Getting to Know the People of Provence

IMG_2576

Our landlady, Martine, is a native of Aix-en-Provence.  Her grandfather built the house in which we’re living in 1936.  So I listened intently during one of our periodic English/French conversations when she told me the real natives of Provence are by nature warm and open. The longer we stay in Aix, the more I realize…

A Taste of Marseille

DSCN0957

There it was, the church atop the hill, the church that overlooks the port of Marseille and dominates the landscape from 500 feet above the harbor.  Only this time we stood directly beneath its tower, looking straight up through the mist at the gilded Mary and Baby Jesus, all nine tons of them. Outside Notre-Dame…

Driving the Gorges du Verdon

IMG_2441

Maybe it was the gathering gray clouds. Or perhaps it was the road, climbing up to 3,300 feet,  rock and scree along the side,  with no railing in places between the pavement and a sheer drop hundreds of feet downward toward the Gorges du Verdon below. Yes, it’s an adrenalin rush. And yes, it’s dramatic. …

A Family Reunion 3,000 Miles from Home

IMG_2594

I grew up in a small family.  My parents were both only children so I have no first cousins. But the lore of the Francks of Berlin, Germany,  the generation of my father’s mother and her four brothers, filled the space of family history. This was a larger-than-life generation, at times volcanic and cantankerous, five…

On the Road to Moustiers Sainte-Marie

IMG_2366

The village of Moustiers Sainte-Marie, built against a rocky hillside near the entrance of Europe’s deepest canyon, the Gorges du Verdon, is slightly less than 60 miles to the northeast of Aix-en-Provence.  Yet this picturesque village, known for its high-end ceramic pottery and its 12th century chapel looking down on it and Lac de Sainte…

I Buy a Straw Hat at the Aix Market

IMG_0113

I’m ready with an answer now when friends ask: “What do you do all day in Aix-en-Provence?” “I go to the market,” I’ll tell them. And I’ve got more to say. “I smell the spices, smell the chickens turning on the spit, inhale the scent of Easter lilies. I listen to the street musicians and the…

Une Petite Pause

IMG_2417

The folks hosting this blog are doing some server updates later today. So I’m going to take a 48-hour break from blogging while my stellar grad assistant in Boston, Jared Bennett, gets things back up to speed. I’ll be back Friday with the first of three parts called On the Road in Northeast Provence. Hope…