The centre of town was ‘noir de monde’ today for the big launch. With EU President José-Manuel Barroso, Culture Minister Aurelie Fillipetti, and Aix Mayor Marysse Joissans present, MP2013 got off to a very creative start here in Aix.
Nobody seemed certain about the events or their timing – the programme had been maddeningly vague. A little boy asked his mum what was going on and she just said, ‘C’est n’est pas clair cheri’. Huh, typical I thought. But then maybe sometimes its better when things aren’t clear: we can get some true surprises.
The orchestra of 30 saxophonists were not in les Allées Provencales as I had thought, but on top of the Grand Théatre de Provence, clad in medieval-style outfits made out of shiny grey fabric with elaborate plastic head-dresses. To their accompaniment, a white balloon arose with a circus performer, dangling and gyrating on a long white fabric loop. She was wonderful.
Then came the funambule, walking across his wire between the Pavillon Noir and a crane. The crowd were utterly entranced. Then he danced, sat on the wire, lay on the wire and even hung off it on his long pole.
Everyone was holding their breath, silent and amazed.
His finale was greeted with tremendous applause and then, as the Patrouille de France roared past - boom – all those large red balloons popped to release lots and lots of little balloons to the delight of all the children. As I was walking through town afterwards, there were so many families clutching their kids, cameras and red balloons. What a lovely surprising start to the year of culture!