I think this is the most colorful post I have created so far and for sure I will not do another one like it soon :). Looking at how the autumn is painting everything with its natural colors, I thought it was time to brush the dust off the interviews I’ve gathered and introduce you to the artist, the traveler, and one of the most positive people I know – Lyuba. As I have promised, I will present you only people that will make you smile and believe that the beautiful things that surround us are created by such people and through contact between us we can make a better world.
I have known Lyuba since my student years at the Sofia University when we tried to create amazing memories while studying from the big historical books. When I offered her to take a part in this blog rubric, she immediately agreed. Today we will go on a virtual tour on the streets of the French Riviera and we will visit Nice. Lyuba has prepared interesting places for us to visit, as well as some useful tips and impressive details about the region. We have not been to Nice yet, but that will change soon after WizzAir has surprised us with the launch of a direct flight from Sofia, which will start in March 2018.
Let’s dive into the artistic world of Lyuba in the following lines and enjoy her story. Enjoy reading!
How does an “om trip” look like?
A journey that you take to run away from your every day and working responsibilities, from all sorts of problems and annoyances. A journey that you take with positive and adventurous spirit. A journey where you do not hurry for anywhere, where every moment is impressive, where everything becomes unforgettable and every single person looks interesting. A journey from which you come back loaded, enriched, conceived and no doubt tired.
Can we have an “om trip” to Nice?
Definitely! Nice is a very beautiful and charming city, calm and dynamic at the same time in its own way. It’s often called a “city for retirement”, and you can feel that when you live here. For a traveler, though, Nice has everything for every and each taste, even for the most fastidious one.
I cannot write about Nice not thinking about the region in its whole. The real traveler doesn’t come here just to visit only Nice. Only one step away from here are Monaco, Antibes, Cannes, is capital of the fragrances – Grasse, and other lovely towns with plenty of ateliers and galleries. Close to Nice is also the Provence, famous for its style and spices. Here is the Alpes-Maritimes, with their splendid scenarios, which are great for practicing extreme sports. Here is Côte d’Azur: tremendously picturesque, with natural landmarks and various terrain. Even the light here is incredible causing the colors of buildings and nature to change and vary their nuances.
Three things which we absolutely have to take with us to Nice in our luggage?
Sunglasses, swimsuits and beach shoes. Although the weather is becoming more and more unpredictable, most of the time it is warm and very sunny in Nice. People gather tan on the beach all year round. If you decide to get into the water, my advice is to get beach shoes: a kind of soft boots or sandals. The beach in Nice is covered with small rounded stones that may hurt you a lot when you lie down, sit or walk. These pebbles are a trademark of Nice. There are even candies in this shape and coloring.
How to look like locals?
I have not noticed a specific local fashion. You will meet at the same time very elegant and fashionable people, as well as teenagers dressed in sportswear with white sports socks. Hipsters are also very popular in Nice. Perhaps the only common local feature is having a suntan.
What should we absolutely try when we’re in Nice?
Nice boasts several local specialties, strongly influenced by the Provencal, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. The locals here jealously follow the tradition of the “apéro“: a light drink and a snack in the late afternoon or early evening. Then you may taste the most famous local specialties of Socca (chickpea flatbread), Pissaladière (caramelized onion, anchovy, and olives tart), Pan Bagnat (French Tuna Salad Sandwich), and various types of tapenades. With these appetizers, you can have a glass of Pastis (an anise-flavored spirit and apéritif from France) which resembles the Bulgarian “mastika”. This drink originates from Marseille but is also traditional for the entire southern coast. For dessert, you can try the typical “Tarte de blettes”: a kind of pie with Mangold or Chard (spinach beet), raisins and other ingredients.
Where would you take us to have a cup of coffee?
I’ll take you to Castle Hill even though there isn’t a sign of a castle there. This hill is located between the old town and the port of Nice. Nowadays it is turned into a large and quiet park. There is a great view of the city and the sea. And it would be best to have a picnic on the Boron Hill. The fortress there is intact, and the view is uniquely beautiful! From there you can see the entire city of Nice, as well as the bay Villefranche-sur-Mer and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
The place you’d like to share with us?
There is a place here that proved very special to me over the years. It was here that I made my first exhibition and shot my first show, and presently I am managing it. I would say that this is an “alternative place of culture”. It is called “La Zonmé”, which in Verlan (a French argot) means “House”. It is a cultural association with an exhibition space. In the daytime, it houses various workshops (Naturopathy, Art-Therapia, several types of Dances, Yoga, conferences etc.), and in the evenings’ concerts, exhibitions, screenings, festivals and other cultural events are organized there. It is cozy and artistic. You have the feeling that you are at home or in a friend’s living room. And you are surrounded by friends because almost everyone who passes by the association “stays” and becomes a friend and a part of the team.
We can’t do without stopping by some galleries and museums. Show us some of your favorites?
Without hesitation, I’ll take you to the “Le Pigeonnier“: Art Squat in the heart of Nice’s old town. At first glance, it looks like an abandoned apartment building. If you cross the threshold, however, you find yourself in Wonderland. Each room is painted and converted into an art studio, and each one of them has its own style. For 15 years dozens of artists have been there, whose traces we still find on the walls, the stairs, the ceilings, the closets and the furthest corners of this building. At present 10 artists share the space. Exhibitions of “external” artists are also organized once a month.
Which book should we take with us for our trip to Nice?
I already mentioned the Provence and Grasse. You may take with you the “Perfume” by Patrick Süskind as the events described in the book take place exactly here. Or maybe “The Man in the Iron Mask” because he was exiled to the island of Saint Marguerite near to Cannes.
There are lots of clichés about Nice which ones proved to be false?
Everything I had heard of Nice proved to be true.
Please share your experience from your first days in Nice?
My first days here were thrilling but also confusing and annoying because of the inevitable administrative procedures to be arranged. I was lucky not to be alone. I arrived together with a big group of students with whom I have studied in Sofia and Frankfurt (Oder). Together we discovered the life in Nice.
Where should we head to after Nice?
Go to the Nice port and take the first ferry to Corsica. It will take you five hours to reach there. You will arrive at Calvi. From there no matter where you decide to go, you will like Corsica a lot. It is not a coincidence that the island is called “The ‘Isle of Beauty”.
Who is Lyuba Sofronieva?
I was born in Sofia, I grew up in Varna, and graduated from the Sofia University. I arrived in Nice almost seven years ago, with the idea of completing the last semester of my Master’s degree in “Media, Communication, and Culture” and then leaving for some other unknown place. I liked the city: not very large, not very small, neat and calm. Nature in the region is wonderful and varied – beach, mountain, rivers, and lakes. You always have the feeling that you are on vacation.
Soon afterward I started an internship at the regional music magazine “Nouvelle Vague”, for which I write to this day. I was originally a music reporter and editor and then appointed a marketing and communications manager. My daily life began to follow the rhythm of local press conferences, festivals, and concerts. So I gradually discovered, became acquainted and became a part of the local cultural and artistic landscape. And I stayed in Nice.
One day in a casual conversation with a friend who is also an artist I decided to show him some of my old drawings as well as two or three newer ones. A few months later we did a collective exhibition in Nice. My first one! I continued to paint in my spare time. When I am drawing I feel so relaxed and liberated. I have a rich and strange fantasy. I’m an adventurous soul, curious, observant, and communicative. I lead an intensive and rich cultural life. All these impressions and emotions are urging to be expressed and shared. And my favorite way to do that is painting. The reaction of the people who saw my drawings encouraged me to continue. Thanks to the support and the organizational spirit of my excited friends I have over 20 exhibitions, mainly in France, but also in Zurich, Beirut, Sofia, and Varna.
The drawings take too much time and because of that two years ago I decided to take a creative break. Soon after I began my volunteer work at the La Zonmé Cultural Association and soon I was appointed a manager there. And again I was left with little time to create my art. On the other hand, I’ve had my own atelier-exhibition hall in “Le Pigeonnier“: Art Squat for a year and a half.