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Published: November 16th 2019
From Montreux, it is a lovely voyage through the rolling hills, quaint little villages, embraced by the Seine river, and majestic Swiss Alps. There is a castle built in a diagonal line to correspond with the striated rock upon which it is built. Arriving into Aix-en-Provence in the Cote d’azur region (french riviera) we are given bad news at the train station. Because of the storms that have struck southern France, the railway tracks are under construction. We are stuck! No way out other than bus, car, or plane. Will have some decisions to make.
Since Provence is known for their lavender, the accommodation we have booked is called The Lavender Apartment, with walls being painted this same hue. Looking out the living room window, there is a French soldier bearing an automatic weapon, and patrolling the streets. Not sure that brings us comfort.
Early in the day it is a few blocks walk to Le Grand Marche market. There are outside stall after stall of winter jackets and scarves. It is definitely getting colder, and the wind today feels like snow is coming.
Afterwards it is a 35 minute train ride to Marseille which has France’s largest
port. On arriving, first impressions are that it is a gritty big city. We stop at the open door to a shop, and the multitude of smells draw us in. The entire shop is full of amazing World wide spices heaped in open baskets. The array of colours are sumptuous and there are fist-size chunks of salt, plus towers of hand-made soap, and shelves stacked with Moroccan tagine cooking vessels. A place you could spend hours in. Outside there is a fellow on the street with a hat that says Make America Violent Again.
Back in Aix-in-Provence, since this is France, it is necessary to have a crepe. The selections are: sugar, lemon, or Nutella, so I order a sugar/lemon combo. Tastes scrumptious. Shops close from 12 - 2 daily, and restaurants 2 - 6. Better shop and eat while you can.
Chris had his hair cut in Italy. Di bell’aspetto (handsome). After multiple unsuccessful attempts in different countries to acquire an appointment, today I luck out, and so have a French haircut. Very strange to sit and be unable to chat with the hairdresser. She and I smile frequently at each other. Merci! By the way, the
women wear very strong perfume, which permeates everywhere.
The famous impressionist Paul Cezanne was born, and also died in Aix-en-Provence at the age of 67. People can walk in Cezanne’s steps in the city by following brass C stamped studs embedded in the walkways. We follow these for 2 km. up a steep hill, on narrow sidewalks to Atelier Cezanne, the studio of Paul Cezanne, where he lived during the last four years of his life. The studio still contains the artists belongings where they have been since 1902. We quietly view the olive jar that Paul inserted into 22 of his paintings, plus three human skulls that were provided from his friend at the Natural History Museum. The oversized mechanical easel rests beside the patched wall opening where the enormous canvases were lifted into the second floor studio. One famous work ‘The Card Players’ was purchased by the Royal Qatar family in 2011 for $250 million. What a quiet and peaceful spot this must have been years ago to paint, relax, walk, and live.
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