By now, our third stay in the second-floor apartment of the solid house our landlady’s grandfather built early in the last century, Kathy and I feel as much at home here as in Lexington. Perhaps more so.
Life’s cadence in Aix has a simplicity like no other — the 7-minute walk to the boulangerie for our breakfast “tradition,” a baguette made the old-fashioned way; the 30-minute walk through the city’s center to IS-Aix, the language school where my students study; the sweet sounds of the piano through the floor as Martine, a retired music teacher, practices below.
Yet familiar as life here is, each day has its little surprises, too. Last May on our last day, we discovered a brasserie, Le Bouddoir, where the food was good enough that this time we sought it out. It did not disappoint Sunday, as we started our stay with a magret de canard (duck) to die for, with a yummy polenta and two kinds of champignon (mushrooms). Monday we walked into the wind high above ruins of the medieval chateau at Les Baux-de-Provence, with it’s view stretching miles over the rocky Alpilles and farmland beyond.
Today we had what seems like a mandatory trip to le medicin, the doctor. Devon needed medicine for a cold sore. Like most French doctors, this one answered his own phone, wore casual clothes (no white coats) and charged less than $30 — full cost with no insurance. I did the translating, sort of. He wrote a prescription and gave me a facteur, a receipt. But Kathy noticed a small problem. After he’d given us the prescription, he accidentally took it back, wadded it into a ball, and threw it in the trash. Oops. We managed to explain this without creating une crise internationale.
Then we went to the telephone doctor (Apple) with less success. Tomorrow I’ll return to see if my faltering phone needs a new battery. It keeps dying and overheating (no, I’m not going there). Near the tourist bureau, Devon chased bubbles blown by an industrious entrepreneur, hat on ground to defray the cost of the bubbles.
But the highlight of the day came after dinner when Devon was cackling with Kathy. The reason: She reminded Kathy that when they went shopping today, Kathy had addressed the young woman behind the counter not with “bonjour madame” but instead with “bonjour maman.”
Oh dear. They say we return to our childhood as we get older. But I don’t believe we’ve gotten to that point yet.