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!




Ooops in Aix

Ooops in Aix

Friday-Sunday, January 29-31, 2016
Aix en Provence, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to Spring – Prague and Budapest, or Venice and the Veneto – join us!

A flight to Paris, a train ride to the south, a shuttle to Aix, and a walk through its sunny squares,01291601 Aix and then we open the door to Ambiance d’Aix with a smile on our face, so happy to be back. Then I walked into the living room, and exclaimed “oh no!” The hearth beneath the marble mantel was full of rubble, the pretty silver candlesticks all knocked over, and a thick layer of dust spread out over the floor, our tv and stereo, and more…what happened?!? 01291601 Apartment surpriseAs Kirk began gathering the black rocks and sweeping the dust, I opened a letter that had been in our mailbox – a nice note from our new neighbor upstairs, Madame N, whom we have not yet met, who’s having her apartment renovated before moving in and hopes that it won’t affect us too much. She also included her number, so we called, leaving a message to return our call when possible, then continued cleaning, shaking out rugs, pounding dust from the cushions of the couch, reaching far under furniture to gather pieces of chimney and grit. The main thing we’re both thinking is how glad we were it is US that arrived, and not a renter!!
Soon all is back to normal, we fix ourselves a good lunch, then walk around Aix, seeing what’s new – the trees on the squares have been pollarded – 01291601 Aixthen unpack our bags and settle in.
The sun iinvites us out on Saturday, a perfect day to stroll the market squares, the newly trimmed trees throwing skeletal shadows on the golden walls above the vendors tables. 01301601 market skeletonsWith one eye-catching table-full after another, the sellers seem to vie with one another for the most beautiful displays!01301601 market vegAs we fill our bags with goodies for our stay, we peek into favorite places – a Sephora with little angels on the columns, 01301601 sephora peeka gorgeous doorway – 01301601 stop at impressive doorwe never tire of the beauties of Aix!
In the afternoon Madame N calls, apologizing for the mess in our chimney, and promises to have the workmen come by on Monday to ensure that nothing has been damaged.
Later, hearing singing and music outside, we walk to see what’s going on, and watch a torchlight parade snake down the main street of old town, traditional provençal music playing ..pausing in front of the townhall to set off sparklers on their torches. 01301602 called outside by music and murmurs torches into sparklers by town hallThey’re carrying a banner proclaiming “l’identité Aixoise” and we find out later that it’s an organisation for the promotion of provençal culture and heritage. Lots of young people, no rowdies, just appreciating their roots, it seems.
After church on Sunday we stroll through more favorite squares, renewing our acquaintance with the Quatre Dauphins in the Mazarine Quarter. 01311601 sunday strollAnd can you tell which windows are real on this well-maintained façade? 01311601 tricky windows pale grey typicalAix, we’re glad to be back!

There’s  Music in the Streets!

There’s Music in the Streets!

Aix en Provence, France
Friday, August 24, 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?

We’ve been looking forward to this weekend, when the annual Musique dans la Rue begins. After enjoying the terrific free concerts in beautiful Aixoise locations last year, we knew that we’d like to be here every year at this time, if possible.
This morning we walk over to the Thermes Sextius – what drew the Romans here millenia ago, and a still- popular benefit of the town.

The warm springs, discovered in the 1st century before Christ, still flow today, and a snazzy spa is built over the site.  One of the fountains on the Cours Mirabeau is warm too, steaming mysteriously in the winter.

The first concert of the series is at Place Albertas – a fun and engaging combo who had everyone singing along to “When You’re Smiling, When You’re Smiling…” – a great start to the music.

The next one’s in the Mazarine District, the newer
(17th century) part of Aix. We walk by a favorite fountain, the Quatre Dauphins, one our way to the church of Saint Jean de Malte (John of Malta).

Are you lookin’ at me??

Walk down rue Cardinale, and there’s the church, with people already starting to gather to listen to the music on the square outside.

This time, it’s a clarinet quartet, with music from Strauss, Brahms, and Dvorak.




As we stroll home we pass another Nicolas Lavarenne sculpture – this one’s my favorite – a figure balanced and relaxed on a swinging rope – impressive artistry!



One more concert for today, the same jazzy combo, this time in front of the Town Hall. And there’ll be more music tomorrow!