With a new tourist in town, Darlene orchestrated a full day of sights. I knew what was coming, so I snuck out early for quiet writing time and my weekly cigarette at Brasserie Carnot. An hour later, I was summoned by walkie-talkie for an outing. Darlene and I showed off our local knowledge by confidently bringing Deb to the bus stop to wait for the 3VB to Mougins. But when the 3VB showed up, we neglected to wave at the driver, so he zoomed by without even slowing down. This provided time for brunch. We eventually picked up the blue Honda in Mougins and drove 20 minutes east of Cannes to Cagne-sur-Mer, winding our way up to the chateau at the top of the old city. Now a museum, the chateau contains a room devoted to the 1930s singer Suzy Solidor, whose beauty and charm inspired 224 portraits of her done by painters of her time, 44 of which Suzy donated to the museum. Her gift makes for a unique experience, of seeing a single woman through the eyes of so many different artists.

On a hill across from the old city, Auguste Renoir in 1907 built a large stone home named “Les Colletes” where he lived the rest of his life. The museum contains just a few of his paintings and seems a bit rundown. But in his workshop we faced an arresting sight: the painter’s three-wheeled wicker wheelchair rolled in front of an easel, where he worked in spite of rheumatoid arthritis until the day he died, December 3, 1919. He was 78.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

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