Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Goat Plans This Weekend?

If you're casting about for something to do this weekend, hoof it over to the small village of Fuveau for the launch of Yoga Chèvre in Provence. Bouyed by the success of a session they held near Nice earlier this month, the founders of Yoga Chèvre will host a second class at the same place at 6:30 pm on Friday...and then, on Sunday, a 6:30 pm class at a peaceful toy goat breeding farm about 25 minutes from Aix. I kid you not!

Turns out that Goat Yoga has been a thing in the US for a while now (in January, CBS News called it "the latest craze") but from what I can tell this is the first time it's happening here in the South of France.

Credit for the trend goes to an Oregon woman named Lainey Morse, who realized, while struggling through an illness and a divorce, that she always felt better after hanging out with her goats. She began offering "goat therapy" to others through Goat Happy Hours, welcoming people to come cuddle her pets. It was at a "kids and kids" birthday party that one of the moms, a yoga instructor, convinced Lainey to add yoga to the mix. The concept grew so popular that Morse soon quit her marketing job to run The Original Goat Yoga full time.
A quick Google search turned up goat yoga across the US, in Canada, South Africa, Australia and beyond. Just before the holidays last year, Denver International Airport created a one-day goat-yoga room, “to surprise and delight our passengers, but also show the world that going to the airport can be unexpected, relaxing and fun,” according to the airport’s communications team. 
When a goat gave birth to twins during a goat yoga class in Georgia in May, the story made the New York Times. The Times also reports that goats are wildly popular on Instagram.

And now we all get to try it too. The founder of Yoga Chèvre is a Nice-born yogi now living in Los Angeles; she discovered it there and is extremely excited about bringing the idea back home. "This is a Hatha Yoga class, more focused on relaxation and meditation," she tells me. "So the benefit comes from the yoga but also from the goats, who definitely add joy and happiness. It's been proven, of course, that interaction with animals is very good for humans but especially interaction with goats, who are particularly playful."

"Goats seem to bring out the best in people," said one instructor online. "They make people feel good. They have no boundaries."

"Yoga is about breathing," said another aficionado. "Goat yoga is about laughing."

The classes in Castagniers (20 km from Nice) and Fuveau will both be taught by yoga instructor Melanie Lopez, a partner in the new venture.
In Castagniers (June 29 and July 22), there will be six goats, plus a sheep and a cat that love to join in the fun.
In Fuveau, you'll be joined on Sunday by 25 "very small, very rare and very friendly" toy goats. There's another class there on July 21st and then one every weekend in August and September. Sessions (priced at 30€ each) will continue throughout the year if there's interest. 

For more info and to reserve, see Yoga Chèvre on Facebook and at yogachevre.com.


Photos: (1-3) From the Yoga Chèvre website. (4-5) Goat Yoga is all over Instagram; these two are from @azgoatyoga and @thatssonif.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Guest Post: What's Up This Month in Aix?


Erin Jordan is an American who's been lucky enough to have called southern France home since moving from Seattle with her husband and two daughters in 2010. Along the way, she turned her passion for the region into a successful business by providing personalized guided walking tours in Aix-en-Provence for English speaking visitors. Erin loves to keep up with everything going on in the area, of course, and when I asked her to share with us some of the cool stuff happening around Aix this month she generously sent this round up.  Some of these events are limited to just a weekend while others extend through the summer. "And this is really just a taste," Erin says. "I hope your readers can get out and enjoy some the wonderful opportunities that Aix offers!" To learn more about Erin's tours go to aixploringprovence.com. To reach her directly: aixploringprovence@gmail.com. And here's what she suggests...

One of my absolute favorite annual events is Salon Vivre Coté Sud, a home décor and garden fair celebrating the Mediterranean lifestyle. The exhibition will be held at Parc Jourdan, with lots of fabulous local and regional exhibitors to discover, from June 8 to 11. This year marks the 20th anniversary of this fun and well-organized event.

For outdoor music paired with a chilled glass of rosé, be sure to check out Les Musicales dans les Vignes de Provence. The program is hosted by different wine domains from May 11 through August 19, and includes live performances set in some the most beautiful scenery anywhere in the Provence.

Also not to be missed is Aix en Juin, a prelude to the famous Festival d’Aix in July, with exceptional artists, young talents and renowned world-class musicians. Aix en Juin begins on June 9 and offers everything from concerts and performances to master classes and public rehearsals, so there will be something for everyone to enjoy as a tune up to the main event next month.

The beautifully restored Hôtel de Caumont kicks off its Les soirées Jazz à Caumont concert series on June 16 with live evening performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the summer. The Caumont is a major art museum in Aix and if you haven’t experienced it, you must! The historic architecture of the mansion was meticulously renovated several years ago, while the sculpted gardens and intimate outdoor café provide an in-city oasis unlike any other in Aix. Currently on view is a show dedicated to Franco-Russian painter Nicolas de Staël, known for his colorful and highly abstract landscapes. With 71 paintings and 26 drawings from public and private collections, the exhibit focuses exclusively on the year he spent in Provence (1953/4). It opened in late April and runs until Sept 23, 2018. All the info is here.  

The "Picasso-Picabia" exhibit at the Musée Granet launches June 9, part of the international cultural event "Picasso Méditerranée" with 60+ museums celebrating his Mediterranean work. This particular show is the first to compare the work of Picasso to the French cubist Francis Picabia, who declared in 1922, "Picasso is the only painter I love." Through masterpieces and lesser-known works, it explores "50 years of rich, diverse and uninterrupted artistic production." The show runs until Sept 23. 

The 11th annual Flaneries D'Art Contemporain happens the weekend of June 16 and 17. It's a perfect opportunity to see some beautiful private gardens on the Cours Mirabeau and in the Mazarin neighborhood while taking in art exhibits, listening to lectures by several authors and enjoying opera, jazz and even tap dance performances. Entrance to the public is free.

And finally, the summer solstice festival on June 23, known as Le Feu de la Saint-Jean, culminates with the arrival of a flame that's come all the way from Catalonia. Spectators will be invited to write their “vows,” attach them to wood and place them in a pile near the Fontaine de la Rotonde. Around 9 pm, the flame will ignite the vows and wood into a blazing bonfire to release the magic of Saint John. Music and dancing will follow until 1 am.

Photos: (1-4) These shots from previous years show the range of activities and beautiful displays you'll see at Salon Vivre Côté Sud. Top shot © S. Spiteri.  (5, 6) Two paintings from the Nicolas de Staël in Provence exhibit at the Caumont Art Center in Aix. (7) The beautifully restored Hôtel de Caumont houses the museum. (8) The Caumont kicks off its evening jazz series on June 16 with shows on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the summer. (9, 10) Two from the Picasso-Picabia show at the Musee Granet: Picasso's Femme à la mantille (Fatma), 1917, and Picabia's Andalouse (Espagnole à la mantille), 1923-1926. (11) Pablo and Olga Picasso with Francis Picabia at the Château de Mai in Mougins, 1927. (12)  The Michel Pellegrino Quartet at the Château Thuerry in Flayosc, during the Music in the Vineyards festival. (13) Poster for this year's Feu de la Saint-Jean festival, celebrating the summer solstice.

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