Francophiles’ Guide to Quarantine, v. VIII

Gardens Galore and Outlets for Artists

May 6, 2020By Heidi EllisonWhat's New Art & Culture
"Paris Arc de Triomphe – Faim du Monde Faim d’Émois" (2019). © Chris Morin-Eitner.. Courtesy Galerie W
“Paris Arc de Triomphe – Faim du Monde Faim d’Émois” (2019). © Chris Morin-Eitner.. Courtesy Galerie W

If you feel like you’re missing out on the joys of springtime this year, you can pay a virtual visit to some of the most beautiful gardens in France. Here’s a walk through the garden of the Château de Chaumont, famous for its annual garden festival, in gorgeous full flower. 

Antoine Jacobsohn, deputy director of the Potager du Roi (King’s Kitchen Garden) at another château you may have heard of, Versailles, has a lovely slide show of the garden on his blog. Click here for a virtual tour in English of Versailles’ rather less humble formal gardens.

Sheep running free in William Christie’s Thiré Gardens in France’s Vendée department.
Sheep running free in William Christie’s Thiré Gardens in France’s Vendée department.

And here’s a garden you may not know about (I didn’t until recently): British conductor William Christie’s Thiré Gardens in the Vendée department of France, where he holds a music festival in the spring (canceled this year) and in August. Click here for a virtual tour of the gardens in videos and photos. 

"No. 153" - 5th April 2020." iPad drawing. © David Hockney
“No. 153″ – 5th April 2020.” iPad drawing. © David Hockney

The artists among you might want to participate in a contest called “L’Espoir au Printemps: Dessine comme Hockney” (“Hope in Springtime: Draw like Hockney) inspired by an iPad artwork created by David Hockney to celebrate the new season. Anyone can enter the competition, sponsored by the Théâtre du ChâteletFrance Inter and the Centre Pompidou, by posting their interpretation of Hockney’s tree on social media with the hashtag #HockneyPrintemps and/or sending it to by June 21, the first day of summer. A jury will choose 10 winning works, which will be exhibited, probably in the Théâtre du Châtelet, and shown online.

Both amateur and professional artists can also participate in Agora Off, an ambitious online “cultural center” for the lockdown period. The site has a “Campus” for art students, a virtual gallery with a curated show on the theme of light, a space to help artists with the creation of new works, and a Festival des Arts Confinés. Artists submit their works to the latter, and a selection of new works is put online every day at 7 pm CEST. The photo of the Arc de Triomphe by Chris Morin-Eitner at the top of this page was one of the works chosen.

For those who prefer to look and learn, the Musée Paul Valéry in Sète, France, has been posting a short video every day here and on its website with a cogent analysis of a work from its collection, which, refreshingly, contains many talented artists who are not household names but whose work deserves to be better known, such as Colette Richarme (1904-91) or François Desnoyer (1894-1972).

And now for something completely different: you’ll need a pretty good level of French to understand the hilarious video below, which proposes a method of preventing the spread of Covid-19 by eliminating from the French language consonants like P and B that might produce infectious droplets. Be patient – it’s slow to get started. The author of this linguistic tour de force is as yet unknown, but thanks again to Constance Sherak for sending it in.


Note: Click here if you’d like to know who won Le Fooding’s “La Meilleure Table Confinée de France” (best lockdown meal in France) competition, mentioned in this article.

In case you missed previous weeks’ “Francophiles’ Guide to Quarantine” (French brain teasers, free films, audiobooks, art, music, comedy, SOS Help hotline, and more) read them here, here, here, here, here, here and here.


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