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Performances and Picnics in Aix

Performances and Picnics in 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?

Yesterday we came back from L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue in time for an evening of organ and string quartet in the peaceful elegance of St. Jean de Malte, in the Mazarine District. On the way back to our apartment we detoured, drawn to Place Richelme by the strains of Mozart….and found a “You’re the Maestro” event – as the Knights, a talented group from New York City, played the overture of The Marriage of Figaro. As we watched, a gentleman of a certain age masterfully took charge, then a lady waved her dog’s paw to conduct, a lively young man jumped around on the podium as he took his turn, and from a window high above a mademoiselle aerobatically conducted as the orchestra turned to face her. What fun – you never can tell what will happen on the streets and squares of Aix!
Today we’re shopping for a picnic in the garden…some hearty prosciutto here, fruit there, popped into our market basket to enjoy by the blooms in Pavilion de Vendome. More music awaits us tonight – but first, an Aperitif Dinatoire (that means enough finger food to make a dinner!) at our home.We’re delighted with this evening’s performance – entitled Brothers and Sisters. Four groups of siblings, in a variety of combinations, entertain us with Schumann, Brahms, Franck, and a world premier of Thierry Escaich’s String Sextet – the composer taking a bow after the musicians at the end. And the finale to this evening? A streetside crepe filled with nutella – yum!

 

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!

 

 

 

Down to the Sea in Ships

Down to the Sea in Ships

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to summer – join us on the fabulous Amalfi Coast in July?

It’s Thursday, and the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville is overflowing with flowers…ours really do need refreshing, so I picked up these beauties before we headed south to the sea.04091501 am flowers refreshedA perfect little craft is ready to head out, and we’re soon all aboard, leaving Cassis harbor, passing a string of mini sailors learning the ropes.04091501 Cassis sailingOut to sea, turn right, and there’s the first calanque, those intriguing slivers of turquoise water cutting into the coast between Cassis and Marseilles. 04091501 perfect dayWe sneak in for a peek, then head back out to sea, 04091501 Cassis sea from calanqueturning right to the next one. The prettiest of all, with a tiny beach accessible only by boat or on foot, a few hearty souls are grabbing some springtime sun. 04091501 tiny beachThe captain offers Kirk the wheel for a bit – I think he handles it well!04091502 at the wheelThen he pilots us back into colorful Cassis,04091502 back to portjust in time for lunch-with-a-view at Nino’s.04091502 ninos

We check out a few colorful boutiques, 04091503 boutiquesthen head back to Aix. We’ve got a couple of hours before the evening concert, so Kirk continues painting the bathroom (soon it’ll be ready to show off!) and I climb a ladder to clean our 9 feet off the floor windows – yes, it’s spring cleaning time!04091503 spring cleaning ladder neededSpruced up again, we’re off to  St. Jean de Malte in the Mazarin area of Aix, 04091503 st jean de malte concertwhere Cafe Zimmerman presents an evening of Bach cantatas…..04091504 bachthe words of one are especially appropriate: “I have enough – I am content”, reminding us of how privileged we are to enjoy life in wonderful Aix with each other, and to share its beauties with so many Music and Markets guests!

 

 

Traditions in Aix

Traditions in Aix

Holidays in France, 2013
 
Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  We’re looking ahead to Spring – May in Venice, Barcelona, or Prague, and our newest  – Aix en Provence for the Easter Festival.

Today we visited Aix’s second largest church, Saint Jean de Malte, to see the nativity scene.

Dozens of foot tall “Santons” dressed (in the style of 150 years ago, when the Santon tradition began and when these were made) to show their occupation

gather from all over Provence to visit the barn where Jesus was born.

In the chapel next to the nativity scene, we were startled to see three large bronze bells on display. The church steeple has been ringing only one of its four bells since 1793 when Napoleon commandeered the other three to make cannons for an assault on Toulon. Recently the town of Toulon gave some of the cannon captured in the battle to Aix to melt down and re-form into bells. One bell, named Jeanne was paid for by the candy makers of Aix who specialize in the famous Calissons d’Aix. Jeanne is decorated with a band of the little football shaped almond and honey delicacies around the top and bottom of the bell. The inscription notes that the bell was cast in 2013 during the pontificate of François and that Jeanne “sings the delicious wisdom of God”