Saturday, May 21, 2016
Aix en Provence, France
Extravagant? Why? Because there is so much to enjoy in Aix today that we can’t even fit it all in! We begin by meeting friends for coffee at Pain Quotidien, catch up on each other’s news, and make plans to get together in August when we return (can’t wait to see Bénédicte,s latest garden folly – a treehouse!).
Then off we go to troll the markets – we need hats for tomorrow’s garden day. What do you think?Espadrilles, anyone?We pass by Cezannés last dwelling on our way home, noting the tall and wide window of the studio he had built on the top floor – we’d never noticed that before, but recently read about it and looked high to see it for ourselves today.
Later we begin our gallery/museum wander…first the latest expo next door, beside the lovely cloister by the Palais de l’Archevêché. The artist’s scenes of Venice remind us of our stay there earlier this year – could we fit a canvas in our suitcase??
This evening, from 7 until midnight, is Open Museum Night, and from one end of town to another there are special events in the glorious old buildings, all free entry. We begin at the Museum of Old Aix, where a guitarist strums on the grand staircase as we enter. The rooms are filled with treasures of ages past – gorgeous mirrors, exquisite doll houses, tall room dividers with scenes from centuries ago. And the building itself, a former home of an eighteenth century nobleman, remarkable both inside and out.Next stop, the Museum of Tapestries, in the Archbishop’s Palace just beside our apartment. Ascending the grand staircase, we pause in a room lined with fabulous tapestries as an ensemble warbles ancient Jewish tunes.We’ve visited Aix’s main art museum, the Granet, several times, but step inside the crowded courtyard to watch some energetic and emotional modern dance, then stroll through a room or two of art, before walking by the Four Dolphins fountain on the way to Cours Mirabeau.This evening is also the finale of Journées d’Eloquence, Days of Eloquence, literary performances commemorating the Resistance in France. We’ve seen readings in front of the Town Hall near our home, music and dance in an open-air shopping mall, and tonight, on the Cours Mirabeau,as a chorus sings and a narrator speaks, a line-up of actors dressed in World War II period uniforms and clothes help the audience picture what the words express. An officer and staff roll off in the vintage car, flags fluttering, as the program ends.
At the other end of the Cours the full moon peeps above the horizon, and we walk by yet another of Aix’s beautiful fountains on our way to the last event of this extravagant Saturday. The Pavilion Vendome has been taken over by young artists, and one after the other flash their techno creations on the elegant façade as the crowd sits on the grass, oohing and aahing at the sight. A day FILLED with the delights of Aix!