Vallauris – October 1971

This trip began like most of our road trips: we’d leave Paris and drive South, making a brief stop at Vary to pick up some equipment, then press on through the night taking turns sleeping and driving, often with Annie by our side. Weighted down with all the gear we needed for the wire, our van couldn’t go very fast, so we almost always took small side roads. When the moon was full, it cast a beautiful pale light on the countryside and we’d drive with the headlights off in order to admire the ethereal scenery. I liked to be behind the wheel in the early morning to see the sun pierce through the mist at the bend of a road. This time, like the others, our journey rewarded us with those unforgettable instants.

Arriving in Vallauris around lunchtime, we discover that the village is celebrating Picasso’s 90th birthday and Philippe is invited to perform. As always, the rigging is fastidious and finished well after sundown.

1:30AM. Philippe tests his wire in the dark tranquillity of night. After the frenetic job of rigging, I savour this calm moment with deep serenity. Up on the cable, it seems as though he’s floating above the houses sprinkling magic into sleeping children’s dreams from the tip of his balancing pole. The Sandman has arrived.

The Sand Man of Vallauris