Saturday, September 30, 2006

Heaven on Earth

Here it is. Just a little outside of downtown Aix, this is where we stayed for our two final days in France. I wanted Wyatt to be able to swim & chill out before getting on the plane back to the States, and this was perfect. We swam, read, stretched out, and ate & drank poolside. And having Champagne and frites al fresco is another kind of heaven!
Terry joined us one afternoon to kick back, and we also met some really nice people with whom we had a lot of laughs & good conversation.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Year of Cezanne, or, Christ, get me out of here.

Did you know it was the Year of Cezanne? Yes. Paul Cezanne was an Aixois.
The official word:
"2006 has been officially declared as the 'Year of Cezanne' reminding us that it is the hundredth anniversary of the great painter’s death, in 1906. A number of celebrations honoring the artist are planned around the world such as a Cezanne show in Washington DC from January to May. But if you are an admirer of Cezanne… you must come to Aix-en-Provence and follow his footsteps amidst the Provençal landscapes he loved and celebrated all his life.
The Museum of Fine Arts in Aix will hold its Cezanne exhibition from June 9 to September 17, 2006 and over 100 major works will be displayed, on loan from museums all around the world (80 oil paintings and 30 water colors)."

Having once again left Paris without stopping at the Louvre (gasp), my art-guilt really kicked in once I got to Aix and I knew that it was Cezanne or Bust. I could not bear to return home and answer the question: "Did you see the Cezanne exhibit?" with a "No."
Now, we went to Aix just by chance, b/c I thought it'd be very nice. Meanwhile, thousands of...let's call them pilgrims...made sure that they were in Aix this summer to study this collection of paintings. The pre-sale of tickets was an idea long abandoned, and the dealy was that you had to go to a specific place; stand in line; and they would issue X amount of tickets for that day; and you would go that day. I did my recon and was resolute in my strategy, so despite ingesting lots of pizza and red wine late into the night at La Grange, I hauled myself (and Wyatt) out of bed the next morning pronto! so that we would be in line by 8:30. When we got there this was the line.
The doors didn't open until 9:00 a.m., so we stood there for a (yawn) half hour, and then the line slowly started to snake around the corner...
...until we at last got to the front door... that we could step through the door so that we could wait in line so that we could get to get to the counter to make the purchase.
We did that.
Wyatt was not very happy with me.

We got our tickets, and then headed back to the hotel to shower, try to obtain some coffee & toast scraps, and meet up w/Troy's mom, who was completely refreshed from a leisurely morning and rarin' to go.

People still in line for tickets that don't exist. Wyatt considers collapsing into the fountain.

Uh, that was a no-go on the shower, b/c by the time we got back to the hotel it was time to turn around and get to the museum. The crowd was so thick that I worried about whether or not we could get to the entrance, despite having the designated time slot. Once we got inside, we were packed like pickles in a jar, shuffling from room to room. The paintings were exquisite, of course. but with all the jostling and heat, I got to the point where I really didn't give a shit about Madame Cezanne or the nude bathers, and it all just seemed like tree after tree after tree and a mountain. So, we blitzed through the last of the rooms and sprinted to the exit, and felt so relieved to be free!
I may sound like a pleb, and maybe I am, but if someone asks me if I saw the exhibit -- which, no one has -- I can say I went, but I can't really offer up anything that intelligible.

Me: Can you take our picture as proof that we were here? Thank you![grimace]
Wyatt: Therapy, I need therapy.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Twice a week!

Terry took us to the market, what a place!

This is where you could shop twice a week if you lived in Aix. Lucky! Everything -- and I mean everything -- was incredible. Fresh, colorful, tasty, gorgeous, & abundant. My eyes were popping out.

The famous Cavaillon melons.

Olives, olives, olives! Preserved lemons, bacala, & peppers, too.

And spices.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Second leg: Aix-en-Provence

Aix is a beauuuuuuuutiful town. Amazing! Built by the Romans, with 101 fountains throughout, and a tree-lined boulevard designed so that Napoleon's army could "march in the shade." Ahhh. What a lovely place. The food was incredible, and luckily for us we had Terry to give us excellent restaurant recommendations. Tons of beautiful, fresh produce & excellent red wines (make no mistake, though -- this is rose town) -- we loved it all. The streets are narrow and slightly hilly, lined with gorgeous ancient buildings that house families, shops, and businesses -- a great place to stroll. This summer was a celebration of Aixois Paul Cezanne, and we did see the big exhibition, on speed, kind of, b/c I can't stand crowds, but it was great nevertheless.
Here's Wyatt on the TGV heading South. I love this train. That look on his face is b/c, at first, he felt the train wasn't living up to its "high-speed" name. It got going, of course.

Les Quatre Dauphines fountain. My Mom loved sunflowers, so I really liked seeing this impromptu gesture.

A handwritten note addressed to moi, and all these fabulous books were waiting for me when I unlocked the door to our hotel room. All from Terry! I love her confidence in me that she gave me a completely French cookbook! I'm going to rise to the occasion, no matter what the stakes.

I can't remember the name of this square, let's ask Terry. But it's historically preserved. And there's another beautiful fountain.

The cours Mirabeau. Now, this summer, there was a drought, which affected the trees and they weren't quite forming their fabled arch.

I think this is that orphanage that little girl Madeline lives in.
No, wait, that's in Paris. Nevermind.

Troy's Mom, first night in Les Agapes, a Provencal restaurant.

Details, details. Look at this incredible door.

Terry, trying on hats. She's an energetic & fun shopper!

The best pizzeria in town. Wood-fired.

Hunker down, b/c there are lots more where these came from.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The first leg: Paris.

Just in case you were disoriented..."where am I?!"

La Reine! Wyatt couldn't believe they just had GOLD on the streets like this. I guess it'd never happen in America; that orb would be gone like a Mercedes hood ornament.

Phew, toy store closed, saved me some euros!

...because I had other plans.

Hermes HQ. Big scarf on top, but a couple of Javerts are there standing guard, preventing people from scaling the building.

Les Deux Magots

Uhh, a park.

Ooo, is there love in the air? (Not if their Madames can help it.)

This Crepemeister ruled.

Me, Wyatt, & Julie

L'église de la Madeleine

Coming soon! Snakes on a Plane! Yeah!