This morning, as we said au revoir to the stunning Côte d’Azur I heard many voices promising to return! In spite of this past week’s unforgettable experiences, there is still so much to see and do. In our comfortable private coach we made our way down the Promenade des Anglais, taking along a wealth of fine memories.
Our first stop for part of the day was Aix-en-Provence. Steeped in history, this has been an important crossroads since the 3rd Century BC. Our drive on the busy motorway carried us past the majestic Mont Sainte-Victoire which was painted by Cézanne more than eighty times. Paul Cézanne is regarded as the most famous son of Aix, where he was born and died, and his work is celebrated there now although this was not always the case. He’s described by both Picasso and Matisse as “the father of us all”.
It was a market day in Aix (pronounced simply “ex”), with colourful vendors in stalls up and down the Cours Mirabeau selling all manner of products. Free time offered everyone plenty of opportunities to explore.
There was also time to enjoy lunch before meeting up for our walking tour. Even the tour leaders took a break in the heart of the old town!
I love the wrought iron bell towers of Provence that allow the worst Mistral to blow right through!
Famous for its fountains, universities, and support of the arts, Aix is an interesting town in which to spend some time. It’s an excellent half-way stop on the way from the coast to the countryside of Provence.
In the afternoon we met our guide for a walking tour “In the Footsteps of Cezanne”. It was comprehensive and well worth the time.
Les Deux Garçons began serving meals in 1792 and was a popular dining spot of Cézanne’s. It may not be the finest place for gourmet meals in town, but definitely is worth a stop for an apéro or a coffee to appreciate the historic ambiance.
After a most satisfying afternoon, our merry group continued on to our home for the next week ~ enchanting ancient Arles. Our celebratory rooftop welcome at Hôtel Le Clôitre set the tone for the remainder of our stay. Get the idea?
There was time to rest and be ready to … yes … feast again, at dinner under the stars on the hotel’s ground level terrace. Our tapas meal was delicious and the beginning of a new adventure in this part of the Bouches-du-Rhône region.
A highlight was the surprise visit by a local musician who entertained everyone with his soul-searing renditions of Gipsy Kings songs. The original Gipsy Kings’ families are from the area around Arles and their fusion of flamenco, salsa, and pop became synonymous with the region.
An additional surprise was a parade later in the evening, celebrating the rice harvest of the Camargue. Yes, we even for cheered tractors!
This was what you might call an extremely full day! Even so, some of the group still found time for a late night libation. The excellent location of our hotel meant it was a stroll of only a few minutes to finally fall into bed.
Be sure to visit the website of my friend and tour co-leader, Deborah Bine aka Barefoot Blogger where you will find all sorts of great articles on more places in France than you can imagine. I’m telling you … that lady gets around! Click right here!