14 juillet – Celebrate!

14 juillet – Celebrate!

July 14, 2017
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?

France is celebrating today, and so are we – It’s Kirk’s birthday! As you may remember, he LOVES spending it in France since the whole country parties for him 🙂
How does he want to start the day? With a walk up the hill to Cezanne’s atelier and oft-used painting perch beyond, now the Terrain de Peintres, showcasing several of his portrayals of Mt. Saint Victoire painted from right in this spot.
In the afternoon we take in Aix’s newest museum, the Hôtel de Caumont in the Mazarine district. We were there years ago when it was the headquarters of the Music Conservatory, and although we’ve attended a concert in the courtyard, this is the first time we’ve been inside since the complete and lavish restoration. As we walk through the rooms with decor faithful to the 18th century, the period of the building, I’m reminded that a friend encouraged me to see the interior to get ideas for decorating our apartment of the same era. Our budget is not quite the same as the Caumont 😉
Upstairs, the rooms are always devoted to a particular exhibition, and until October 15 Sisley the impressionist is the beautifully curated collection. The rooms are spacious and uncrowded, allowing us to absorb the superb paintings at our leisure.More than any other artist Sisley draws you into his spacious landscapes. You feel as if you’re walking under that vast sky, brushing your fingers in the rippling river, listening to the twitter of birds in the trees. We’ve been to countless museums in our lives, but this is a new favorite…and the visit will be memorable since it’s part of our birthday celebration!
From top to bottom the Caumont is a treasure…and then there’s the tea room and garden! After sipping a cup in the shade, we snap a birthday selfie then just sit and enjoy – even on a hot summer day it’s cool and comfortable in the garden.
The party’s not over yet! After a delicious birthday dinner we listen to a string quartet in another beautiful mansion’s courtyard, then join the revelers on Cours Mirabeau – watching all ages sing along to French pop standards that we’ve never heard before – even the très cool teens and twenties sing the oldies as they dance!
Bonne fête, France, and Joyeaux Anniversaire, Kirk!


Spring Beauty in Aix

Spring Beauty in Aix

Sunday, April 2, 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?

We arrived in Aix over two weeks ago, and it’s been non-stop ever since, enjoying the sunny south from Spain all the way to Italy, and finally back to Aix where at last I can scribble a blog post. When we arrived on Saturday the 1st it was pouring rain, and for the first time we couldn’t enjoy our walk from the airport shuttle stop to our home in Aix…a taxi whizzed us and our luggage through the storm.
Happily, the sun showed it’s face on Sunday – there’s that blue sky we know and love! So before leaving for the next part of our trip (after less than 24 hours in Aix) we sought out the spring blooms – gracing the Palais de Justice, circling the Rotonde fountain, peeking over a garden wall and and draping a home in  the Mazarin quarter – wouldn’t you love to sit on that balcony, sipping a glass of rosé?!
Well we’re certainly in the mood to begin the garden tour of the Riviera to which we’ve been invited – next stop, Nice!


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!




Art in the Streets in Aix

Art in the Streets 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

Friday evening finds us back in the gracious Mazarin Quartier for an “Apero Arty” at Galerie Maison Dauphine. Ambiance d’Aix is on the north side of town, in the oldest part of Aix, with narrow curvy lanes. This newer part of town from the 1700s, on the south end of the historic center, is laid out in a grid, each wide street lined with elegant Hôtels Particuliers, private homes, most with spacious gardens, such as those we visited last weekend.

We read about tonight’s event on Aixcentric (Lynne is SO good at keeping us informed of goings on in Aix and surrounds!) and had seen the Jimmy C, the artist’s, signature heart “street art” on the site. We weren’t expecting to see fine art as well – who knew that scenes such as this – Southbank, could be painted with “drip art”?!

A blank canvas awaits further work outside,

and the tools of his trade are lined up inside.

We nibble on the appetizers and sip a glass of wine as we look at the paintings, taking time to talk with Jimmy, whose work also graces walls in New York, Paris, Istanbul and other major cities.
Isn’t this a dreamy rendition of Notre Dame and the Seine?

Now for the live action art – and a heart’s soon up on the canvas.

Once it’s filled in, and the background prepared,

the drip technique starts, as Jimmy holds the can right up close and in short bursts paints the drips.

A few starry finishing touches and he finishes, just in time as night falls, to a round of applause from spectators.

Less than a block away is one of Aix’s most beautiful fountains, the Quatre Dauphins, a delightful reminder of Aix’s mottto – Ville d’Eau, Ville d’Art – how true!

Our last day, Saturday, and the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville is SO packed we can hardly walk through. Tour groups and painting classes cluster ’round the colorful flowermart, and tour guides tell tales of the clocktower and the fountain.

Meanwhile civil weddings, one after the other, take place in the Hôtel de Ville (town hall), adding yet more people and festivities to the square.

Xavier and Michele have invited us for lunch on the rooftop terrace, where Xavier the grillmaster prepares a feast.

We’ve brought a raspberry lemon tart from Paul – first time we’ve seen that combination, and it’s a hit with all four of us! “Take the rest for dessert on the boat”  we wave goodbye to Xavier til next trip, as he and Michele will be on the water for the rest of the weekend.

And we enjoy some more art to finish off our stay, as it’s the monthly artists expo in front of the law school.

Jean Claude has returned from Paris, so we invite him for an apero before finishing our packing and cleaning.

Au revoir, Aix, we’ll be back soon