July 29, 2014

A visit to Aix-en-Provence

I spent a few days more than 10 years ago in Aix-en-Provence with my sisters and fell in love with this bustling town. I thought it the perfect introduction to Provence for Sean. Originally, I had wanted to take a day trip from the Riviera to seek out the blooming lavender fields, but after doing some research, I deemed anything further than a 90-minute drive was more than I was willing to do. Alas, that's another trip!

Since nobody else was interested in this journey, it was just the two of us, which was fine by me as it's always good to get in some "alone" time when traveling with a group. Since I wouldn't get to visit any lavender fields this trip, I decided that my ultimate goal in Aix was shopping! I've always loved the bright Provencal fabrics that are made in this region and I was hoping to find a new kitchen tablecloth. So off we went!

It was a blistering hot day, reaching almost 90 degrees, but that didn't stop the hordes of other tourists from enjoying their day. I just adore the overall palette of Provence; the colors are amazing and I can see why so many artists have fallen in love with the area; such inspiration!

After finding a place to park our car, we set off towards the city center and the famous "Cours Mirabeau" for a spot for lunch. Our lunch was very mediocre and it was one of the first times this trip where I felt we were given the "American Tourist" treatment. Oh well, I can't make everyone like me.

It didn't take long before I got my bearings and started remembering some of the cute, windy, little streets where I had walked years ago admiring all the shops. I have become a much more discerning "tourist" with regard to shopping. There was a time that I bought lots of little souvenir tchotchkes, but over the years, I've learned to stop wasting money on such useless treasures and buy things that I will actually use, or have a useful place in my home.

Sean was so patient with me as I drug him around the city looking for exactly what I had come for; the perfect tablecloth. They have such beautiful fabrics that I could see where I could get myself in trouble buying too many lovely things. Focus! Then there's the clothing stores for kids and babies . . . I swear I need an extra carry-on bag just for the stuff I've purchased already for my grandkids.

Within a couple of hours, I'd found almost exactly what I wanted and purchased a beautiful yellow tablecloth, some napkins and some really nice linen kitchen towels; the kind that lasts for years and seem to be such a great workhorse in the kitchen.

We enjoyed just strolling around and admiring the architecture and beautiful trees and flowers. There were many street performers out in the squares and we enjoyed some jazz, some reggae, some hip-hop rappers and even a group of African dancers.

It was the perfect little getaway and as the sun started to get low, we called it a day and drove back to the villa. By this time in our trip, I've learned to drive even better than the locals and there have been quite a few drivers who have flipped me off, honked their horn or lifted their hands in exasperation as I've asserted my place in line, or my turn in the roundabout. Don't be fooled, I'm no regular "stupid Americain"!

When we got back to the villa, it was still scorching hot out, so back into our suits we went and into the pool for a little cool down period. It was another perfect day!


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