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The journey back


The camera was somewhere in the jumble of the car boot, so no pics of Honfleur. In season it’s somewhat like Collioure, on the Cote Vermeille, but now the beguiling vista of drunkenly leaning timber framed houses –some painted duck egg blue- was uncluttered by crowds. Smooth fat rocks cobble the streets which are lined with too many kitsch painters’ studios, as in Collioure. Here they imagine they belong to the fraternity of Monet and Boudin, whereas in Collioure their gods are Derain and Matisse. Funny how the great French artists are all history now.

Satie when young, by the (only) love of his life, the painter Suzanne Valadon (mother of Maurice Utrillo and a very interesting painter in her own right).

Listen to Gnossienne no 1:


The older Erik Satie wearing one of his 86 stiff collars.

The museum is one of those tricksy, bitty, interactive spaces where you learn more about Satie’s eccentric collection of velvet suits and umbrellas than his music. One feels boxed in- and boxed out. Born in Honfleur of a Scottish mother, befriended Debussy, Picasso and other luminaries in Paris.  Epitome of the garret artist who survived on the odd crust and many bottles of wine. Died in 1925 of cirrhosis of the liver. Communist, Rosicrucian, Dadaist, Composer; of music and many bon mots such as:

“Before I compose a piece, I walk around it several times, accompanied by myself.”
“When I was young, I was told: ‘You’ll see, when you’re fifty.’ I am fifty and I haven’t seen a thing.”

After two days on the road eating crispbread, I treated myself to a quirky lunch at posh Le Breard- all teasing little amuse bouches of this and that (sushi accompanied by green gazpacho?!) Did a bit of flaneuring past sails, capstans and seagulls and rang the bell at 44 Rue Haute (shades of my very own rue d’en Bas) to get a brochure, with a future stay in mind. One of Sawday’s Normandy rhapsodies, and steep at 135 euros. Then got into car full of crispbread crumbs and chocolate wrappers to drive over the spectacular Pont de Normandie onto the ferry and home. Honfleur is a good weekend break if you can take the 5 and a half hour crossing – and it’s so typically and stereotypically French.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Richard February 1, 2012, 12:42 pm

    Hey, Prades is alright Nanu! 😉

    • pratima February 1, 2012, 6:02 pm

      That last sentence was specially for you Richard. I know how strongly you feel about it!

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