Maybe that’s why the weather broke perfectly today. Stellar skies. A gentle breeze. Temperatures in the high 60s rising toward the upper 70s. It’s also our last day in Aix-en-Provence, our home these last five months.
And so we abandoned the packing, the vacuuming, the final clean-up, and took a last walk through town, stopping for errands along the way.
We bought six Michelin maps for the weeks ahead, two notebooks for interviewing, two small plastic bottles for liquids, a combined knife and corkscrew (it’s purple … we’ve learned a bit about French style).
We bought our last L’Olympique — the big baguette sold by our favorite baker, Benoit Fradette. We admired an elementary art exhibit — dedicated to the earth — that just “opened” on Cours Mirabeau. Then, we stopped to buy cream puffs at Bechard, Aix’s best baker. There weren’t any. So we left — and came back. They did have a $13 cream puff cake. (It’s good we walked a few miles this morning.)
Ten minutes later, we stopped again in Place de L’Hotel-de-Ville, city hall square. There was still time for a coffee. This, after all, is slow lane travel.
There was time to be serenaded by one of Aix’s roving accordion players. Time to watch the kids ride by on their fathers’ shoulders. Time to watch the old folks sitting by the fountain, a stylish couple sauntering toward city hall, the solitary street performer in white standing still, waiting for a tip to spring into motion.
I do. But it’s so much more, too. There are reasons why France has long been known as the country of love, the country of romance. And they stretch far beyond the physical. I’ll try to find the words before I end this blog, to reflect, when I have a bit more time to think. For now I’ll just say that we’ve been remarkably lucky to live in this city of endless scenes and soft sounds, not once, but twice. It has truly become a second home to us.
Maybe that’s why Kathy had to stop in Pavillon Vendome, the park that is our shortcut to the apartment, to say goodbye to the goldfish.