A weekend in France, November 2016
Paris, Aix en Provence, France
The days have just sped by since we arrived in Paris last Friday, where we breakfasted in luxury in Le Train Bleu at Gare de Lyon after our overnight flight. A quick 3 hours on the TGV (fast train) and we were back home in Aix en Provence, and before we knew it, the Saturday market was calling, in full bloom. Due to major urban renewal work going on in the biggest market square, as well as Cours Mirabeau now filled with….well, you’ll hear about that later…the vendors have been moved to open areas near the Rotonde, the grand fountain at the end of Cours Mirabeau. Not this pretty fountain below – but since the market’s now there, it’s getting a little more attention than it used to!The stalls are as busy as ever – the move doesn’t seem to have hurt sales! And the abundance of fall produce graces every smiling vendor’s table.As we walk through the Place des Precheurs, the former market square, looking into the excavations preparing for pedestrianizing the spacious area, we notice a flyer about an afternoon modern dance in the excavations so after lunch we return to watch. Mysterious sounds from the bass initiate the performance, Souffle de Pierres – Breath of Rocks – then the elegantly supple dancer begins drawing our attention to the stones below. An associate reads passages from several authors about the meaning of archeological finds, and the former lives and history beneath our feet. Lying down on the stones, the dancer seems to fall asleep, then rises, hair unbound, portraying the energy simmering beneath. As she dances to the surface, then bows, we applaud…yet another unique taste of life in Aix.
There was music throughout the markets this morning, and as I walk through the streets later I see a trio spiffed up in suits, ready to play – and as they sway melodically along the lane I wonder if I’ve stepped into New Orleans!
After dinner we’re out again, taking in the lights on Cours Mirabeau, lined for the season with Christmas chalets selling seasonal crafts and goodies,on our way to a string quartet with piano (yes, a quintet) concert at the Conservatory. The Vin Chaud (hot wine) booth, as always, is the busiest! And the concert was fabulous (and free!) – one of our favorite quintets, by Schumann, performed to a packed house with warmth, excellence and verve by conservatory professors.
The Rotonde shimmers as we walk by on our way home – so fun to be here at this time of year!
We know the rain’s coming, so we enjoy as much outdoor time as possible on Sunday, strolling through the Mazarin Quarter after church – a poor dolphin on one of Aix’s most famous fountains is strapped to his post, loosened by rebels illegally climbing up the historic monument, and JUST after it was completely restored! We arrive at St. Jean de Malte just as their mass ends, and as people stream through the doors a postlude from the magnificent organ bursts out into the street.
One more concert completes the weekend – the Breakdown Quartet, with music of Gershwin, Piazzola and more – at an intimate salon not far from our home.
Aaah Aix – every time we come we love you more!