Au Revoir! I’m heading to Europe!
Off to Europe I go for 3 months, with the first month spent in the Provence region of south west France. I’ve been to Europe a few times but it’s always been a quick trip of 2 or 3 weeks; never staying in one place long enough. This time, the plan is to “hang out” a little. Get a real feel for the culture. Learn to speak a bit of French. (I know, I’m kidding myself ) and chat with the locals. After all, the flight from Australia is so darn long I may as well make the most of it, right?
Right! The flights were long, even though we overnighted at the Hyatt in Seoul. Sidonie, my travelling friend caught a heavy cold or something worse a couple of days before our departure. I was a sitting duck. By the time we reached Seoul my nose was dripping like a tap and I was sneezing consistently. By the time we reached Paris I had begun to wonder if they’d be sending me home in a box! That’s how crappy we both felt.
We overnighted at a hotel near the airport in Paris and caught an early flight to Marseille. There we threw our backpacks into the tiny boot of our tiny hire car, turned the air con on high, swallowed another Panadol and headed for the hills. Well, at least in that direction. We stopped in Aix en Provence. 20 minutes up the road 🙂
Aix en Provence
The Public squares and leafy boulevards of Aix (pronounced “x”) en Provence are dotted with small boutiques selling beautiful wares. At the centre of the “old village” is the Cours Mirabeau, a wide and long courtyard-like street lined with fancy restaurants and cafés which attract the fashionable set, sipping overpriced espresso, seeing and being seen.
The fountain at one end of the Cours Mirabeau represents Justice, Fine Arts, and Agriculture which isn’t surprising. Aix was home to the painter Cézanne and also the French writer and political activist Émile Zola. They say it’s a “brainy town” and attracts students from all over to it’s university.
We checked into our modest but cute family-run hotel only minutes walk from the “old centre” , after parking our car (car parks in this city are a rarity), dropped our bags into our room and headed for the Coirs Mirabeau.
It was market day and we had one hour to catch the vibe. Not that we wanted to buy anything. As markets go, this one at Aix en Provence is the biggest and best in the region. We settled for a trip to the pharmacy to stock up on vitamin C and other related products.
We’ll possibly come back to Aix en Provence. It’s a nice city. That’s if we’re not having too much fun elsewhere.
We’ve been in France a week now and have explored many of the little local villages, enjoyed a music festival, a concert in an Abbey, have been searching for lavender fields, and drunk lots of the local rose that the region is famous for. We’re feeling much much better and have almost kicked the dreadful bug we brought with us into touch. (I think it’s the wine that’s cured it.)
Next time I’ll fill you in on our little village. It’s lovely!
Meanwhile here are a few more shots of Aix en Provence.
That was the view from our room