The man behind the mustache is revealed in the summer exhibition at the Musée d’art moderne de Céret. Most people recognize Dali’s iconic surreal images including melting clocks, levitating elephants and lobster telephones, but did you know that behind his gaudy showman’s façade Dali was a serious student of science?

Céret has long been a stronghold for contemporary and modern art. Heralded as a Mecca for cubism, greats such as Picasso and Matisse would come to draw inspiration from the spectacular scenery and tap into the unique, creative energies of the area.

Augustin Hanicotte, a painter from the north of France, came south for reasons of health. During his stay from 1915 to 1945, with the simplest of materials, brown butcher’s paper, coloured pencils, charcoal or pastels, he lovingly portrayed the life of the village.

One of their great writers, Jean de La Fontaine, produced French versions of fables, in verse and with illustrations. There are twelve volumes, with stories such as The Ant and the Grasshopper, told with elegance, wit and verve, in simple French which is usually easy to understand today. Each teaches a lesson about our relationships with society.

May 1968 and Paris is hot with rebellion, passion and hope, as protestors clash with the riot police. Amongst the mayhem, brilliant art student Laure stands boldly on the barricades, heady with her new-found defiance, until she is swept up by the crowd and falls into the arms of Lolo, the fascinating student leader. But youthful rebellion comes at a cost.

C’’est Mardi matin, Prades rassemble bien
Le grand marché hebdomadaire
Sur la grande place, des stands face à face
Exposent leurs meilleures affaires

The association Amis of Patrick O’Brian based in Collioure, O’Brian’s home during the most prolific years of his writing life, has been entrusted with the contents of his writing space. The donation includes O’Brian’s books and papers as well as his writing desk, pens and ink.

The owl appears in some of cuckoo poems because he is seen as judge and jury for the treacherous cuckoo. Incidentally, there are many words for owl in French ; hibou is the general name but here is a list of the various special names for the many types of owl.

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