FireworksThe traditional Christmas and New Year festivities take on an added thrill as the Capital of Culture year also draws to its close.

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This is your last chance to catch Le Corbusier in Marseille, German refugee artists in Les Milles, the current Quarries of Lights spectacle and more.

Extra events will be announced in the course of the autumn, so keep a close eye on this space for new additions. And click here to read our November diary for Marseille-Provence 2013 European Capital of Culture.

For the full programme (many, though by no means all, pages are now finally translated into English), see the website for Marseille-Provence 2013: European Capital of Culture.

Le Routard guide to MP2013Visitors to Marseille should also head for the new temporary Pavillon M on the place Villeneuve-Bargemon just off the Old Port, which is a primary source of information (the main Tourist Office at 11 la Canebière will be open as usual too).

If you read French, you might be interested in Le Routard Marseille, Provence 2013, capitale européenne de la culture, a very comprehensive book-length guide to what's going on

6 December-6 January 2013 Seven local artists look back on the region's Capital of Culture programme. At the Musée Regards de Provence, Marseille.

14-20 December On display at the Pavillon M in Marseille: 29 traditional provençal folk costumes from the 18th and 19th centuries represent regions from Nice to Montpellier. A week celebrating Provence's folk traditions will also feature music, dancing and lectures.

21-24 December Arles loves to celebrate Christmas in unconventional style with Drôles de Noëls (Funny Christmases), a free open-air street art extravaganza with magicians, circuses, puppets, storytelling and, of course, a Christmas market.

Droles de Noels in Arles31 December Based near Arles, Groupe F produces works combining street art, pyrotechnics, son et lumière and open-air theatre. Over the course of 2013, they have staged a multi-episode saga of light and fire called Revelations at locations throughout Provence.

Tonight the show in Istres, on the Blue Coast north-west of Marseille, lasts around half an hour. A wave of fire will wash over the Etang de l'Olivier (the large Olivier Lake), starting at the Town Hall. 6pm, entrance free.

It will be followed by a spectacle on Marseille's Old Port, also by Groupe F, with giant water sculptures - up to 70 metres / 230 feet high - by Crystal Group, to mark the end of Marseille-Provence European Capital of Culture. 7pm, entrance free.

The best vantage points to view the show in Marseille are on the Old Port itself, in front of the Church of Saint Laurent on the north side of the port and in front of Saint Victor Abbey and in the Pharo gardens on the south side. Note that the Old Port will be closed to traffic from 6-8.30pm while all this is going on.

Ongoing Events

Until 7 December At the Chapelle des Pénitents Bleus in La Ciotat, Claude Gazier's moody paintings artfully evoke the atmosphere of vintage film stills in an exhibition named Champ - Contrechamp (Angle - Reverse Angle).

Claude Gazier Champ Contre ChampUntil 8 December The traditional Fête des Bergers (Shepherds' Festival) in Istres is now in its 28th year. As usual, there's a large craft fair, sheepdog trials, a banquet and a procession of sheep celebrating the transhumance, the passage of animals between their summer and winter pastures.

The 2013 programme also highlights the 150th anniversary of Charles Gounod's opera, Mireille, based on Mireio, Frédéric Mistral's poem in the provençal language (the opera itself is in French).

Until 15 December Créer pour résister (Create in Order to Resist) Between 1939 and 1942, the Camp des Milles, just outside Aix en Provence, was an internment camp for political dissidents, artists and intellectuals and, finally, Jews about to be deported to Auschwitz. Some of the amazing murals created by artist-prisoners can still be seen on its walls.

This temporary exhibition celebrates the creativity under extreme duress of four painters interned at Les Milles: Hans Bellmer, Max Ernst, Ferdinand Springer and Wols.

It consists of around 50 of their works, as well as previously unpublished documents and archive footage.

 

 

Until 22 December Closed throughout the summer, the J1 Hangar in Marseille - a former ferry terminal temporarily converted into an arts space for the Capital of Culture year - reopens with the major show of the autumn in Provence, Le Corbusier et la question du brutalisme (Le Corbusier and the Question of Brutalism).

Le Corbusier ceramicAlso entitled, more succinctly, LC at the J1, this really is a must-see, a revelation that Le Corbu was much more than an architect or interior designer.

On display at the J1: his ceramics (one of those on display is pictured), tapestries, enamels, wooden sculptures, cubist paintings, even erotic sketches... the range of his artistic interests is amazing.

The exhibition focuses on the later part of Le Corbusier's career and shows how, in this mature period, he developed a new aesthetic which critics - positive as well as negative - dubbed "brutalism": an approach to architecture born of a synthesis of all the arts.

Which is not to say that his architectural work is neglected. Maquettes, cross-sections, plans and sketches, photographs and films all trace the key building achievements of this period.Le Corbusier at the J1 Terminal Marseille

Le Corbusier has a close connection with Marseille. He regularly sailed from the port (just a few metres from the J1 Hangar) for Algeria, where he was working on architectural projects, or for Athens, where he participated in the 1933 Congress of Architects, an event which had a major impact in shaping his ideas.

And, constructed in 1947-1952, the architect's Radiant City experimental housing, pictured, made his name internationally. Enormously influential, it is still one of the most desirable addresses in town for people to live at today.

The Radiant City MarseilleCurated by the Marseille architect and Le Corbu expert Jacques Sbriglio, the exhibition at the J1 is superbly presented, with clean uncluttered lines, well-chosen, clear bright colours and an impressive attention to detail: for example, light projections on the floor in each room evoke Le Corbusier's espousal of the Golden Ratio theory which influenced his designed for the apartments in the Radiant City.

The informative signage in each room is in French and (for a change, well-translated) English.

Whereas the previous show at this venue blacked out the windows, LC at the J1 is surrounded by luminous open views to the port and the sea that inspired the architect's vision. It's the last important event in this unusual and evocative space, which looks likely to be reclaimed for commercial port activities after the end of the year. Unmissable!

 

 

Until 5 January 2014 A new version of the hugely popular son et lumière show at the Quarries of Lights (formerly known as the Cathedral of Images) links into the overall Mediterranean theme of Marseille-Provence 2013 European Capital of Culture.

Called Monet, Renoir... Chagall. Voyages en Méditerranée (Voyages to the Mediterranean), it explores how the luminous colours of the Mediterranean, from the Spanish border to the Italian Riviera, have attracted painters throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Extended until 11 January 2014 The Cité du Livre in Aix en Provence is offering a major exhibition, Albert Camus, Citoyen du Monde (Albert Camus, Citizen of the World) to celebrate the centenary of the writer's birth. It includes hand-written manuscripts, author's proofs, first editions and photographs, along with multi-media elements. Admission free with free guided tours daily at 5.30pm.

Until 11 January 2014 At the Alcazar in Marseille, as well as in Vitrolles and Miramas, Les Expéditions Imaginaires (Imaginary Expeditions) bring to life some incredible landscapes out of classic children's books such as Alice in Wonderland, Robinson Crusoe and Harry Potter. Read more about the Imaginary Expeditions programme.

Until January 2014 The MuCEM (Musée des civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée, or the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations), Marseille's showpiece new museum, is now open with a permanent exhibition of artefacts from around the Mediterranean.

The MuCEM Marseille by nightThere are temporary shows too. The first two of these are Le Noir et le Bleu, un Rêve Méditérranean (The Black and the Blue, a Mediterranean Dream), which looks at artists' visions of the future across countries and centuries and the curiously named Le Bazar du Genre (The Gender Bazaar), which investigates traditional concepts of gender and sexuality in different Mediterranean cultures.

Pictured, the sensational building itself, designed by Rudy Ricciotti, is well worth a visit, as are the landscaped gardens in the adjacent Fort Saint Jean.

Until 23 February 2014 La Provence, ses peintres et ses poètes (Provence, its Painters and Poets) is a show at the Musée Regards de Provence in Marseille that celebrates artists and writers who were inspired by Provence at a certain point in their personal development, including Apollinaire. Braque, Camus, Cartier-Bresson, César, Cocteau and Joyce.

Le Pouce by Cesar in MarseilleUntil 16 March 2014 A retrospective is dedicated to the sculptor César at the Musée Cantini in Marseille. César Baldaccini - to give him his full name - was born in Marseille on 1 January 1921 and grew up in the factories and warehouses of the Belle de Mai neighbourhood in the north of the city, where his father ran a bar. He died in Paris on 6 December 1998.

Part of the Nouveau Réalisme (New Realism) movement, along with Arman, Yves Klein and others, César is celebrated for his sculptures made of scrap metal, in particular compressed cars.

He also created the trophy for the César Awards (France's equivalent of the Oscars) which are, in fact, named after him. His giant thumb (Le Pouce), pictured, sits on the roundabout on the avenue de Hambourg near the Musée d'Art Contemporain [mac] in the south of Marseille (another of his thumbs can be seen at La Défense in Paris).

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