An Extravagant Saturday in Aix

An Extravagant Saturday in Aix

Saturday, May 21, 2016
Aix en Provence, France

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Extravagant? Why? Because there is so much to enjoy in Aix today that we can’t even fit it all in! We begin by meeting friends for coffee at Pain Quotidien, 05211601 coffee with friendscatch up on each other’s news, and make plans to get together in August when we return (can’t wait to see Bénédicte,s latest garden folly – a treehouse!).
Then off we go to troll the markets – we need hats for tomorrow’s garden day. What do you think?05211601 hats for the garden 5 eEspadrilles, anyone?05211601 espadrillesWe pass by Cezannés last dwelling on our way home, noting the tall and wide window of the studio he had built on the top floor – 05211601 stroll by cezannes house upper studiowe’d never noticed that before, but recently read about it and looked high to see it for ourselves today.
Later we begin our gallery/museum wander…first the latest expo next door, beside the lovely cloister by the Palais de l’Archevêché.05211601 square archv galleries cloister The artist’s scenes of Venice remind us of our stay there earlier this year – could we fit a canvas in our suitcase??
This evening, from 7 until midnight, is Open Museum Night, and from one end of town to another there are special events in the glorious old buildings, all free entry. We begin at the Museum of Old Aix, where a guitarist strums on the grand staircase as we enter. 05211602 aix old museum guitaristThe rooms are filled with treasures of ages past – gorgeous mirrors, exquisite doll houses, 05211602 aix open museum from 7 12tall room dividers with scenes from centuries ago. And the building itself, a former home of an eighteenth century nobleman, remarkable both inside and out.05211602 museum of old aix ceilingNext stop, the Museum of Tapestries, in the Archbishop’s Palace just beside our apartment. Ascending the grand staircase, 05211604 stairwaywe pause in a room lined with fabulous tapestries05211602 palace tapestry museum as an ensemble warbles ancient Jewish tunes.05211602 palace art below music above video tooWe’ve visited Aix’s main art museum, the Granet, several times, but step inside the crowded courtyard to watch some energetic and emotional modern dance, then stroll through a room or two of art, 05211603 granetbefore walking by the Four Dolphins fountain on the way to Cours Mirabeau.05211603 quatre dauphinsThis evening is also the finale of Journées d’Eloquence, Days of Eloquence, literary performances commemorating the Resistance in France. We’ve seen readings in front of the Town Hall near our home, music and dance in an open-air shopping mall, and tonight, on the Cours Mirabeau,as a chorus sings and a narrator speaks, a line-up of actors dressed in World War II period uniforms and clothes help the audience picture what the words express. 05211603 rjournees eloquenceAn officer and staff roll off in the vintage car, flags fluttering, as the program ends.
At the other end of the Cours the full moon peeps above the horizon,05211603 rotonde moon and we walk by yet another of Aix’s beautiful fountains on our way to the last event of this extravagant Saturday.05211603 to pav vendome The Pavilion Vendome has been taken over by young artists, and one after the other flash their techno creations on the elegant façade 05211603 vendome atlantesas the crowd sits on the grass, oohing and aahing at the sight. A day FILLED with the delights of Aix!

Museums In and Out in Aix

Museums In and Out in Aix

September 2014

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One more meeting, then we can put kitchen renovation plans aside and ENJOY wonderful Aix for our few remaining days!
Masterworks of the Pearlman Collection, Cézanne and Modernity, at the Musée Granet has been on our radar on our last few visits to Aix – it’s here for just a few weeks more so we’re on our way now. Of course we have to stroll through the market on our way  – aren’t those petite pumpkins adorable? 

Familiar works by Manet, Degas, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Modigliani and of course, Cezanne, fill the area set aside for the special exhibition. The open, airy rooms are an excellent foil for the marvelous works of art.
For a few years, the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs, constructed in the mid 1600s, has been under renovation to be an extension of the Granet, and opened in May of 2013, during the Marseilles Provence Annual Year of Culture. We’ve heard rave reviews about this space and collection too, so that’s on today’s schedule as well.

But first, lunch! Checking out nearby restaurants, we’re attracted by La Locanda’s Friday special, aioli. A common Friday offering, this simple but delicious platter of steamed vegetables and cod is served with garlic mayonnaise – and this one’s the garlic-iest we’ve ever tasted!

Although we’ve had aioli at friends homes, this is the first time we’ve ordered it at a restaurant in Aix, and we laugh at our choice – an ITALIAN restaurant for this south of France dish! But the southern Italian chef does a fine aioli… we’ll have to come back and try his Italian offerings.

And now to Granet II…where the Planque Collection, on loan to Aix for fifteen years,  is showcased. Composed of masterpieces from the late 19th and the 20th centuries, including Degas, Monet, Renoir, Braque, Picasso, and more, is beautifully hung under the vaults of the ancient chapel – a wonderful use of one of the many ancient religious buildings in historic Aix.

From an art-filled chapel, to a living museum of a town, we walk through the sunny fall afternoon, passing an antiquaire who advertises his opening not by the usual chair, but by this charming old pram.

Reveling in the beauty of Aix, we stroll across town to an old favorite, the Pavillion Vendome.

Children race their scooters and bikes around the rose garden, lovers sit on shady benches, as the Aixoise enjoy this beautiful place as much as we do.