Simplicity is beautiful

windows from Matisse Chapel in Vance, France. Photo Credit: Alistair Duncan (

windows from Matisse Chapel in Vance, France. Photo Credit: Alistair Duncan (

Simplicity is beautiful and often it is holy. I think that from the first hour we came to our little haven on the top of the world, we have been forced to be simple- from the food we eat (gnocchi, sauce, and rosemary from the madame’s heaping plant) to the time we wake up, to the (no) alarms we set to how we conduct our day. We have been simple.

As we drive through the impossibly narrow streets of St. Jeanette, the townspeople carry on their conversations, not seeming to notice us making our way up the road in our (very small) car. Mind you, we barely drive through the streets without scratching the paint off our doors. Our neighbors actually take time to converse and spend time with one another, enjoying their place and getting to know the people who live with them. The town we live in is small but it hold so much character. It is a place of medieval architecture and hidden wonders which, of course, I’m all about.  We plan to explore tomorrow.

Today we zoomed our little car around the twisting roads up in the hills- roads that connect all these hill towns by twisting and turning ridges. We arrived in Vence, a village much larger than St. Jeanette but only one town over and still not a city. It was bustling- with tourists and locals alike- visitng the magasins or dining under umbrellas and twinkling lights. We wandered into old town Vence, observing the crumbling architecture. There were charming painted shutters, lush colorful window boxes, narrow side streets with small portions of light visible like light at the end of a tunnel. We ate lunch in a small outdoor café that Rick Steves suggested. Thanks Rick! Vence enchanted me- from its quaint buildings to its old-world feel caught in time to les chats wandering its narrow paths.

We also visited the most beautiful and peaceful space that I have ever set my soul. The Chapelle du Rosarie, a Dominican chapel, was commisioned by Henri Matisse. The space was so simple- and so holy. It embodied the essence of what religious spaces should be- simple, appealing to any audience. There were three floor to ceiling paintings on tile and two floor to ceiling walls of stained glass. The painted tile of St. Dominic, the Mother and Child, and the Stations of the Cross, the magnitude and the simplicity took my breath away, soothing and satiating my inner being- and I began to really absorb the obvious meaning.

la chapelle

“Simple colors can act on the inner feelings all the more powerfully as they are simple. What I have done in the chapel is to create a religous space…To take an enclosed space of very reduced proportions and give it,  solely by the play of colours and lines, the dimensions of infinity.”

-Henri Matisse-


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