Aix is a Feast!

Aix is a Feast!

Easter Weekend, April 4-5 , 2015
Aix-en-Provence, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to summer – join us on the fabulous Amalfi Coast in July?

We’re eager to meet our Music and Markets guest, Elaine, and walk through market squares over flowing with jazz and early spring produce on the way to her hotel.04041501 aix market VIDEO TOO and tour beginsWhat a joy it is to share favorite sights and places once again – all the way from the thermal waters that brought the Romans here centuries ago04041501 termes to Saint Saveur Cathedral, begun not long after the Romans were here.04041501 cathedralWe fill our afternoon with one beautiful square after another, checking out fountains and vistas, take a break, then meet again for a special first-night dinner at Aix’s favorite celebration restaurant, Le Formal.04041502 trio From the foie gras, 04041502 dinner foie gras firstthrough the lamb medley, 04041502 lamb medleyto ” Chocolate Tempation”  we’re delighted, 04041503 chocolate temptationas always, with chef Jean-Luc’s creations.
Easter Sunday rings in with a rousing organ trumpet voluntary at the cathedral.04051501 Easter music video too Elaine’s been studying French and the three of us can follow the Easter sermon pretty well, and then ” share the light”  with the candles handed out as we entered. 04051501 sharing the lightThere’s a lot more going on in Aix today – it’s the first Sunday of the month, so the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville is filled with vintage books rather than flowers.04051502 first sunday book fair where flowersAlthough it’s cool, the beaming sun encourages an al fresco lunch on Place des Tanneurs…04051502 lunch al frescocompleted with my all-time favorite dessert, Café Gourmand!04051502 my faveAnother first Sunday event, the monthly antique and vintage fair, fills the Cours Mirabeau.040515023 cours first sunday antiquesLater, our neighbor, Jean Claude, welcomes the three of us with an aperitif and a tour of his marvelous ceramic collection 040515023 pre concert aperobefore we enjoy the first of our scheduled concerts, an evening of breathtaking violin and piano in the Grand Theatre. We had not heard Maxim Vengerov before, and although we’ve enjoyed other world-renowned violinists through the years, his tender rich sound just enthralls – a new favorite violinist!040515024 marvelous concert From Prokofiev to Dvorak, Kreisler to Paganini (whose Caprice # 24 in F minor had the audience break out in applause after one fabulous pizzicato variation!) we were on the edge of our seats. A couple of French encores, Faure’s Apres Une Reve (which I love playing with my cellist friend Sarah) and Massenet’s delightful Meditation had us humming in memory as we walked past the Rotonde in the moonlight. 040515024 rotonde moonThis first concert of the week will be hard to beat!

Music and Markets in Aix begins!

Music and Markets in Aix begins!

Easter Weekend, April, 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

After a wonderful Music and Markets week, so full of delights from early til late, I finally have time to share some photos  – on the flight home!
It’s always a pleasure to step out the door of Ambiance d’ Aix and see what’s up in this lively town.
The latest exhibition spills out on the square from a gallery,

the Saturday flower market draws a crowd – artists sketching, groups snapping photos, ladies choosing blooms,

and buskers entertain the shoppers – here a music-box clown, here a popular combo.

We meet our tour guests for an al fresco lunch on Place de Tanneurs, followed by a tour of Aix.

Beginning with the Romans, we check out the vestiges of the baths (in the Thermes Sextius, now a luxury spa) which made Aix such a desirable location for those war-weary world-conquerors.

 Inside the cathedral, built atop the forum,

yet more traces of ancient Rome remain – such as a few columns in the ancient baptistry.

A volunteer guide offers tours around the lovely cloister, which is usually closed – so we enjoy learning more together about this peaceful, flower-filled spot,

each intricate capital telling a story.

Answering questions as we stroll, we don’t even make it to Cours Mirabeau before it’s time to change for dinner… and finish our Aix introduction at elegant Place Albertas.

Chef Jean-Luc welcomes us to Le Formal, the every-popular Aix favorite, and we all
choose the tasting menu,

discovering together his creations…. each one a mouthwatering delight, from scallops

to chocolate baskets.

We never tire of sharing wonderful Aix… the sights, the tastes, the sounds.

Back to the South

Back to the South

Aix en Provence, France
Weekend of 8 February, 2014
Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  We’re looking ahead to Spring – May in Venice, Barcelona, or Prague, and our newest  – Aix en Provence for the Easter Festival.

Our literary journey will continue, but in the south of France, so we say adieu to Paris, hop on the TGV (fast train) at Gare de Lyon, and before we know it we’re back in Aix.

We quickly drop our luggage at Ambiance d’Aix and make it in time for our 1:00 table (that’s as late a reservation as they’ll take) at Le Formal, where Karen is treating us to lunch. Wow – twice in one week at this fabulous place! Karen’s impressed too, and we chat with chef Jean Luc and remind him we’ll be back with our Music and Markets Easter Festival group in April.
Saturday’s a bit damp, but we can’t miss strolling the markets – and look at this line just beyond our little lane! It’s opening day for in-store sales of the summer  Aix Festival tickets, and all wait patiently to get the best tickets possible for this stellar festival. Thoughtful staff pass out coffee to the lineup, some who arrived as early as 5 to wait in line.

We have quite a few things on our list as we’ve invited our favorite Aixoise mystery writer for lunch today. We take Karen by our favorite little egg lady, and through the bustle of the produce stalls, bright with citrus, piled with a plethora of mushrooms, fragrant with those inimitable French cheeses. Just nothing like it – and we have the pleasure EVERY day here in Aix!

Remember Ken and Mary Lou? We had a wonderful lunch in their new countryside home in August, and really enjoy catching up, and hearing about Mary Lou’s newest mystery (#4 in the Verlaque and Bonnet series), which will be released in a few months.

How about some jazz with your Sunday morning coffee? A little combo entertains those hearty enough to sit outside on the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville.

It’s a lovely day to show off some of our favorite corners of the city. Karen, who owned a home in Provence for decades, has of course been in Aix before, but enjoys the pretty spots as much as we do,

and some, like our much-loved Pavilion Vendome, are new to her.

Lunch today is at Bistroquet, on a tiny square, Place Ramus – delicious all the way to the apple-fig crumble with which I finish.
As we’re standing on the Place de l’Archveché, I notice a playful graffiti high on a roof, and it’s a fitting goodbye  (we’re flying to Italy on Monday) – Aix, we love you!