Aix-en-Provence


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Published: May 12th 2015
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The rain shower this morning was A-MAY-ZING. Bernie dreams of having a walk-in rain shower so, before we came on holiday, I made some enquiries about how much it might cost to convert the standard shower recess in our ensuite into a walk-in rain shower while we were away, as a surprise for Bernie. O-M-G, the quote I was given was ridiculous! Who knew that it would cost around $20,000 to make some changes to the smallest room in the house?! Needless to say, Bernie is going to have to make the most of the rain shower here in Provence for the next three days.

So we really enjoyed our showers this morning and then came downstairs to breakfast. There was already heaps of food on the table and then Anne came through from the kitchen with another tray of food ... which included strawberry tiramisu. Yes, dessert for breakfast - only in France, surely? We needed to keep our fruit intake up so we tackled the strawberry tiramisu first. We followed this up with home made muesli and yoghurt. At this stage Bernie said he was full, but I soldiered on and accounted for a piece of baguette slathered in butter and home made red currant jam ... and then I just couldn't resist the chocolate croissant with my coffee!!

Needing to burn about 20,000 kilojoules we decided to walk into Aix to do some sightseeing. Our first stop was at Saint-Sauveur Cathedral which features architectural styles from the 5th to 17th century. The cloisters were behind a locked gate, but I noticed a sign saying that visitors could take a guided tour of the cloisters and the next tour was due to commence in five minutes. We waited for the man to arrive with the key to unlock the cloisters and we followed him through ... to discover that the commentary would be in French only. Oh well, even if we didn't learn anything about the history of the cloisters at least we did get to see them. The only part of the commentary that we understood was that the four corners of the cloisters were decorated with representations of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

From the cathedral we made our way to the Musée des Tapisseries housed in the state apartments of the former Archbishop's Palace. Consisting of four wings surrounding a courtyard, the Gothic Hall segment dates back to the mediaeval period. In addition to housing tapestries from the 17th and 18th centuries, the museum hosts exhibitions of contemporary art. After buying our tickets we proceeded through the current temporary exhibition. We think the pieces were satirical, but it was hard to be sure because the words were all in French.

We proceeded up the grand staircase to view the tapestry collections consisting of: The Story of Don Quixote (worked between 1735 and 1744), The Russian Games (circa 1769) and The Grotesques (circa 1689). These rooms also contained some interesting pieces of antique furniture and some beautiful crystal chandeliers.

We had to head all the way back to where we started to exit the museum. On our way we decided to visit the toilettes. Oh dear, while we were at the loo the staff all went on their lunch break and LOCKED US IN THE MUSEUM!! Knowing that lunch breaks in Europe can easily run to two hours we were a bit concerned that an extended wait to be let out of the museum would whittle away a considerable amount of sightseeing time.

Hmmmn, extremely reluctant to just sit and wait we decided to see if we could find someone to let us out or ... find a way to let ourselves out. We managed to open the door leading to the staircase and went back upstairs only to find that the rooms up there were locked to. We found our way into an unlocked anteroom and called out 'Hello, hello, is there anybody here?' No answer and no way out! Eventually we found a door with a push bar on it. It looked sort of like an emergency exit so there was some concern that we might set off an alarm, but we tried it anyway. Hallelujah, we were out and no alarms were going off!

After that bit of excitement we walked around to the Hôtel de Ville or Town Hall which was completed in 1670. It features an Italian-style facade with the most amazing solid oak doors with lion's head knockers. Adjacent to the Hôtel de Ville is the old city belfry with its astronomical clock that dates to 1661.

Our next stop was a camera shop to see if we could get some advice on the recurrent error that is occurring with my camera. Damn it, at 1215 the grille was down even though the opening hours stated on the door were 0900 to 1800 ... with no mention of a lunch break.

We decided to grab some lunch nearby so that we could check again in half an hour or so to see if the staff at the camera shop were back from lunch. After spending a bit on sit down lunches for the last few days we purchased a baguette from a bakery today and shared it sitting on the edge of a fountain ... it was only later that I realised that I had eaten lunch with my sunglasses case dangling in the fountain!

We walked back to the camera shop and still the grille was down. The lights were all on in the shop, but there was definitely no-one there. Humph. As it happened we were in the retail area near the Fontaine de la Rotonde and I was feeling quite warm in the pants I was wearing so suggested that if there was going to be more warm weather I should buy some shorts!! There was a H&M store where I managed to pick up a pair of shorts for €19.00.

And so we went back to the camera store ... again ... and still it was closed. We gave up on trying to sort out the lens problem today and went in search of the Musée d'Histoire Naturelle (the Natural History Museum). We walked past a Georgian mansion that Bernie pointed out and then continued along Rue M. Renaud. Still looking for the museum Bernie tried to take us first into the Palais de Justice and then into the Law Courts! Both had security in place and asked the Aussie tourists what they were about!!

Bernie turned the map around, got our bearings and we tried again. As we walked down the side of the Law Courts we decided that something big must've been going down at the Law Courts today because there was a huge police presence. There must have been at least a couple of dozen police vehicles and even more police personnel. And so we completed a block and eventually decided that the Georgian mansion is the home of the Natural History Museum BUT ... it must be closed on Mondays!!

It was quite warm and the swimming pool at the B&B was seeming much more tempting than the narrow, hot and dusty streets of the Aix city centre. As we started heading back to the B&B I spotted a rack of linen pants. Hmmn, maybe I need a pair of linen pants as well as a pair of shorts??! I tried on the pants and a couple of dresses while we chatted to the proprietors. It turned out that one of them worked in Australia for two years in Brian Rochford's stores in Adelaide, Cairns, Melbourne and Sydney. I bought the pants and we left the store with a bonus beer (Heineken) for Bernie and a bottle of water for me. It must have been the Aussie connection.

On our way back to the B&B we picked up a few supplies at one of the convenience stores; we just haven't been able to find the supermarket here in Aix. By the time we walked back to the B&B we were well and truly warm enough to make good use of the pool. We spent a very relaxing hour or so in and by the pool reading our books. Damn it's hard being on holidays.

We drove back into Aix for dinner and pigged out again. List in hand, we ate at one of the recommended restaurants tonight. Bernie had a lamb shank. I'm not sure if I should say what I had because I think there are some people reading the travel blog who may be upset. Let me just say that I had a casserole made from meat that is a lot like chicken, but isn't a bird.

Steps for the day 18,114 (12.34 kms)


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Photos: 12, Displayed: 12


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13th May 2015

Aches in Aix??!!
Thank God you didn't eat Stephen! Hope it wasn't Wendy! Now here's a thought - you might be the unwitting stars of the next "Night in the Museum 3" ???? You do get to do some amazing things, even if they are totally unplanned. Ciao. Caroline
14th May 2015

Its not a bird
Promise, I will not be offended, what was in your casserole, my guess is goat?
14th May 2015

Il était lapin
Did you study any French in high school? Just in case you didn't ... it was a🐇.
16th May 2015

nostalgic journey
I am enjoying catching up with your blog and drooling over the lovely images too. Some of my favourite parts of the world. Phil and I loved our one week stay in Aix back in 2012 and also a week in Arles so we had plenty of time to explore those superb areas. In fact I could swear some of the photos displayed were ours! I was walking along with you through those streets and past those fountains and structures, imagining it all over again. We stayed in an apartment very close to the city centre with a supermarket one minute away. I loved walking through the narrow old city streets, but also enjoyed the modern aspects of the city too, especially the stunning street sculptures displayed at that time. Sadly travel does have its stressful moments but the enjoyment of new experiences outweighs the frustrations. Unfortunately there are times when it can colour our view of places we have visited over the years! I feel for non english speaking visitors trying to work out how to pay tolls or travel on our public transport system, such a minefield! Keep enjoying the good times! love Janet x
16th May 2015

Your own departure date is getting close ...
are you all prepared for your own trip with Jill? We are about half way through our eight week holiday so that must mean that you and Jill are due to start your own adventure in a little over four weeks time. I bet you are getting excited. I can't remember how long you are going to be away, but guess that you will be o/s until about the end of July?? We won't have seen each other for months and will have so much to catch up on when we do. Love, Tracey.

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