Here and There in the South of France

Here and There in the South of France

July 2017
Provence, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Why not join us on our newest tour in September – Bordeaux and Dordogne

Not a day goes by that we don’t walk through the market – a visual feast, which always includes smells – breathe in the lavender, the olives, the goat cheeses – and sometimes tastes urged on us by friendly vendors. So even if we’re on our way elsewhere we must walk through the daily market on Place Richelme.
Evenings find us at friend’s homes – in the countryside near Bandol, east of Aix, or up near the rooftops of Aix on a terrace, where grill-master Xavier tosses something fabulous onto the heat.One day friends come into town for the market, and we meet for lunch at the legendary Deux Garçons, where Zola and Cezanne used to hang out. A couple of ladies order the Plateau des Fruits de Mer, towering piles of fresh seafood, but find they can’t quite finish it up – Kirk to the rescue! Three of the group were our first visitors to Ambiance d’Aix the week we bought it in 2010, so we convince them all to stop by on their way to see the cathedral – first time we’ve ever had 15 people in our apartment! On one scorcher of a day we buzz over to the beach – hot as it is, the water’s still chilly and refreshing, and the sea breeze even cools down everything at night more than in the city, as we find when we spend an evening with friends in Cassis. Out the window we watch as water jousters practice for the upcoming tournament. “Who are you rooting for, the red or the blue?” asks Yann.
Corey’s tablescapes are always as lovely as they are delicious – dig in! As usual, I’m entranced by the view, changing by the minute.Before dessert we all walk out to the lighthouse and back – the purple glow marks Chez Gilbert, and the apartment above we’re getting to know and love.
Thanks, friends, for memorable moments!



Shopping and Sea

Shopping and Sea

Friday, May 17, 2013 
Delights in the South of 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

The last full day of our Grand Tour of Provence and the Riviera begins in Aix, where it’s time to catch up on shopping, a very easy thing to do with all of the enticing boutiques lining the lanes.  Steve’s lucky friends and family will love their tablecloths and napkins, I’m sure – I certainly do!

In between shops, Kirk shows off some of our favorite squares and sights in the town… such as Place Albertas,

then we hop in the car and head for the coast, and another favorite, the colorful seaside village of Cassis.
Soon we’re heading out to sea for a tour of the beautiful calanques, fjord-like inlets between Marseilles and Cassis,

and beyond the harbor it certainly gets rougher… hold on!

The sea’s much calmer as we enter the cliff-edged cove, the farthest of the three calanques we’ll visit, En Vau.

Turquoise crystal water laps on a tiny beach – a perfect place for a quiet nap on a warmer day….

Then back to charming Cassis

under a bristling fortress,

for a little more retail endeavor,where Steve finds an elegant Provençal souvenir  for almost everyone in the Souleiado boutique. The friendly salesladies are happy to model one scarf after another, and then wrap each one beautifully.

Then back to Aix, leaving some time to pack for tomorrow’s departure before an Apero at our place (thank you, Steve, for that gorgeous scarf I’m wearing – what a wonderful memento of this fabulous week together!)
before a marvelous dinner at Poivre d’Ane on Place de Cardeurs. We choose the Chef’s Inspiration multi- course feast… beginning with a terrine of foie gras and smoked duck breast, garnished with a colorful pansy.
We assured Steve that the portions would be small since there were at least five courses… but, after with the Sea Bass with caramelized turnips (!) and champagne sauce,

and continuing to the tender lamb and spring vegetables,

we’re quickly filling up with delicious- ness.
Of course we do manage to guard room for dessert, and agree that this has been a fine finale to our many wonderful dining experiences of the week.
Before flying out on Saturday, Steve back to the States and we on to Venice for our next tour, we had breakfast in an Aix institution, the Deux Garçons on Cours Mirabeau, where Cezanne and Zola used to hang out in the same Belle Epoque ambiance that remains today.

And Steve was privileged to experience another French institution, the GREVE, or strike, as a raucous group marched through the airport as we were checking in, chanting and singing and flaunting their signs. We asked a few people what the strike was about, but no one knew, and the signs touted ” We strike because in France it is a RIGHT” ….. ok. Thanks for the experience, and au revoir France. We’ll be back as soon as we can!