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!



Sunrise and Seaside in the South of France

Sunrise and Seaside in the South of France

Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Aix & Cassis, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to Spring – how about the Prague Spring Festival in May?

In addition to working on our bathroom renovations (Eager for the big reveal?? So are we!) we’re researching a private tour for photographers, and high on our list are sunrises and sunsets! So we’re up early, ready to climb the hill north of town to one of Cezanne’s favorite perches, with superb views of his much-loved Mt. Saint Victoire. Rosy color paints the horizon,02181501 am mt st vand birds twitter around copies of Cezanne’s masterworks, painted from this very spot.02181501 am terrain de peintresHere comes the sun, little darling! 02181501 here comes the sun little darlinBack home for coffee, then we’re on our way back to Cassis. Although the boat-rental stand’s posted hours are 9:30-4:30, they were long gone by the time we arrived (well before 4:30!) yesterday, not expecting any customers on a winter day, so here we are again…and can easily get all the information we need from the helpful ladies in the kiosk.
Of course it’s never a hardship to visit this adorable seaside town, and we’re early enough today to see what the fishermen have snagged…a monkfish and an eel here,02181502 cassis fishermena prickly pile of sea urchins there. 02181502 cassis sea urchinsAnd to make our visit even better, it’s market day! An operatic duo entertains shoppers (I saw these two ladies singing at the Aix market yesterday – they get around!) 02181502 n even better its market day video too heard yesterday at Aix marketAs always, we’re enticed by the scents, sights and sounds of a bustling market – olives here,02181502 olives tapenadeseggs and goat cheese there,02181503 eggs and goat cheesea busy repairman plying his trade.02181502 repairHere’s a good language lesson – can you tell me what Apres and Avant mean?02181502 theres a good french lessonWe usually spend our time strolling the colorful harbor here, but the streets, too, are full of beauty…a faded facade,02181502 more than a port pretty village too old facadescolorful trim,02181503 seaside colorsa terrace lush with orange and lemon bushes. 02181503 sea view terraceContinuing to hunt out views for our photographers, we climb (by car) high above the town to Chapelle St. Croix, a sweet quiet spot 02181503 seeking photographers views above village chapel saint croixwith a lovely vista of the coast. 02181503 seeking photographers viewsOne more stop before we turn in the car…we’ll spend the rest of our time here on foot. Years ago we stayed at the elegant Hotel Pigonnet, and remembered their gardens, with a spot from which Cezanne is said to have painted. 02181503 stop by pigonnet gardensEven in winter the manicured expanse is lovely…we well recall sitting by the pool, strolling through the boxwood parterres – isn’t it beautiful? Just one more Aixoise treasure….there are so many!


Winter Seaside Pleasures

Winter Seaside Pleasures

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Seaside South of France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to Spring – how about the Prague Spring Festival in May?

I just can’t resist the markets…have to stroll through even if I don’t plan to buy anything! On Tuesdays the clothes and household goods line Cours Mirabeau – and oh what a difference from the bright colors of summer02171501 am market link to summer market post – remember THIS market stroll in August?08171401 baskets on cours sunday

In between searching out items for the new bathroom and kitchen, we make it to seaside Cassis, where the colors are as vivid as ever.02171501 Cassis portBack in Virginia it’s snowing again, but here in the south of France it’s still dine-al-fresco weather,02171502 Cafe Cassis

and any time of year is good for a boules game.02171502 Cassis BoulesEnjoying the sunshine, we walk out to the lighthouse – have we ever done this before?02171501 Cassis We don’t think so…we usually spy it from the sea as we head out with our Music and Markets guests to see the fjord-like Calanques in between Cassis and Marseilles.
To the east of town, ruddy Cap Canaille (cinnamon) glows over the water. 02171501 Cassis Cap CanailleTilting our faces to the sun, we soak it in, enjoying every minute.


Celebrating in Cassis

Celebrating in Cassis

September 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

After our weekend full of visiting several French treasures, from Paris to Aix, today the kitchen work begins in earnest. We grab a minute to snap a photo of the market on our way to meet with a cuisiniste  – a kitchen specialist – to talk about what we’d like.

We began the process in August, meeting with three different possible contractors, and hope to get enough information to make our decision this week.
Some of our research requires a car, so we’ve reserved the best deal available from Hertz, and are happily surprised that our Fiat 500 comes with a roll-top! I consider it a perfect birthday gift – merci, Hertz!

Top down on Tuesday, my birthday, we head for our favorite seaside spot nearby, Cassis. Lunch is a Michelin-starred treat (we’ve certainly enjoyed more of those than usual lately, such as our delicious lunch at Hôtel les Lodges Sainte Victoire last month) at Villa Madie, perched above the Mediterranean.

The meal, on the breezy terrace, is as delicious as expected, and my birthday dessert, a fig tart, is the perfect finale.

A stroll around the charming old town,

and the colorful port keep us smiling –

Cassis is a celebration all by itself!


By the Sea, By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sea

By the Sea, By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sea

Thursday, April 24, 2014
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

As we were pulling into Aix after our Wednesday adventures the phone rang…and we received a special invitation that would require a schedule change today. Would we like to come to a private rehearsal with Martha Argerich and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe? The entire carload voted YES so we shifted our morning plans to the afternoon in order to attend.
That left us with a few hours in the morning before the rehearsal, and since Thursday just happens to be one of Aix’s full-blown market days, why not take another look? 

Our flowers need replacing, and Ruth gifts us with some lovely peonies,

Aren’t they gorgeous on the mantel?

Our neighbors wanted to come to the rehearsal too, so we added a couple of names to the invite list and met at the Grand Theatre for an exciting hour of music – Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto.

Rehearsals are so interesting – much more intimate than a concert. We all enjoyed this treat, then quickly changed, and hopped into the car to head for the Mediterranean.
Destination? Our favorite close-to-Aix seaside village, Cassis.

Arriving in time for the next boat to the Calanques, we’re quickly on our way, out of the port and beyond the lighthouse,

and soon slipping into one of the crystal clear slips of water cutting into the shore… the Calanques of Cassis.

When we first visited, nearly twenty years ago, the boats were allowed to drop us off at one of the calanques and we scrambled along the cliffs to the tiny beach. Now the only way to arrive is by a strenuous hike, or a private boat.

It’s just a perfect day to be on the water – the colors are breathtaking! On the east side of Cassis, Cap Canaille strides impressively into the sea.

Back on land, Jill treats us to a yummy ice cream,

and we stroll the lanes and plazas,

taking in the colors of this cheerful port – it’s always such a pleasure to visit!

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!