Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Art and about in Montpellier


You might have seen a post I did last year, after going to visit some friends, Jake and Mandy, who recently moved to Montpellier, in the south of France – a ridiculously gorgeous city, just big enough to keep you occupied, but small enough to wander around through its Mediterranean cobbled streets. 

The ceramics at 500degres (see below for details)
Mandy and I left the kids with Jake and she showed me around some of her city's gorgeous interiors and design shops. But, since then, she's discovered even more art and design to explore (they'd only just moved from the UK when I visited). If you're thinking of a European holiday somewhere hot and full of interesting art – as well as beautiful rivers to swim in and bistros to sit outside while drinking wine from Duralex tumblers – I'd recommend Montpellier. But enough from me. For artist ateliers and miniature pop-up galleries I'll hand you over to the local...

Amanda Pollard
"Always happy to have my cake and eat it, I had a nice surprise on a recent visit to the Montpellier tourist office. As well as the usual information on local monuments, churches and museums they offer a walking tour of some of the town’s best design workshops

An attractive leaflet, complete with map, guides you on a ‘retail stroll’ around one of the most beautiful areas of the old town. Perfect sightseeing in my book, you can take in the beauty and history of the city while shopping for gorgeous things.




Even better, one of the boutiques, Cubik, offers you 48 shops in one. Each designer rents a cube for three months to display and sell their work. 

This cube of mischievous etchings by Japanese artist Atsuko Ishii particularly caught my eye. 

And these sandstone figures by Caroline Paul are sweet too. Apparently they have holes at the tops of their heads to show they’re open minded!





And how’s this for a great bespoke light. You can buy the ‘mooon’ frame (inset*) and insert your own bottles. Et voilà. 

The current exhibition is running from March till June, but if you can’t make it to Montpellier you can visit Cubik’s online shop.


I love the unusual ceramics in 500degres. Laurent Bourgoin and apprentice Ophélie create delicate porcelain kitchenware, each piece adorned with a unique bold design. 

500degres’ work is not currently available online but they are considering bringing it over to UK craft fairs at some point. In the meantime, I can’t think of a better excuse to visit Montpellier.

Laurent and his wife Alison helped found the walking tour. Alison says it’s a great way for visitors to find their way around Montpellier’s creative workshops, particularly as some are tucked away inside streets. She’s right, if it wasn’t for the map you might never find this beautiful shop.

Clothes and accessories shop, Mir.A, run by the innovative and talented Mireille Alberto, also showcases some interior goodies by artist Isabelle Marsala. These striking cushions, below, are around 45 euros each. You can also buy original artwork and a book by Isabelle, also pictured below.

And if you are thinking of a south of France city break and want to time your visit to perfection, on the first Thursday of each month the ateliers take turns to host a soirée. The next one on 7 April will take the form of a street party outside 500degres, just in time for Easter."

* I have hunted hard for this device, I'll track it down and share it when I finally find where you can buy them

If you speak French, you can find out more about Ateliers Saint Roch in this YouTube clip, too.

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