Showing Off Aix

Showing Off Aix

Easter Week 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?

It’s our chance to show off our much-loved city of Aix this week, as we begin another Aix Easter Festival Tour. From markets in bloom to historical collections in the Museum of Old Aix, from favorite squares such as Place Albertas to Mary and saints keeping watch from neighborhood corners, it’s truly a pleasure to share!
Of course the cuisine is a big draw too – I’m excited to introduce my all-time fave dessert,  Café Gourmand, to our guest! And then there are the venues in which we enjoy our meals – the weather is perfect for al fresco dining.
Before our first concert of the tour, in the Grand Theatre, we’re invited to our neighbors for a lavish Aperitif, and a viewing of their exquisite museum-quality collections.As we walk back from the concert the Rotonde gleams a goodnight. Sleep well, tomorrow will be full of more discoveries!

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.

Shopping and Sea

Shopping and Sea

Friday, May 17, 2013 
Delights in the South of 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

The last full day of our Grand Tour of Provence and the Riviera begins in Aix, where it’s time to catch up on shopping, a very easy thing to do with all of the enticing boutiques lining the lanes.  Steve’s lucky friends and family will love their tablecloths and napkins, I’m sure – I certainly do!

In between shops, Kirk shows off some of our favorite squares and sights in the town… such as Place Albertas,

then we hop in the car and head for the coast, and another favorite, the colorful seaside village of Cassis.
Soon we’re heading out to sea for a tour of the beautiful calanques, fjord-like inlets between Marseilles and Cassis,

and beyond the harbor it certainly gets rougher… hold on!

The sea’s much calmer as we enter the cliff-edged cove, the farthest of the three calanques we’ll visit, En Vau.

Turquoise crystal water laps on a tiny beach – a perfect place for a quiet nap on a warmer day….

Then back to charming Cassis

under a bristling fortress,

for a little more retail endeavor,where Steve finds an elegant Provençal souvenir  for almost everyone in the Souleiado boutique. The friendly salesladies are happy to model one scarf after another, and then wrap each one beautifully.

Then back to Aix, leaving some time to pack for tomorrow’s departure before an Apero at our place (thank you, Steve, for that gorgeous scarf I’m wearing – what a wonderful memento of this fabulous week together!)
before a marvelous dinner at Poivre d’Ane on Place de Cardeurs. We choose the Chef’s Inspiration multi- course feast… beginning with a terrine of foie gras and smoked duck breast, garnished with a colorful pansy.
We assured Steve that the portions would be small since there were at least five courses… but, after with the Sea Bass with caramelized turnips (!) and champagne sauce,

and continuing to the tender lamb and spring vegetables,

we’re quickly filling up with delicious- ness.
Of course we do manage to guard room for dessert, and agree that this has been a fine finale to our many wonderful dining experiences of the week.
Before flying out on Saturday, Steve back to the States and we on to Venice for our next tour, we had breakfast in an Aix institution, the Deux Garçons on Cours Mirabeau, where Cezanne and Zola used to hang out in the same Belle Epoque ambiance that remains today.

And Steve was privileged to experience another French institution, the GREVE, or strike, as a raucous group marched through the airport as we were checking in, chanting and singing and flaunting their signs. We asked a few people what the strike was about, but no one knew, and the signs touted ” We strike because in France it is a RIGHT” ….. ok. Thanks for the experience, and au revoir France. We’ll be back as soon as we can!

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!