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!




A Few Days in Aix

A Few Days in Aix

November , 2015
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.

Both night and day find us out strolling favorite lanes, enjoying the sparkle of Christmas lights and markets on Cours Mirabeau,11231501 coursthe delicate beauty of the Repetto windows – Swan Lake featured this month,11231501 repettothen the morning markets, winter warmers in abundance.11241501 markets winter warmersBeside the annual Santon (little saint) market the clothing booths spread out,11241501 markets and further into the medieval center are the daily produce markets.11241502 baskets fullOn Place des Precheurs Kirk checks out the Moroccan house slippers, finds a pair big enough, 11241501 moroccan slippers for terracotta tiles photo of bottomand to his question “how can you tell which is which?” the amiable vendor marks the leather bottoms with left and right  – L, G for gauche (French) and after teasingly offering to write it in Arabic too, we eagerly say YES – so Kirk can tell in all three languages.11241501 moroccan slippers marked left gauche and arabic how to know whichArabic’s the prettiest, no?
We always try a different way home, wanting to enjoy all the streets, and pass by a new shop – Santa Maria Novella, a Florence favorite, now has an Aixoise boutique!11241502 fragrant smnovella in aixOn the spur of the moment we invite neighbors over for an apero this evening, Wednesday, so it’s time to refresh the drooping eucalyptus on the mantel with a bunch of red ranunculus.11251502 flowers refreshedAfter stocking our cupboards with a bunch of goodies for the gathering, we fit in another stroll, eager to grab all we can of this gorgeous town before flying away soon.11251502 frequent strolls last traces of fallAnd after a fun evening, candles gleaming from the hearth,11251502 neighbors apero hereit’s time for yet another walk down Cours Mirabeau,11251503 another late strollthen by Cathedral Saint Sauveur.11251503 cours mirabeau then back to our quartierThursday’s our last day here, and although we’re not buying anything to eat (we’ll just clean out the refrigerator for our final meals), we HAVE to wander through the colorful market stalls. And today there’s MUSIC with our market!11261501 music with our marketWe’ve started a Santon collection for our youngest grandaughter, Ivy, and she has requested baby Jesus this year…so we return to the delightful stalls at the bottom of Cours Mirabeau11261501 santon fair and choose a nativity trio for her, enjoying the vignettes set up by the vendors.11261501 santonWe head towards another side of town for a pre-dinner walk, 11261502 eve walkending up as the sun sets on Cours Mirabeau again, where the hot mulled wine stall is, as usual, the busiest of all.11261503 as usualAix doesn’t have big department store windows decorated for the holidays, but it does have an annual Creche set up near Monoprix on Cours Mirabeau, filled with huddles of santons busy with life – fishermen on the nearby coast,11261503 no shop windows but santon crechedancing Arlesiennes (in the lovely traditional dress of Arles, a city west of here),11261503 dancing arlesiennesand olive harvesters. 11261503 picking olivesYes, there’s a nativity scene tucked up in the corner, Mt. Sainte Victoire snowcapped beyond.
Some things certainly stand out more on a winter evening, when interior lights are lit although it’s still relatively early. We’ve never seen the interior of the Palais de Justice, but are drawn in by it’s gleam as we walk by. 11261504 justice palaceThe beautiful double tiered cour certainly impresses!
After a delicious dinner of leftovers (so much more interesting when we’re leaving France rather than Virginia!) we walk around one more time, appreciating this lovely over-door in the adjacent square,11261504 more noticeable after dark with light inside and the full moon over our favorite pediment on the town hall square.11261504 one more stroll after clean out frig dinner

Goodnight and goodbye, Aix – we’re already planning our return trip!



Bling and Bach in Aix en Provence

Bling and Bach in Aix en Provence

late November, 2012
Aix en Provence, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Next on the itinerary: Our spring tours in Barcelona, Venice or Prague


Aix welcomes us back with bling of its own – it’s not just Paris who knows how to dress up for the holidays! The elegant Rotonde fountain at the end of Cours Mirabeau drips with glittering lights rather than water.
We schlepped a 6 foot drapery rod and lining material back from the Grands Magasins (department stores) of Paris – another plus of traveling by train rather than air – and now the work begins, actually on Thanksgiving Day!

I’m sewing the lining onto the backs of our striped drapes, for a prettier view than the additional set of curtains left by the previous owner that met the eye in the foyer.

Kirk finds his drill and installs the brass rod, replacing a sagging wooden pole that’s been doing the job since we bought the apartment. Now doesn’t it look nice?!

And here’s the new lining – it looks better in person than the photo.

Our reward for the work of the day? Aperitifs and enjoyable conversation with our wonderful neighbor across the street, then a leisurely stroll down sparkly Cours Mirabeau, where the Christmas Market chalets, filled with toys, gifts, warm hats and gloves, line one side of the street.

The Vin Chaud (hot wine) both is the busiest of all,

and gleaming Good King Rene watches over the children’s rides set up at the far end of the Cours.

We’re invited for dinner at another friend’s home on Friday, and I must share this intriguing first course – a platter of five different kinds of smoked fish. I am usually not a fan of smoked items, but each one of these, from mackerel to tuna to three kinds of salmon, were absolutely fabulous, mild and full of flavor, served with blinis and tzatziki.
We asked Xavier where he found so many different kinds of smoked fish, and he described a sailor’s boutique with all kinds of boating equipment and clothes, but also food that would travel well on the sea, such as this amazing selection of smoked fish. The cool and creamy tzatziki (a tangy Greek yogurt/cucumber dip) was perfect with it – I’d love to find some really good smoked salmon and serve this myself!

We’ve been cooking at home (when not invited out!) while in Aix, and treat ourselves to lunch out on Saturday, our last day here, at a place we read about on Aixcentric and have wanted to try – Le Comte d’Aix. I’m sure no one’s surprised that we both choose to complete our dining in Aix with  perfectly cooked duck breast, served with a sweet tart apple reduction – delicieux!
We began our latest visit here with a surprise concert in the cathedral last Sunday, and finish it tonight with an evening of Bach , presented by the J.S. Bach Academie -Aix,  in one of the protestant “temples” as they’re called. A fitting musical finale as we look forward to the holidays.

Au revoir Aix – we’ve enjoyed your Christmas sparkle!
And we wish all of you a wonderful Christmas – may it be filled with love, beauty, and joy!