A Travellerspoint blog

September 2019

AIX-EN-PROVENCE

AN INTERESTING PICTURE OF FRENCH CULTURE

sunny 29 °C

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After an easy 3-hour train ride, we arrived in the birthplace of Paul Cezanne, Aix-en-Provence. I thought I might enjoy seeing the countryside but it seems I sleep on trains as I do on planes. I wasn’t much company for my travel companion.

We arrived at our hotel, the Aquabella in the old city of Aix, which turned out to be an excellent choice. Rooms are expensive in the south of France but at least this one came with access to their spa. The spa is built above the original Roman baths and there is a window where you can see the ruins. We had access to the hot tub, the hamman ( wet Turkish-style sauna with eucalyptus oil), the dry sauna, the shower “experience”, which had various pressures and singing birds, and the hot and cold showers. This, in addition to the beautiful pool (next to one of the city's old walls), filled a few hours of both our days. Sigh.

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After checking in, we went for lunch. A very looonnng lunch which it seems is normal here. People sit for hours at lunch time, service is slow and no one seems to care. They probably care slightly less about you if you are not French. So, we, two unlikely candidates, have learned to relax and chill out these past few days…..let’s see if that mood can hold through next week’s meetings.

We walked around and I was completely shocked at the number of stores filling the old city streets. I later learned that Aix is another shopping destination and a student town so the demand exists. Still the architecture is beautiful and the clothes is amazing….oh to be able to pull it off. We window shopped.

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The roof lines were my favourite.

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In the evening the square, just minutes from our hotel was alive with people. We enjoyed an amazing dinner. Lyn had shrimp risotto and I was most proud that she didn’t get creeped out by the heads. I had duck Rossini. Very good. Still the food is predominately Italian.

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Saturday morning, we went to the morning markets. This was really incredible. These markets happen every day and explain the lack of grocery stores. Every street was covered with fresh produce, flowers, herbs, cheese, meat and anything else you can think of, including clothes.

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There were several musicians playing around the old town too. We watched these two play for a quite a while. They were amazing.

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This girl was either their biggest fan or totally in love.

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This Dixie band was pretty entertaining too.

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We wandered around a bit more. Visited the huge, Saint Sauveur Cathedral.

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Stopped to say hi to Paul Cezanne.

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Then had another long lunch before retreating to the pool and the spa for a few hours.

Aix has been an interesting stop. Not what I expected but totally worth the visit. Interesting to see the lifestyle….access to fresh food, wine with every meal and patience galore for everything except the tourists

Alas, this ends another great holiday and tomorrow we fly to Brest for a week of meetings.

Posted by curlygirl 14:25 Archived in France Tagged en aix provence Comments (0)

NICE

WITH SIDES TRIPS TO MONACO, MONTE CARLO, VILLEFRANCE SUR MER AND EZE

sunny 29 °C

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With a meeting in the north of France, it simply made sense to do a Shelley special and add on a few days of holidays. The south of France has been on the list for a while and since Marseille offered a direct flight to Brest, it was simple. Even better was, my friend Lyn would be attending the same meeting and I was pretty sure she would be up for adventure. It is not often I get to travel with women.

We arrived in Nice mid-day on Tuesday and it was pouring rain. It was too rainy to go out so we opted for coffee, lunch, a little shop at the adorable baby store just across from the hotel and a nap. Around dinner time the rain stopped leaving some incredible light and skies so we wandered around the waterfront and had an excellent seafood dinner by the sea.

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Wednesday was a beautiful 29 degrees and sunshine. We took the train to Monaco/MonteCarlo. This was a trip we debated because we had heard there wasn’t much to see but we really enjoyed it. Very interesting to see this little country (2km by 2km) full of richness, with no apparent industry other than fishing and tourism, thriving. There was certainly lots of money on the endless yachts in the harbours.

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From Monaco we took the train back to Villefranche-sur-mer which was so beautiful. We sat on the beach, ate salad with amazing cheese and wandered the hills and alleyways. Totally chill and beautiful.

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The next day we took a tram and bus to Eze Village. Google tells me Eze is a medieval village perched like an eagle's nest on a narrow rocky peak overlooking the Mediterranean sea. It is quaint, cute and tiny but we were happy to leave because it is packed with tourists.

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We returned to Nice to walk the beach and side streets which are rich with colours and characters. It is a really beautiful city. It really is a shopping haven and we what asked what we should do, we were told, shop. I am not sure we entered a single store besides the baby shop.

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We came back to the hotel for a swim and sauna before another Italian feast. The Italians were here til 1860 and the food remains. We found it quite difficult to find a French restaurant so enjoyed the huge Italian portions.

It was a really lovely and relaxing three days.

Posted by curlygirl 13:28 Archived in France Tagged nice monaco eze Comments (0)

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