Ils sont artiste, cheffe étoilée, designer ou apiculteur, pilote automobile ou créatrice de mode. Leur point commun ? Ces personnalités glamour ou au cœur de la vie culturelle, économique et sociale régionale sont les moteurs de l’actualité azuréenne. Découvrez sans filtre le témoignage de leur parcours, leurs rêves, leurs ambitions et leurs projets à venir.

March 2024

Florence Denis

Art with a sea view

“My ‘escape’ is a walk along the wild beaches and rocky inlets of Hyères.”

Avec la complicité de Caroline Guiol
© Françoise Oppermann

It’s 30 years since I left Paris. My career since then—communications, co-director of the cultural association L’Art prend l’Air and teaching literature—confirmed my aspirations: a fascination for the skies and the Mediterranean and a wish to fill my soul with air, art and joy. And now here I am in charge of a unique place that faces the sea. I’m an incomer and it’s my love for the region that drew me to Provence. My three children have been brought up in Bandol and so I, myself, who had lived between Paris and Finistère, have formed a strong bond with the south of France; I feel like I belong here, thanks to my two “guiding lights”, Françoise Siffrein-Blanc and Françoise Oppermann. I can still remember the day I visited the Marseille studio of Judith Bartolani and then Gérard Traquandi’s in Aix. What a revelation! I was desperate to tell everyone and anyone who didn’t know the area about its incomparable beauty, contrasts and quirkiness. And it was another encounter that introduced me to Hyères. The more I discover the Var region, the more I appreciate how many vibrant cultural events and venues there are here, operating hand in hand with the Plein Sud arts network and the Port-Cros National Park. In 2020, Jean-Noël Drouin and Carole Waterkeyn told me about their mad idea to open a waterside museum on the Giens peninsula to showcase their collection. Overlooking Niel harbour, this restored 1960s building was the perfect location for exhibitions of non-figurative painting. It sits opposite the island of Porquerolles, so people tend to just pop in. The magical connection between the art, the natural environment and the pleasure of art lovers and collectors is immediately palpable. My paternal grandfather, who came from the north of France, would often escape to the south, driving leisurely along its roads and stopping off to sketch an architectural feature, a sculpture, fountain, costume or passer-by… I treasure the sketch pad he used during his jaunts. Did he too dream of a new life in Provence?


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