Farewell to Aix

Farewell to Aix

Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Aix en Provence, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
How about celebrating Mozart in the matchless city of Bath, England in November?

One last day…and it’s a market day. No, we won’t buy anything else, but we’ve got to walk through and just take it all in one more time. Passing another sweet door-topper, 08251501 am walkand a mysterious sunny corner,08251501 sunlit corner

we stroll through the bustling squares, passing a beautiful fountain or two, 08251501 fountainthe warm scents of fresh-baked bread, 08251501 market breadthe best paella man – yes, it’s going fast!08251501 paella going fastIt still feels like summer here  – need a flirty fedora? 08251501 summer fedorasBut fall’s encroaching, we’ve walked over crunchy leaves in our square, and here the fall colors creep in to the market. 08251501 market fall colorsWe’ve got another taste or two that we don’t want Cassidy to miss, so amble over to a favorite restaurant, Le Bouddoir, on lovely Place des Tanneurs, 08251502 for lunch for lunch. 08251502 lunch bouddoirLeave room for dessert – you’ve GOT to try Café Gourmand! 08251503 cassidy has to try thisCassidy agrees, it’s a fabulous French invention…who wouldn’t like FOUR desserts rather than just one?!
One more stop – a new pirate-themed candy shop, where she stocks up for the long flight tomorrow. 08251503 gotta show you thisWe take the long way home, peeking in on another favorite square, Place Albertas, 08251503 long way homeand walking through our adjacent square, where lunch is still in session.08251503 still lunchingThen I get to work packing and cleaning, and Cassidy studies on the windowsill, still her favorite perch. 08251503 studying while i packOk, chores done, we can fit in a final concert or two – and we begin with the group we heard rehearsing earlier right next door, the Percussion and Brass sections of the OJF,08251504 concert from the windowsill video too French Youth Orchestra – here’s a Spanish themed piece. They’re terrific musicians all!
And last of all, a choral group in the cloister, also just next door.08251504 last one in rarely open cloister Aaah Aix, we’re going to miss you!

Markets and Friends in Aix

Markets and Friends in Aix

September 2014

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  How about an unforgettable holiday with us at  New Years’ Jazz in Italy

Continuing to intersperse our kitchen renovation meetings and research with some south of France fun, we can’t miss a daily walk through the market, where fall is definitely making a change in the offerings.

The thrice-weekly pottery vendor in Place des Precheurs adds a splash of color every season of the year – I’m always tempted by his wares!And I’m hoping for more shelf space after the kitchen renovation…to display some of these pretty pieces!

We’ve blogged several times about Le Bouddoir on pretty Place des Tanneurs, and suggest it to new friends from Washington for lunch one day – they enjoyed it as much as we do!

Monika’s Tartare met her high standards,

and after hearing about Café Gourmand, she tried that out (along with me, of course – wouldn’t miss it!).

It’s always a great idea to have three or four desserts rather than just one, right?

That's Life in Aix

That's Life in Aix

Summer in Aix 2014

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  How about an unforgettable holiday with us at  New Years’ Jazz in Italy

August 15 is the biggest holiday of the summer in France and Italy, Assumption Day, when Catholics believe that Mary was transported miraculously to heaven. Although the countries are not that religious now, the day’s still a great excuse for a final summer vacation, so the autoroutes are jammed with travelers heading south, and Aix is full of smiling visitors. We’ve been expecting more peals than we hear every day from the cathedral belltower, and as the bells sound, the faithful troop into mass.

Without fail, the market sets up, business as usual, the saucisson man offering nibbles of his sausages,

the vegetables arrayed as if ready for an artist  – we’re not the only ones stopping for a photo every day!

Le Bouddoir is one of the few restaurants that offer specials even on a holiday – most places clearly state that their “plat du jour” is available only for workday lunch. So we check out their three choices of the day, and happily enjoy a delicious meal from the smiling staff for the second day in a row.

Saturday brings the flowers back to the Hotel de Ville square,

and brides as well – I didn’t catch a photo of the happy couple in the square, but noticed the petals on the cobbled courtyard of the town hall, where the official ceremony takes place.

During July and August, each evening, and on Sunday during the day, booths of enticing treats line the Cours Mirabeau,

and after church we stroll down the broad walkway, tasting the spice cake, smelling the lavender, trying on the hats.

The latest exposition in the Gallerie d’Art du Conseil Général des Bouches du Rhône on the Cours is photography of artist’s ateliers, from Picasso to Warhol – the photographers often as renowned as the artists.

Recognize Picasso?

And here’s Pollack, caught in the act. This is a terrific little free gallery, provided by the Bouches du Rhone, which is the state or province within which Aix is found. Their motto is Ici La Cuture est Partout – here culture is everywhere. Just ONE of the reasons we love Aix!

We’ve reserved a table on the rosé fountain square that we like so much – have noticed this restaurant, l’Incontournable (the essential, this means, the owner tells us)

and are happy to find that the food is as good as the setting – with intriguing Asian flavors keeping our tastebuds guessing.

Then it’s back to the office (in the apartment) for Kirk, who’s continuing to work very long hours even on the weekend – we’re fitting in a bit of together time and fun in bits and pieces!

Mountains, Markets and Music

Mountains, Markets and Music

Summer in Aix 2014

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  How about an unforgettable holiday with us at  New Years’ Jazz in Italy

The buzz continues from morning til night in Aix… when we walked through Forum des Cardeurs, which is packed with restaurants, after 10 Tuesday night nearly every table was still filled, families, friends, couples and groups laughing and chatting as they sipped and supped.

Wednesday began with crashing thunderstorms and heavy rain, but by 11 the sun was out and the market was bustling. We always look forward to Zucchini Beignets from our favorite produce vendor – something I don’t make, but am happy to buy!

As quiet as our lane, rue Adanson, is, it’s always surprising to see the crowds just a block beyond us – and today the main street through old town is packed!

We have an early morning date on Thursday, and meet our neighbors at 6:15 to drive to the countryside for a hike, which they’ve planned so that we can arrive to the view of Mt. Saint Victoire as the sun rises – and it was worth getting up early!

The hike continues to a large dam, built in 1952, and now a part of EDF, France’s electric company.

With such an early start, we’re back to Aix in plenty of time for the big Thursday market. Even if we’re not buying, we enjoy joining the crowds strolling down Cours Mirabeau, where, under the gaze of Good King René,  the clothing vendors spread out their wares just on Thursdays.

You can stylishly outfit yourself from head

to toe.

You can usually find great deals at lunchtime in France on weekdays, and Le Bouddoir on charming Place des Tanneurs is one of the best options in town, with not just one Plat du Jour (dish of the day), but THREE. It’s a lovely place for an alfresco meal, and my pork tenderloin in a grainy mustard sauce is super, as is Kirk’s roulade of sole.

While we were waiting for our table (reservations recommended, especially if you want an outdoor table) Kirk read through a promotional book about Aix hotels, restaurants, and boutiques, and noted one just down the street that had been recently renovated and upgraded, so we decided to check it out.
The Hotel de France receptionist showed us a couple of rooms – really nice, spacious, lovely decor.
The breakfast room was highly touted in the book – a valued historic spot that we were not aware of  – so we made sure to see it too.

The balconies from the front rooms look out on Place des Augustins, with double-glazed windows which keep the rooms peaceful and quiet.

This Place is always packed with diners, walkers, and even cars driving around the star-topped fountain – one of the places where it’s an obstacle course to walk!

The OFJ (youth orchestra) is playing again tonight, this time atop the terrace of the Grand Theatre (where we attended several marvelous concerts on our Aix Easter Festival Tour). The percussion gang lets everyone in hearing distance know that the show’s about to start. Great views, aren’t there? See the cathedral belltower, of which we often post photos when we walk out our front door?

And there’s that mountain where we hiked this morning…

One ensemble after another treats us to chamber music, prefacing their piece with an informative and playful introduction – this quartet is playing a snippet of Mendelsohnn’s wedding march before reminding us that he composed much more than that, drawing on his many life experiences,

and playing one of his beautiful string quartets.