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A Day Spent Wandering: My Trip to Vence, France

One of the benefits of living in Antibes is that the local train can take you to a bunch of small towns.  If you're under 25, you can buy a Carte Zhou for just 15 €, and then you'll get 50% off all tickets you buy for the local train. It's perfect for taking day trips, because the trains run frequently and are very reliable. Most recently I used my Carte Zhou to purchase a ticket to Cagnes-sur-Mer (round trip was only 2,70 €), and from there I took a bus to Vence (1,50 € one way).

Vence was originally built in medieval times, in the 12th century. I spent most of my time wandering around the old town. And when I say wandering, I really mean wandering. I'm so used to the grid system back home that the windy, crisscrossing streets here never fail to confuse me. So the majority of my time in Vence I just walked aimlessly, often passing along the same street. I visited the Cathédral Notre Dame de la Nativité, which houses a mosaic of Moses by Chagall.

 Moise sauvé des eaux by Chagall

Next I visited the Château de Villeneuve, where the Villeneuve family once lived. The Villeneuves were counts of Provence. I recognized their name because I've seen it during my previous travels on the French Riviera (Villeneuve-Loubet-Plage is the name of one stop on the local train, for example).  Today, the Château serves as modern art museum. During my visit, they had a Matisse exhibition, which was perfect because I was going to visit a chapel designed by Matisse after this museum.
 A page from Matisse's Jazz series at the Château

The Matisse Chapel, or Chapelle du Rosaire, is stunning. The walls and floor are completely white.  Matisse painted the stations of the cross and an image of Jesus and the Virgin Mary in black, just outlining the forms of the figures. The simplicity felt very appropriate for a chapel, as a place that is meant to help us remember that material things are not important, that we should live simply and peacefully.  The blue and yellow of the stain glass windows was reflected on the floor as the sun shone on the chapel, giving the chapel beautiful glow rather than a stark, bare feeling that often accompanies all white rooms. I'm hoping to go back there for a mass one Sunday!
 La Chapelle du Rosaire

Lucy Havens is the Spring 2014 CEA MOJO for the French Riviera. She is currently a junior at Carnegie Mellon University.

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