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Upstairs and Down in Aix

Upstairs and Down in Aix

Week of  January 16-22, 2017, continued
Aix en Provence, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to Spring – Aix en Provence for the Easter Festival.

One of Kirk’s favorite things to do in Aix is visit the vintage and consignment stores – he loves the hunt! Some decades-old wines and yet one more Cezanne book are his finds this time….early Valentine’s Day gifts!
Last night it was Lola, the adorable French bulldog belonging to our neighbors across the street, who came up the stairs for a visit. Today it’s Noelle, who came for coffee with Barbara, whom we “met” online through Kristin. After Kristin posted a photo of us when she and JM were over for lunch a couple of days ago, Barbara, her long-time friend, wanted to know where in Aix we were – so we invited her for coffee! Great ideas and hints flowed back and forth…we’ve now signed up for Scott’s Cheap Flights, and after hearing about the deals Kirk found at Oca Deco (that wine and book!) Barbara wanted to know where it was – “let’s go!” we said! And they both bought a few bottles more.
On the way back home – “Want to join us for our “clean out the frig” lunch?” was our next question – so the fun continued as we put together a yummy meal from all we couldn’t take with us on the train to Paris tomorrow! Kirk had some things to place down in the “cave” – our ancient storage place under the building, so downstairs the three of them went. That rosé from Jean-Marc will stay nice and cool til we’re ready to drink it next summer! Afternoon errands are a foodie’s delight….first find the best dessert to take to Xavier’s for dinner tonight, then select some Provençal cheeses to take to Paris for dinner tomorrow (well-shrink-wrapped so that we don’t scent the entire train!). Up the 90-plus stairs to Xavier’s rooftop apartment, and we’re well-rewarded with a feast of truffled eggs – Brouillade. Xavier made this for us a couple of years ago – I think it may have been the first thing made in our newly-renovated kitchen! “Don’t let a morsel go to waste!” we all urge – and Xavier happily complies. We take the long way home, savoring every last minute in Aix…

Creating Homes & Vineyards in the South of France

Creating Homes & Vineyards in the South of France

Monday – Tuesday, Feb. 1-2, 2016
Aix en Provence, St. Cyr sur Mer, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to Spring – Prague and Budapest, or Venice and the Veneto – join us!

On an afternoon walk around Aix, we’re drawn into a courtyard, 02011601 aix intriguing cour - Copylights shining in a workshop across the cobbled space. If a door or gate is open, we consider it an invitation to step in and look around, whether it’s a garden or a courtyard…and inside we find a sweet little well in the corner, 02011601 well water for residents of Hotel Carces built in 1500s for treasurer of Provencewhich would have provided water for residents of the Hôtel Carces, built in the 1500s for the treasurer of Provence, in centuries past
Following the sound of a craftsman at work, we walk up to the atelier,02011601 drawn in and find that it is a new apartment in progress! The owner, who lives upstairs, is doing all of the work, 02011602 renovator doing all work keeping many old arch featuresand gives us a complete tour of what will be a gorgeous space – the ancient stables destined to be a luxury bathroom, the kitchen looking out onto the courtyard, and the salon out to the garden in the back. We promise to come by next time we’re in town to see what progress has been made.
We’ve rented a car for the next three days, and Tuesday being a major market day, we just HAVE to walk through and take in the vibrant winter colors on our way to pick it up.020111601 am marketThen we’re on our way east to Bandol wine country, passing blooming almonds, the first flowering of spring, 02021601 car pick up and to countrywhere our dear friends the Espinasses are creating a vineyard out of forested land. We arrive at the same time as another couple, Corey and Yan, eager to see what’s been done since our last visit – here’s Kirk to tell you all about it:
Today we’re at Mas de Brun vineyard in the Bandol AOC on France’s Mediterranean shore. 02021602 guys walkingIn addition to planting thousands of new, mostly Mourvèdre vines, they’re also practicing permaculture (google it). 02021601 permaculture gardenAfter successfully transplanting dozens of mature olive trees, Jean-Marc has begun terracing a nearby slope so he can plant vines on flat ground.CAM09806 transplanted then terraced slope Kristi has since hidden the backhoe from him.
There’s little organic matter left after all the excavation; so they’re trucking in forest mulch and manure to re-establish the fertile limestone ecosystem on the surface. Jean-Marc is the magician who will turn these pallets of poop pellets into pallets of delightful rosé in a few years. By the way, that’s a gorgeous sliver of blue Mediterranean in the distance – each time we visit, we can see more sea, as Jean-Marc clears the land.02021603 pellets The grape plants will grow deep into the limestone for the moisture and minerals they need.
The trois blondes enjoy the Mediterranean view while solving some very complicated problems. 02021603 girlsMas de Brun has the world’s coolest toilet paper holder.02021602 barrel tp holder
It’s a panel from the barrels that were used by the grape pickers before they discovered that plastic ones were easier to hoist, full of grapes, up to the back of a truck.02021602 wine barrel The side handles were used to drag the heavy wooden barrels up and down the rows filled with freshly clipped clusters.
Later we got a quick tour of the secure, underground cave where some bottles are stored for a rainy day. 02021603 cave kKristin sets a beautiful table – limes and artichoke stalks from the garden down the center. 02021601 espinasses lunch pretty table limes and artichokes from gardenBehold beautiful Bandol rosè (the first ever from this vineyard, in unlabelled bottles – the wine can’t be sold before the plants are in the ground for 3 years) made and served by a highly experienced and skilled professional. 02021603 roseGoes great with Kristin’s awesome quiche and convivial company. 02021601 k quiches and jms no label roseWould you like to read and see more about this delightful lunch? Here’s Corey’s blog, Tongue in Cheek, and Kristi’s French Word a Day – enjoy!