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Summer Fun in Aix

Summer Fun in Aix

July 2017
Provence, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Why not join us on our newest tour in September – Bordeaux and Dordogne

What’s new in Aix? The bell tower of the cathedral is now out of its scaffolding, pristine and gleaming in the summer sun. Under the dust of years, it was never apparent that the crown on top is a paler stone – now it’s clearly obvious!
The market is calling…and the most-photographed stall of all is as eye-poppingly gorgeous as always!We’re here long enough this time that we can create a window box or two, and what fun it is to choose just the right blooms for the bedroom and study windows.A bit of blue, white and red for France’s national day hits the spot!This is the first time we’ve been in town for the Festival d’Aix, and in addition to the operas taking place in several venues (sometimes we can hear the music from the adjacent Archbishop’s Palace Garden) there are musicians involved in the operas and award- winning string quartets playing in the courtyard of a nearby historic building – one evening was filled with Turkish influenced Greek music – unique!Every Sunday night open-air movies are projected in one park or another, and we stroll through the rose garden of Pavilion Vendome, spread out our blanket, and take in a show as night falls.

How about a lunch date in seaside La Ciotat? Kristin, of French Word a Day, discovered a great little place in the center and has reserved a table for us in a pretty square.Corey and Yann, who we’ve visited in Cassis a few times, and Jean-Marc and Kristin meet us there, and we savor one delicious course after another, lots of laughter and fun interspersing each bite. Back in Aix, it’s Open Gallery night, and we walk from one to the other, sipping the wines, sampling the snacks, and appreciating the art – the swaths of aqua ink in this gallery were among my favorites. One morning we bump into a neighbor on the edge of town, and happily accept his invitation for lunch in the seaside town where they’re housesitting. From their hillside abode in Carry-le-Rouet, the views across the water to Marseilles are superb – I can’t take my eyes away!
Change into your suits, we’re instructed….no need to ask us twice! Apero by the pool, lunch on the patio of the lovely home, then hours relaxing in the sun…oh this must be vacation!

 

 

Impossible Blues!

Impossible Blues!

Easter Week 2017
The South of France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Why not join us on our newest tour in September – Bordeaux and Dordogne

It’s the battle of the blues today – between the sky and the sea, it’s a toss-up as to which is the blue-est!
Fisherman are already back from their early morning hunt, and speedily filet their catch for savvy shoppers – get here early for the freshest lunch in town!Before we head out to sea ourselves, we can’t miss the Friday market – one of the prettiest in the region, scarves wafting in the breeze, and more blues vying for our attention. The day couldn’t be better for our sail to three calanques, fjord-like inlets along the coast towards Marseilles. A few hardy souls are sun-bathing and swimming – it’s still a little chilly, in mid-April, for my taste.
But not too chilly to for an al fresco lunch of Moules- Frites (Mussels and Fries) by the port. Cassis, you’ve shown off superbly today!

A Day in the Luberon

A Day in the Luberon

Easter Week 2017
The South of France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Why not join us on our newest tour in September – Bordeaux and Dordogne

We’re sharing some favorite villages of the lush Luberon region north of Aix with our Aix Easter Festival tour guest today. And as she collects artisanal pottery, we’re seeking out more than just fabulous vistas. At the top of the russet-hued village of Roussillon is a tiny boutique specializing in local ceramics – and now Janice has a few choice pieces that will wing their way to her US home! From atop the Castrum we take in the views – the shocks of red clay amidst the dark green of the pines, a lone poppy in the grass,a chateau nestled far below. It’s a perfect day to take in all the colors of Roussillon. In the parking lot below, market stalls cluster among the surrounding colors. Beside the cliffs, scraped in decades past for their ochre pigments, we pause for lunch, then we’re off to our next village, Lourmarin. On the way we pass Bonnieux, tumbling picturesquely down a hillside – it always demands a photo stop!
After zigagging through the Luberon range, we coast down to Lourmarin, with its elegant chateau, and wander through the peaceful lanes for a bit before returning to Aix.
This evening’s concert is in the historic Jeu de Paume, a restored handball court originally constructed for the entertainment of the nobility in the 1700s. Beneath this elegant ceiling we listen to tenor Mauro Peter sing Schumann, Strauss and Liszt, ably accompanied by Helmut Deutsch on the piano, before completing our day with a Moroccan feast at Le Riad – the best tagines in town!  Our waiter effortlessly pours tea from yards above the cups – that takes some practice, I believe!

Provençal Tastes, Sights, and Sounds

Provençal Tastes, Sights, and Sounds

Easter Week 2017
The South of France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Why not join us on our newest tour in September – Bordeaux and Dordogne

Come along for a day filled with provençal delights, beginning with the Wednesday market in St. Remy de Provence…stalls fill the charming squares,their colorful produce enticing – how about Kristin Espinasse’s (of French Word a Day) Tarte à la Tomate with a few of these beauties? 
Palest blue shutters whisper “south of France” on this boutique, one of the many enticing home-goods shops worth a visit.
Sated with sights and smells, we’re ready for lunch at Kirk’s all-time favorite, Bistro du Paradou, down the road towards Le Baux de Provence. It’s Wednesday, and rabbit is today’s main dish, but the meal begins with MY favorite of their first courses – meltingly succulent aubergine, with a side of rich tomato coulis. After the remarkable cheese basket, a meal in itself, we finish with dessert and coffee, then trundle out to the car to make our way to an olive oil mill.
With the hilltop ruins of Le Baux in the distance, we walk through the mistral-tossed olive groves before purchasing a tin or two of some award-winning oil.
Beneath that menacing fortress are the towering rooms hollowed out from bauxite quarries, now the Carrières de Lumiéres – Quarries of Images, a sound and light spectacle that is a highlight of our Provence tours. This year (the spectacle changes yearly) the artists Bosch, Brueghel and Arcimboldo are featured – a more gruesome, at times, focus than we’ve ever seen here. Not one of our favorites – but worth a visit regardless to be surrounded by art and sound – a unique experience.
Senses sated, back to Aix we go – more Provençal delights await us tomorrow!

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!

 

Antiques by the River

Antiques by the River

Easter Week 2017
L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, 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?
Every weekend antiques fill the lanes of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue – it’s the largest antique center in France outside of Paris – but two weekends a year, Easter weekend and around August 15 they burst through adjacent lanes and overflow into the grounds of the city park during the Antiques Fair. Easter Monday is the last day of the spring fair, and we have to take a roundabout way to the parking lot since the route we usually take is filled with booths and blocked off. We’re early enough to find a good spot, though, and soon are in the thick of the treasure filled paths. We wander by a few booths, then stroll into the center, admiring the pretty canals lacing the town. A pause at the historic Cafe de France, surrounded by vintage façades is always a must, along with a stroll past colorful shops adding to the charm of the townsuch an inviting place!
Now for the jam-packed town park – on the lookout for a panther, a bust, or an armoire? A lovely mirror (there we are!) or a pair of nicely weathered shutters? Or some vintage glassware (I would NOT want my fragile goods right in the playground, would you?!)?
There are also several “villages” of antique dealers in the town – a couple of dapper gents have paused for lunch beside one of the branches of the Sorgue. All of this wandering and perusing has us hungry too, so off we go to our favorite riverside haunt, Le Bellevue, to enjoy a delicious lunch. After a little more antiques-browsing we head back to Aix in time for an early evening concert…we’ll tell you about that tomorrow!