Thanksgiving Week, 2017
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.
Time for a quick holiday visit to Paris on our way back from the south of France to the US – and we’re checking out a new-to-us hotel this time. We arrive around noon after a speedy TGV (fast train) trip from Aix, and the Grand Hotel Dechampaigne, red geraniums tumbling from every window of the 16th century former townhome, has a room ready for us – thanks for the early checkin! That red theme continues into our boudoir-like room and spacious bathroom of this excellently located hotel. After 3 plus hours in the train, we’re ready to walk, and take in the Parisian eye candy (this is a metro stop!) on our way to the Grands Magasins (big department stores) whose Christmas windows we’re eager to see. We’re meeting our friends, Ed & Sandy, beside the opera – can’t miss it! And from there to Galeries Lafayette, whose windows this year are themed as a “fairground with a surrealist twist” – hmmm. The tree inside (a candy theme here) is spectacular – worth jostling through the crowds to appreciate!
As in past years, Printemps wins my vote for the best windows, with their playful Magical Journey theme – the Thalys (train from Paris to Brussels) whizzing by in one window, a vintage VW van chugging along in another, Parisian icons gleaming beside. I love this tradition of meeting friends and seeing the holiday lights and sights!
Ed and Sandy want to see the lights along the Champs Elysees too – and we’re game! We all stand in the middle to snap a shot of the shimmering boulevard. Then we just keep walking, and as we head down sparkling Avenue Montaigne the Eiffel Tower across the river begins to twinkle….aah, Paris, you’re ever a sparkling jewel!
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?
Goodbye Paris, from yesterday’s summer sunshine, you’ve returned to Gray Paree, but we’re heading south to the sun!
A quick three hours plus, and we’re back in Aix, with an afternoon full of southern French heritage to enjoy. Each year the local government produces a beautiful book detailing the treasures of the area open for visitors on this special weekend.
We quickly drop our luggage at the apartment and get to Thermes Sextiux, the thermal waters that drew the Roman legions to Aix, where there’s a concert in the gardens.
A flute quartet, their sweet melodies wafting through the gardens and ancient stones,
accompanied by that legendary water,
plays a wonderful welcome back to Aix, our much-loved ville d’eau, ville d’art (town of water, town of art).
Crossing the Cours Mirabeau, where vintage cars round the fountains, chugging up and down the boulevard,
we’re now in the Mazarin Quartier, with its beautiful seventeenth and eighteenth century mansions backed by spacious gardens.We’ll return this evening to see the interior of the Hôtel d’Olivary, and this afternoon will see the garden.
As do all who stroll through this elegant quarter, we’ve snatched glimpses of some gardens through the doors and gates, but this walled garden has stayed hidden until now.
“We are the phantomes de la jardin,” the ghosts of the garden, the gracious ladies introduce themselves. A charming touch…
Some places that are open this weekend are too far to access without a car, but Pavilion de Trimond, east of town, is reachable on foot. Tucked between modern buildings on a main axis out of town, it’s hidden behind a simple garden door. Walk under a long pergola, and through an ivy-twined entry,
and this peaceful oasis awaits.
Built in the beginning of the 18th century for a parliamentary family of Aix (which was the capitol of Provence at the time),
the petite home has kept its accompanying grounds intact, with several pretty fountains,
an old swimming pool (doesn’t look like it’s had much use this summer)
and lots of benches and tables for friends and family to enjoy the greenery. The current owners, chatting with friends,
have kindly opened their home for a few hours on Saturday and Sunday, and even the inside, cozy and lived in, both upstairs or down through the ivy draped entry, is open to view.
Back home to Ambiance d’Aix, our own little piece of French heritage,
where we unpack and eat dinner, then back to the Mazarin Quartier for a candlelight tour of the Hôtel d’Olivary, no photos allowed. Filled with treasures, furniture, ceramics, painting and decor gathered by the family through the centuries, we walk, desperately trying to keep up with the VERY fast-talking young guide. Our French is definitely not up to this!!
We finish our weekend of French heritage in the garden before strolling home through the Sunday-night quiet of the streets.