Europe | France | Rhone Valley and Provence | Aix En Provence – Aix-En-Provence
Tuesday night we returned to Lille for a group dinner at the house. Every Tuesday a group gathers and they take turns cooking the main course and telling stories. Tonight the group was Mary Helen, Marie Paule, Geetu, Ben, Amelie Villez (from Lille), Abel (from Mexico City), and myself. It was interesting listing to the conversation flow from French to Spanish to English and back to French again.
Mary Helen and I did some web surfing, and off the SNCF train webpage, we found a bargain page offering up to 50% off. So instead of traveling to Bordeaux next, as we had planned, we took the incredibly discounted train, in first class, to Aix En Provence.
Aix-En-Provence (or Aix En Provence) is in the South of France. It was at one time the home to Cézanne, and you can’t miss it while walking around town. There are brass markers in the ground of everywhere Cézanne went. Everywhere. After a while, one might start to suspect there is a brass marker for ever footstep he took in town.
The other thing Aix-En-Provence is known for are the fountains. It seems like you find a new one every time you turn a corner. There are huge ones in the middle of round-abouts, and tiny ones on the corner edge of a building. There is even a steaming one near the restaurant district where moss grows all year.
We wandered through the lovely town, lovely but mostly uphill, till we found the hotel Mary selected from the guidebook. On the way, we saw a sign advertising the Huissier de Justice (Hussy of Justice?). I had to laugh at the thought that the Lady of Justice is a Hussy. Funny how things translate. We found out later that this is more or less what we’d call repo men, process servers, tipstaffs, bailiffs and bounty hunters. Their main tasks are to serve process, serve judgments, and repossess your furniture to satisfy judgments. Hussies!
We did make it all the way up to Cézannes house, and his studio. He created a slot in the outside wall of his studio to fit his canvases through – almost 15 feet tall! There was a sigh in the hall that you were not to take your camera or video camera into the studio. And there were two people who sat at a table acting sort of like staff, but they didn’t stop anyone from taking photographs. So we followed the letter of the law, we took our photo from the hallway looking into the studio.
After Mass, we went to dinner at a restaurant in the main part of town. We both ordered the pork loin with lavender mashed potatoes. When the course was served, there was a sprig of lavender in the mashed potatoes which the server lit! So we ended up eating ashen lavender bits in our mashed potatoes, not exactly what we expected.
The French are crazy about their dogs. At dinner, I ended up sitting next to a very observant schnauzer. I felt like I should have been having a conversation with him, as close to me as he was with those big eyes watching me.
The evening closed with walking through the old streets back to the hotel, so we could prepare ourselves for a very long train ride tomorrow.
Visit Mary Helen’s page on Aix-En-Provence at: http://www.worldsurface.com/browse/live-diary-page.asp?livediarypageid=1447