Sunday in the Park

Sunday in the Park

Sunday & Monday, August 23-24, 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?

Even in places where we spend a lot of time, we keep looking up and around – and are often surprised by something delightful that we hadn’t previously noticed, like this little door-topping cherub. 08231501 am sundayOne of Aix’s loveliest corners, the Pavilion Vendome, is hosting a “Pique-Nique Musical” as part of Musique dans la Rue. Described as “under a Berber tent, in a nomad ambiance, you can bring your picnic…”. 08231501 berber tentWe take the (what we thought) easy way – buying middle Eastern specialties from les délices d’Aminata, who have set up a stall in the park. But with only two people serving everyone who wants to enjoy their offerings, one selling and one preparing, we didn’t know we’d have to wait more than half an hour in line, getting hungrier by the minute! But we did have musical entertainment as we waited, and the kebabs were indeed delicious! 08231501 line up for lunch and listen video tooThe much-anticipated jazz concerts scheduled for the evening were, unfortunately, rained out – a torrential storm blew through Aix Sunday evening!
Just a couple more days til we fly back to the US, and Cassidy’s now a regular at the bakery,08241502 baguette runas well as the café where she sits, sips, and studies her college textbooks on her phone. 08231502 cass cafeI’ve long appreciated the interesting classes Kathy offers at Food Lovers Odessey, both in France and Italy. Finally we’re both in Aix at the same time, so we visit her cooking school studio and enjoy a tasty aperitif. 08241501 food lovers kitchenWe’ll continue to let our Ambiance d’Aix renters know about her classes in Aix – such a delicious way to experience life here!
Monday evening’s filled with concerts again, and we enjoy a couple of them with our friends,08241502 musique then have a fun gathering in their apartment with lots of goodies from both of our refrigerators – 08241502 ordob join us then aperoit’s getting to be clean-out-the-cupboard time, always much more fun in Aix than when we’re leaving Virginia!


Markets and Music in Aix Again!

Markets and Music in Aix Again!

Saturday, August 22, 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?

If it’s Saturday you know what that means…those marvelous markets fill the streets and squares of Aix, and we can’t resist!08221501 am marketFrom mouthwatering produce to fragrant lavender, no matter how many times we see and smell these beauties it never gets old! 08221501 marketEven if we don’t plan to buy a thing, we’ve GOT to walk through and enjoy!
I’ve been eagerly anticipating figs, so difficult to find in the DC area, but plentiful here, and have been eating them every day. I’ve finally had enough to consider doing something other than just popping them in my mouth, and a fig tart is the result. 08221501 tartSo delicious with a dollop of crême fraiche!
Musique dans la Rue continues this evening, and our first choice is a wind quintet with piano in the courtyard of the Hôtel de Ville –08221502 mozart video too the playfully joyous strains of Mozart fill this beautiful space, and then we’re back next door to Ambiance d’Aix at the Place de l’Archeveché where the Funky Frogs Street Choir struts, poses and sings in harmony everything from Michael Jackson to John Williams.08221502 place archveche funky frogs Cassidy’s content to watch and listen right from her window! 08221503 from windowTogether we all go to Cours Mirabeau, where the Winner Duo with Flacko the Juggler 08221503 juggler and combo video tooentertain as they walk the elegant street. 08221503 paradingAnd we finish off the evening with another parade down the Cours, with Gershwin and Fire, the Piano on Stilts, and the Grande Diva08221504 diva time – a fabulous spectacle with music from Piaf to Bizet as the moon rises over the Rotonde. 08221504 slowly til moonriseWhat a blast, this life in Aix!!

Mountains and Music

Mountains and Music

Friday, August 21, 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?

Ali and Roxana have introduced us to some beautiful areas around Aix, as they are avid hikers. They always climb Mount Saint Victoire at least once on their trips, and last night they invited Cassidy to join them on today’s morning jaunt. Actually, she (and we) just thought it was a hike – we didn’t realize that she’d be topping the mountain! So early this morning our normally late riser is up and out the door, ready to experience the south of France countryside up close and personal.08211501 am hike group I’m not sure when she realized that she was going to climb this iconic crag, Cezanne’s favorite subject.08211501 am hike The climb involved scrabbling up on hands and knees at some points, but she made it to the top!08211501 mt topWe find out about this adventure when they all return to Aix, around 4 hours after they left – and are WOWED!
Can you guess what filled the afternoon? LOOOONG naps for all the climbers!
Tonight’s the first night of Musique Dans la Rue, our favorite Aix festival – 120 ” Moments Musicaux” from 6 to 9 each evening, for 9 days. Of outstanding quality, and all free, the concerts are in some of Aix’s most beautiful courtyards and squares, in parks and even parading through the town. The first concert is in the courtyard of the Hôtel de Ville,08211502 nap then music a superb Schumann Quintet (string quartet with piano), followed by a jazzy combo from Marseilles in the square outside.08211502 string quartet inside jazz outsideThen we choose an interesting program of early music described as “A Promenade through Musical Baroque Europe”. Before and in between the pieces the musicians read from a letter from a Russian princess traveling through Europe listening to different composers – Handel in England, Vivaldi in Italy, etc. 08211503 entry of caumontBut the French is SO fast that we catch very little – but we do enjoy the music and the locale, the courtyard in front of the Hôtel Caumont, Aix’s newest museum.
A stroll around town, a bite to eat, then home through dusky lanes –08211503 home LOVING life in Aix!

North and South in Provence

North and South in Provence

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

Two more days to revel in the beauty of the south of France – how shall we fill them? First we head north to visit friends east of Vaison la Romaine. That’s an area we’re very familiar with, but the GPS routes us on country roads through deeply wooded hills and past an impressive chateau – with not a glimpse of anything we’ve ever seen before!

Stephen and Joy are in a beautiful stone mas (country home) and before relaxing out by the pool, we tour the breezy and lovely rooms – isn’t this a dreamy bedroom?

Their daughter, a photographer extraordinare,  has claimed the room above the living room for her studio – an inspiring place to work!

We’ve often spent time with these long-time friends in Paris, where they live, and they stayed in our home in Virginia earlier in August, but we’ve rarely an opportunity to just relax together, and the pool’s just the perfect place for that.

And then, lunch – in another blissful setting…

and Stephen has prepared his “famous whole fish” – stuffed with rosemary from the garden, grilled over the coals. Oh is it good!

The cheeses couldn’t be more local – from the village over the hill that was settled by “’68ers”  – those rebel students who gladly left Paris for a simple life in the south. Joy tells us that the Friday evening market is a don’t- miss and quite an experience.

She and I pick figs to eat with the cheeses – getting even MORE local!

Another hilltop beauty winks goodnight as we drive home.

Our last day – and we head south to the shore, not wanting to miss a glimpse of the sea on this trip!

The Calanque de Figuieres on the west end of La Ciotat boasts of being an independent republic, reminding us of the Conch Republic, the Florida Keys where we lived decades ago.
The view’s terrific, and so is lunch,

with figs (Figuiere is a fig tree) a part of every dish, such as my Salade “comme à Nice”  – like in Nice

and Kirk’s fork-tender Lamb Shank.

The open-air tables fill quickly as we eat, and after that delicious meal we walk under the fig tree

and down to the tiny beach.

All we know of La Ciotat is the big cranes hovering over the industrial port that we’ve seen from afar when visiting Jean Marc and Kristin on the other side of the big bay in St. Cyr sur Mer…there’s got to be an old part of town….yes, and what a beauty!

Well we’d better get back to Aix to finish the packing in time for a few more concerts….
A talented tango trio

in the beautiful courtyard of the town hall first,

then, strolling through some favorite squares, we’re hailed down by friends and join them at their front table to listen to a rousing brass group….

Au Revoir, Aix – we’ll be back soon!


Mountains and Music

Mountains 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

Our overnight at beautiful Hotel les Lodges Saint Victoire put us the closest we’ve been to Cezanne’s mountain, and an afternoon drive and walk got us even closer.

We continued to be surprised at the depth of the countryside feel – just minutes from bustling Aix. Loved this vintage road sign directing us back to the city.

And just down the road, an old 2 Chevaux – we do see more of those in the country than in the cities.

We got a lazy start Friday – enjoying a lavish continental breakfast on the terrace of the hotel, then driving southeast to the Bandol area for lunch at Mary Lou and Ken’s.

Mary Lou’s latest novel in the Verlaque and Bonnet Mysteries  series featuring an Aix lawyer and law professor will be out in a few days, and we heard juicy details of the next one in the works. When we first met, Mary Lou and Ken were living in Aix, but have settled in happily to life in the country – who wouldn’t love this vineyard – surrounded beauty?!

On our way back to Aix we stop at Suffrene, a recommended Bandol vineyard tucked beneath the hilltop village of Le Castellet

to pick up a bottle to bring to our neighbors this evening.

We get back to Aix just in time to climb the stairs to the Oordobadis, with whom we hiked last week. Ali leads us to the table, describing the apertif feast as “Colors of Provence”  – gorgeous, and delicious too!

We’ve been blessed with such wonderful neighbors in Aix – thankful!
Saturday finds us back at the market, picking up all that we need for lunch with friends. Walking under the clock tower, where a mime entertains, we pass through the flower market,

where a table of flower children begins their fun early in the day.

Fresh flowers on the mantel, lunch all ready, we await our guests…

and soon we’re sharing stories  with Jean Marc and Kristin (whose French Word a Day is a favorite of all of us francophiles) and Anne and Aldo.

JM and Kristin brought the most delicious ice cream we’ve EVER tasted for dessert…6 glass pots of pure and intense flavors – passion fruit, pistachio, dark chocolate and more. What a treat!

Thanks, friends,

for traveling from hours away to join us!
Tonight is the first night of Aix’s last festival of the summer, Musique dans la Rue, and Anne and Aldo stay a bit longer to catch the first couple of concerts with us  – first, medieval tunes in the courtyard of the Hôtel de Ville,

then a lively and colorful chorale in the Place de l’Archveché – with an impressive Star Wars rendition.

Each half hour from 6 to 9 pm there are two or three choices in some of Aix’s most beautiful squares, cloisters, and courtyards.
We say goodbye to Anne and Aldo and finish our evening with a Beethoven Quintet in the St. Catherine of Sienna courtyard, a new venue for this year,

followed by a Soirée Ravel by one of the best pianists we’ve heard – glorious music! And all just steps from Ambiance d’Aix!


A Tuneful Weekend in Aix

A Tuneful Weekend in Aix

Aix en Provence, France
Le Weekend, August 25-6, 2012

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Why not join us in Bath, in November, for the Mozartfest?

Just look at those sunflowers – don’t they bring a smile to your face? I can’t resist, and buy an armful for our mantle.

A chef from a nearby resto is selecting quail eggs from our favorite egg lady,

and I pick up some tasty items for an aperitif at our place tonight after one of the Musique dans la Rue concerts.

We stay inside, shutters closed to keep out the heat, during the midday hours, then walk to Place Albertas for the first concert of the evening. The Masterki Quartet entertains us all (including a windowful of residents above) with jazz, swing, and even traditional Russian tunes.

Our friends have saved seats for us near the front for the next performance, Le Concert Impromptu, a terrific wind quintet, in the courtyard of the Maynier d’Oppède, and we enjoy Bach, Reicha (a Czech composer who wrote for this unusual combination, which includes a French horn with the 4 wind instruments) and Bossini – a talented and engaging group that we’d love to hear more of.

These lovely neighbors have been so welcoming since we first bought our Aix apartment – we look forward to spending time with them  each time we return.
We’re awakened in the wee hours of the morning by a bang of the shutters, which we’ve left open to let in as much cool air as possible… the wind has picked up, and it’s getting actually chilly!
And look what’s happened to the sky! The cool air has pushed out any haze, and the sky’s back to that astounding deep blue that stops us in our tracks time and again.

The canicule (heat wave) has passed, and we can take our time outside, strolling through favorite squares – no need to escape the heat any longer.

Kirk puts together an artistic spread for lunch, with goodies leftover from last night’s gathering.

And we pack our bags for a VERY early departure tomorrow, before catching all the music we can, beginning with  L’Orphéon, a wind quintet, at Albertas, then an award-winning accordionist, Mélanie Brégant, on the square at St. Jean de Malte.

Has the sky gotten even BLUER?

On our way back to the apartment, passing through our quiet square (no tables in front of the fountain as there are during the week), we bump into our neighbors who are enjoying the cool afternoon as we are,

and we all decide to walk to beautiful Pavilion Vendome.

One more apertif at their place…

a concert in the square outside,

then just ONE more concert, Mélanie again, with a virtuoso performance of Spanish music in the courtyard of the Hôtel de Ville, before an early night.
Au revoir Aix – we’ll get back as soon as we can!