Friends and Family in Aix en Provence

Friends and Family in Aix en Provence

Thanksgiving 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 Spring – Aix en Provence for the Easter Festival.

What’s first on the Aix to-do list when we arrive? Flowers, of course! And what a glorious morning we have for our first market foray! The usual produce, flowers, clothes and textiles fill stalls, and the annual Santon Fair is set up beyond the grand Rotonde fountain at the end of Cours Mirabeau – every imaginable figure for your creche scene.Most of the week we’re walking around familiar lanes, but for a couple of days we rent a car to see friends further afield. After a near-freezing morning, we’re off to La Ciotat, where we’re surprised to see hardy souls braving the water – from stand-up paddlers beyond the waves, to swimmers and sunbathers. Our friends Jean-Marc and Kristin (author of one of our favorite blogs, French Word a Day) have recently moved here from a few miles away, and after that chilly start to the day, it’s turned out to be perfect for a garden lunch. Kirk channels Van Gogh in one of Kristin’s hats, and we while away the hours together in the sunshine.After stopping for some big box store supplies outside of Aix while we have the car, we take a side road home and pull off to take in a glorious sunset.One more day with a car, and we’ve invited new friends Jim and Brenda to see more of the area – the lush and varied Luberon north of Aix calls us today, beginning with ochre-toned Roussillon, always a favorite.Rewinding south towards Bonnieux, we pause at Pont Julien, a hearty Roman relic that survived when new bridges perished in floods over the centuries.
Just down the road is bonnie Bonnieux, where we pause for a look across the rooftops and the lower church – to the valley beyond. A few elegant doorways from centuries ago attest to the former wealth of the village, popular again since Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence. Pulling away towards Lourmarin, we’re grabbed with the sight of the village tumbling down its hill, framed in glorious autumn colors – wow!Between Bonnieux and Lourmarin we stop for a half kilometer hike down a path beside an old mill trace to a stone bridge built by the pre-Luther Protestants called Vaudois. They left Italy where they were known as Waldensians and where they developed considerable skill as stone masons. This low, short bridge over the insignificant Aigue Brun stream has as an anchor on the right, a stone concave fan. Those Vaudois cut and laid those stones with such skill that the bridge still stands after about 500 years.
Last stop, chic Lourmarin, with its eye-catching chateau. The guys pause for a coffee while Brenda and I peek in the shops.
Mt. St. Victoire greets us in the sunset as we approach Aix, where a surprise awaits us. Our friend Xavier told us to call him when we got back since he had something to bring us. He’s a collector of contemporary art, but has saved for us a piece from his parent’s estate that he gave to them years ago – of a place he knows we enjoy. Venice! We’ve been looking for something for this corner – how nice to have a piece with a personal connection!
Friends and family make life so delightful….the family arrives tomorrow!

 

 

 

Icy Fountains and Friends in Aix

Icy Fountains and Friends in Aix

Week of  January 16-22, 2017
Aix en Provence and Paris, 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.

When we were last in Aix in November, we left it all prepared for major painting, needed due to the damages suffered when our upstairs neighbor’s renovations caused a flood in our apartment in April. It took that long for the ancient walls to dry out enough to repair, and for the insurance company to decide on what to do. So we’re eager to see our good-as-new living room and study, and even though it’s after midnight when we finally walk in the door on Sunday night (Monday morning!) we walk around and take it all in, delighted with the result. The damage was mostly high up on the 12 foot ceilings, so was not immediately visible to anyone but us, so it’s hard to show the difference here – the entire rooms were painted. We can’t go to bed, late as it is, without putting a few things back where they belong, the antique trumeau (mirror with a painting) above the fireplace, the furniture where it’s supposed to be, a painting or two on the walls – but the rest can wait til tomorrow.
After sleeping late the next morning in our cozy warm home, we quickly eat breakfast and return to the beautiful lanes and squares of Aix, where the temps have not yet risen to freezing – not a common occurrence here! On Cours Mirabeau the water flows from one side of the Neuf Canons fountain, and remains frozen on the other. Winter seems to be a popular time for filming in Aix – perhaps because there are not crowds of day-trippers as in the warmer months. By the Palais de Justice a 70s crime show is in process – see the vintage police van and uniforms? And an episode of another series is filming on beautiful Place de Trois Ormeaux.
When we stroll by later at night all is calm once again…with Christmas lights still gleaming.
Good friends will join us for lunch, so out to the market I go early on Tuesday…but it’s so cold that all the flowers and produce are covered up! No wonder – they need protection on this 20 degree morning!
I return after a morning meeting with the painter, and find the market bursting with its usual rainbow of color.Jean-Marc and Kristi arrive with a decadent dessert and a prime rosé from their first official harvest at Mas de Brun – thanks to Kristi for these great photos! She also wrote about our time together on her lovely blog French Word a Day.
As the days pass, the market’s affected by the chill – very few vendors at our daily market on Place Richelme – the olive oil is solid rather than liquid, and  iced cherubs shiver on the Rotonde Fountain.
And we walk and walk, day and night, taking in the beauty of Aix – glorious whatever the weather!

Summer Days in Aix en Provence

Summer Days in Aix en 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

We’ve had a few quiet days, no concerts in the nearby square, just time with friends, Sunday morning church, work, market strolls…life in the south of France.
After church on Sunday Kirk returned to work – his office is set up in the study/second bedroom and oh is he using it this trip (as I write I’m listening to him talking on a conference call)!
Before coming home to make lunch I walked through the monthly brocante (vintage) market on Place des Prêcheurs….not to buy, just to look…at linens rippling in the breeze,

copper polished to a ruddy shine,

lots of art and books, and even an accordion offered by the relaxed vendors.

Monday morning, time to shop for dinner with friends tonight…would you believe I went to all three Monoprix grocery stores in town, several stalls at the daily market, Picard (the frozen food emporium) and the bakery?! Tried to get everything done as early as possible – today threatens to be the hottest day of the entire summer! The lions on the Rotonde fountain seem to enjoy basking in the sun.

and just across the street is the finally-finished Apple store, with requisite line out front. Looks much like the one in Reston Town Center, back in Virginia!

Xavier and Michelle are our guests tonight, and although it’s still 90 outside, we keep comfortably cool in our 18th century home – the thick walls (and a good fan or two circulating the air) do a good  job of insulation, unlike more recent construction.
Xavier, a good friend who owns, renovates, and maintains a couple of apartment buildings in the historic center, has been such a great help from the very beginning of our Aix home ownership. We’re thankful to finally have the opportunity to renovate the kitchen and bathroom so in between dinner and dessert we look at the rooms together. Tomorrow we have appointments with two contractors, and Michelle knows another whom we’ll also have come view the projects while we’re here. We’ve got the kitchen figured out, but the bathroom is a mystery….WHY was it designed and built in two levels? We’d like it all on one level – is that possible?

Kirk and Xavier pull out the measuring tape and measure inside and out, peering out the windows to see what’s what, and we remember that one of the huge old keys we were given when we bought the house opens a door on the common stairway that is “ours” and used to be a communal washroom/laundry. Maybe there will be a clue to why the bathroom’s designed this way….but they get the door open and it’s now all bricked up inside. Another mystery!

Tuesday’s a major market day in Aix, and although we don’t need a thing (lots of good leftovers from last night’s feast!), we have to at least walk through – it’s always a delight of sights, with a rainbow of colors  – light cotton Morroccan Foutas that can be used as beachtowels, shawls, tablecoverings, throws,

flavors – tender, smoky sundried tomatoes – so much better than what I find in the US

and smells – lavender crafted into pillows, dolls, and sachets

And we end up with a new rug for the bathroom – a deal at 5 €!
There are many lanes that get us to and from the markets, but we always like to walk by one of our favorite spots, Place de Trois Ormeaux, where the rosé’s always chilling in the summer,

and at the moment an adorable toddler’s chilling too.
Happy in Aix….