Showing Off Aix

Showing Off Aix

Easter Week 2017
Aix en Provence, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to summer –  why not join us on the fabulous Amalfi Coast , in Provence, or Amsterdam?

It’s our chance to show off our much-loved city of Aix this week, as we begin another Aix Easter Festival Tour. From markets in bloom to historical collections in the Museum of Old Aix, from favorite squares such as Place Albertas to Mary and saints keeping watch from neighborhood corners, it’s truly a pleasure to share!
Of course the cuisine is a big draw too – I’m excited to introduce my all-time fave dessert,  Café Gourmand, to our guest! And then there are the venues in which we enjoy our meals – the weather is perfect for al fresco dining.
Before our first concert of the tour, in the Grand Theatre, we’re invited to our neighbors for a lavish Aperitif, and a viewing of their exquisite museum-quality collections.As we walk back from the concert the Rotonde gleams a goodnight. Sleep well, tomorrow will be full of more discoveries!

Riviera Beauties – from Towns to Gardens

Riviera Beauties – from Towns to Gardens

Wednesday, April 6, 2017
The Riviera, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to summer –  why not join us on the fabulous Amalfi Coast , in Provence, or Amsterdam?

Menton’s cheery yellow market is the first stop of the day. With the colorful town rising behind, the mountains beyond, flowering lemon trees (Menton is proud of its lemons and has a fabulous festival celebrating them every February – a terrific winter trip!) and fresh produce show off in a beautiful setting.
Our tour continues with picturesque squares, perfectly shabby shutters, and steep vaulted passageways. We’ve been told that “Riviera” signifies mountains meeting the sea, and Menton’s built right into this abrupt rise from the water.Outside of town near a hilltop village, the Val Rameh gardens offer a round-the-world botany tour clustered around a lovely home. From jasmine draped bridges to bamboo forests and even a unique specimen of the Toromiro tree of Easter Island, it’s a fascinating wander.
The one garden and villa we’ve visited before, when we hosted a private tour of Provence and the Riviera in 2010, is the fabulous Villa Ephrussi-Rothschild. We’re invited for lunch and a quick tour of the interior before entering the gardens, fragrant with wisteria and in full spring bloom.My favorites of the 7 gardens are the Florentine, with azalea draped architectural beauties, and the Spanish, golden arches beside an Alhambra-like rectangle of water.
With views across the bay to Villefranche-sur-Mer, I can well understand the choice of this perfect peninsula for the majestic home and gardens.
As on our previous visit, I could spend hours by these musical dancing fountainswhat a delight!

Abundance in Aix

Abundance in Aix

A weekend in France, November 2016
Paris, 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.

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. cam15259A 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. cam15269Due 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!cam15275The 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.cam15277As 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. cam15302An 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, cam15310portraying 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 – cam15318-copyand 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,cam15323on 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!  cam15328And 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 – cam15329so 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! cam15337We arrive at St. Jean de Malte just as their mass ends, cam15344and 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, cam15346with 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!




Aix the Lovely

Aix the Lovely

Friday, April 18, 2014
Aix en Provence, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Join us on a summer tour on the Amalfi Coast, in Provence, or in Amsterdam/Belgium

So much eye candy… wisteria across the lane,

lavender filling a wheelbarrow,

rose chilling in one fountain,

pigeons sipping at another,

spring market bounty… inspiring dinner for tonight!

And yet another inviting fountainside spot

And there’s always something going on on Cours Mirabeau –

such as this band ready to rumble, passed as I walked to meet Kirk, arriving today. He had a great surprise on his United flight across the water- a very unexpected upgrade! So he had a lovely meal and a good lie-flat rest, lucky guy.
All three of our Aix Festival Tour guests are arriving a day early, today, so we’ve invited them for dinner at our house.The Alwards have flown in from Washington, and Jill has trained all day from southwest France.
On the way to pick them up to come to our place, Kirk encounters a Good Friday procession of penitents walking to the Cathedral for the evening service. A solemn group, led by robed men carrying a crucifix, slowly processed through town. As they passed through the squares, musical combos would pause their playing in respect.

We’ve told  the Alwards and Jill about each other, and, as we knew they would, they totally enjoyed each others company.

What a pleasure it is to have them in our home – three frequent Music and Markets Tours guests, who have all become dear friends.

And yes, that inspiring spring market bounty hit the spot on our table tonight!