A Glorious Final Morning in Aix-en-Provence

Sometimes life teases.IMG_3619

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).

IMG_3623We 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.

“It’s wonderful to know where to go, where to find the best cake,” Kathy said, as we  walked the narrow streets back toward our apartment on Avenue d’Indochine for the last time. “Don’t you think?”IMG_3624

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 IMG_3549to 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.

5 Replies to “A Glorious Final Morning in Aix-en-Provence

  1. I have been reading your blog over the past few months. I enjoy your writing and your beautiful picture galleries. My husband and I live in New Hampshire. We are American citizens who have duel citizenship in Ireland, so we carry an EU Passport. We have traveled extensively and spent lots of vacation time in France. We are both 63 and have decided to retire in April and we will be moving to France. We will begin by renting. We are not sure of the region(We have visited Aix and did love it) We also love the Languedoc/Roussillon region. We plan to take a trip over in November or December to settle on a region and then hopefully settle everything over here and head over next May.
    Where will you travel now? Will you return back to Boston? I wish you Bon Voyage and look forward to hearing from you and also about your continued travels. Denise and Mike

    1. Hi Denise and Mike, This note escaped me for a day or two. Right now we’re in the Ardeche region, gradually heading as far north as Strasbourg and then, gradually, back to Marseille for our flight home in about a month. I’d love to meet you guys in New England sometime this fall if you’re so inclined. We, too, have talked about settling in France at least part of the year in retirement. Let’s keep in touch.

  2. Aix would be a wonderful retirement town. All of those students and artistic outlets are wonderful. We had a young man at our local college who was from Fréjus on the coast. He said people loved to retire there. We were his host family.

    I once lived in Aix as a student. I still have wonderful memories!

    1. It is but expensive. We’re already plotting to spend every winter there when I decide to stop working. Thanks for writing and sharing your memories.

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