French Riviera in the Roaring Twenties: A Paradise for the Modern Artist with John Baxter and Samuél Lopez-Barrantes

French Riviera in the Roaring Twenties: A Paradise for the Modern Artist with John Baxter and Samuél Lopez-Barrantes


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Visitors of today’s French Riviera would not have recognized it before World War I. With only a single railway line connecting France’s southern coast to the northern cities, the Cote d’Azur was accessible only to yachts, in particular those belonging to Russian aristocrats who had the means to flee the Soviet winters. However, nobody stayed in the south past May; shunning the sun, they left the coast to the locals and a few invalids who hoped the arid climate would improve their health.

The Roaring Twenties and the legendary Train Bleu transformed the French Riviera into Europe’s most fashionable resort and artists’ retreat. “When I realized that each morning I would see this light again,” wrote Henri Matisse on his first glimpse of the sunshine, “I could not believe my luck.” While he and Auguste Renoir painted in the hills, the beachfront hotels attracted a new kind of artist. From La Californie (Pablo Picasso’s summer refuge), to Saint Raphaël (the village where F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby), to Villa America (where Hemingway betrayed his first wife and courted his second), to James Baldwin’s home in Saint-Paul de Vence, the history of the French Riviera is also the history of modern genius.

During this exclusive, interactive conversation from his home in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, John Baxter, prize-winning author of The French Riviera and its Artists: Art, Literature, Love, and Life on the Côte d'Azur, will discuss the French Riviera’s rich history and numerous delights with Samuél Lopez-Barrantes, author and literature professor at the Sorbonne. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of just why the French Riviera has attracted so many artists throughout the last century.

Samuél is a novelist and musician who has lived in Paris since 2010. He holds an M.A. in European Society from University College London and an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Samuél teaches literature and creative writing at Paris’ Sorbonne. He is also in an American folk-rock trio, Slim & The Beast, whose self-titled EP has already caught the attention of Rolling Stone France.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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