Delighted to say that my book Aix-en-Provence The Inside Story is being re-issued, brought up to date and now in colour throughout.  It ‘s 8 years since it was first published and I believe I am right in saying that it’s still the only book to cover the story of this fascinating town in English.

Where to buy it:  from http://www.lulu.com if you aren’t in Aix; but if you are, you can pick up a copy from Book-in-Bar in rue Joseph Cabassol. https://www.bookinbar.com/  Copies will be available from next week – call 04 42 26 60 07 to check.

It just remains to wish you all a happy and healthy summer as Aixcentric takes its annual break!







La Madeleine, Aix’s largest church, closed in 2007 for much-needed renovations.  When I visited prior to this, it was gloomy, criss-crossed with cracks, and smelled fusty.  The work was due to be finished by 2014, but is still closed. I had wondered when walking past what was holding things up.  It seems not much, literally. Continue Reading »

Model villages have long fascinated children: les petits-enfants Aixcentric all love a trip to Bekonscot, the world’s first ever miniature village, which preserves views of English life in the thirties.

Now lucky French families can see the entire Cote d’Azur laid out before them, from Marseille to Nice, taking in the calanques and Saint Tropez en route, at Mini World Cote d’Azur.

The scenarios include tiny people as well as cars and trains that whizz around.  And state-of-the-art technology is used to involve sound, lighting effects, even smell.

The attraction is 10 mins drive from Toulon centre-ville, off the A57.  Open daily during school holidays; other opening times are at:  https://miniworldcotedazur.com/la-cote-dazur-en-miniature/#

Thanks to Julia for the heads-up on this attraction.

Continue Reading »

The new Frank Gehry designed tower opens to the public on Saturday 26 June.

Long-time Aixcentric followers will have read about the development of the old SNCF railway sheds and shunting yards into LUMA Arles, a stylish arts centre, funded by Swiss industrialist and art-lover Maja Hoffman.

Hopefully the photo below will give you an idea of the scale of the ‘Parc des Ateliers’ site:  the large building with the blue-grey roof was a factory for making engines, and has been open for a couple of years for exhibitions.  Then there are various industrial buildings which were being converted when we visited, and past them (to the left of the photo), the new tower designed by US Architect Frank Gehry.   The whole 20-acre site will be a centre for studios, workshops, research, exhibitions, and link into the annual ‘Les Rencontres d’Arles’ photography show which takes over every square inch of space in the old town each summer, barring pandemics.

Reservations are necessary.

Full details are here: https://mailchi.mp/ae2aa955220b/j-8806802?e=22370d79db

The pandemic has certainly done wonders for online shopping – we certainly benefited from home deliveries – but isn’t it great that real shops are open again, and well done to all the Aix shops who have managed to weather such an unprecedented storm.

One of the prettiest shops in Aix is Rose et Marius, the fragrance-specialist which is just steps from the Place des Precheurs.

Its creator Magali writes: I wanted to share with you great news … ROSE ET MARIUS, Maison of Haute Parfumerie from Aix en Provence has been selected by the French president Emmanuel Macron to represent our Department at Elysée palace the 3&4th of July. Please find below the link of the Rose Wine fragrance candle hand made in France that will represent Provence : https://www.roseetmarius.com/en/bougie-grand-modele/3351-casteu-red-scented-candle-with-rose-wine-3760107480606.html

On Sunday, MSC Seaside set off for Sicily with an experimental group of 339 passengers instead of the usual 5000.

All being well, cruise ship holidays can resume in France on 30 June (Italy restarted in May), and the first boats leave Marseille on 4 July.  MSC say that they are strictly observing all protocols for passenger safety.

The dockside shops and ‘petit train’ operators must be heaving sighs of relief.


Art in Aix Gardens

The coming weekend sees the welcome return of Les Flaneries d’Art, the annual two-day programme of artists, craftspeople, musicians and actors performing in gardens in centre ville.  This year there are 19 performers in 6 gardens which open specially for this event.

A excellent opportunity for a peek behind all those high walls and locked gates!

Programme link here: https://www.aix-en-oeuvres.com/flaneries-2021/

Laura Owens & Vincent van Gogh

from 19 June to 31 October 2021

Opening next weekend, the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles will present an exhibition bringing together new works by the American artist Laura Owens with seven paintings by Van Gogh, most made in and around Arles.

Van Gogh hardly needs an introduction but here’s what the gallery writes about Laura Owens:

“Owens is one of the most celebrated American artists working today. For twenty-five years she has asked probing questions about the parameters of painting. She has expanded painting’s possibilities by breaking through the boundaries between painting and other fields of visual and material culture such as embroidery, design, children’s illustrations and digital drawing. In this exhibition, Owens’s works will host and respond to Van Gogh’s paintings. Owens spent most of 2020 living in and around Arles, and her new work comes out of meticulous research into the history of the city and of Van Gogh’s connections here”.

The seven Van Gogh paintings to be shown at the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles include loans from museums with which Owens has a deep connection. Hospital at Saint-Rémy (1889) comes from the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the city where she lives when not in Arles. Other key loans include The Fields, painted in Auvers-sur-Oise shortly before Van Gogh died.

“Laura Owens has often addressed the spaces where she has exhibited. For this exhibition she has created a vast painting, in the form of a unique hand-painted and silkscreened wallpaper installation, which will cover the entire walls of the rooms where the Van Gogh works will be exhibited.

Van Gogh’s interest in setting up an artists’ community in Arles is echoed in Owens’s career-long efforts to create spaces for other artists to exhibit. In collaboration with Maja Hoffmann and LUMA Arles, Laura Owens has also started a parallel project in Arles. She has turned an apartment building, located in the town centre, into a studio and living quarters for artists who will spend short residencies there; this space will slowly be filled with their, and her art.”

Details: http://www.fondation-vincentvangogh-arles.org/en/expositions/laura-owens-vincent-van-gogh/

Vincent van Gogh, Hospital at Saint-Rémy,
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, October 1889
Oil on canvas, 92.2 × 73.4 cm (36.3 × 28.9 in)
Gift of the Armand Hammer Foundation
Hammer Museum of Art, Los Angeles
© The Armand Hammer Collection


Two new exhibitions to mark on your calendar, both in nearby vineyards. 

At Rognes, the Chateau Bonisson is showing the work of two artists, Nicolas Chardon and Michel Verdux, under the heading ‘Cercles et Carres’.


The Le Dorze family from Bourgogne acquired the 10-hectare domaine in 2017 and have created an art centre, comprising 4 rooms dedicated to contemporary work.  ‘Cercles et Carres’ opens on Wed 16th June and runs until 26th September.  Free guided tours are available by reservation on Wed, Sat and Sundays.  Take the opportunity too for wine tasting and stocking up on their olive oil and honey.

Nicolas Chardon & Michel Verjux

Meanwhile, over at Puyloubier,  preparations are advanced for the forthcoming exhibition of the work of Alexandra Pitz (sculptures) and Manuela Donatini (collages) at the Domaine le Loup Bleu.

Alexandra is a Berliner living in Provence.  Her background is in set-design and costume creation for the theatre, opera and ballet.  She took up sculpture in 2013.  Her intriguing work at this show harnesses natural materials into melodic compositions.

There are two vernissage days 26th and 27th June, 10-19:00 and the show will stay open until 15th August.  The domaine proprietor is Sylvie Dubois who works with the ‘Art-et-vin’ organisation, a really useful resource for finding out what’s on over the summer.  Here’s her website: https://www.le-loup-bleu.com/

Thanks to Jules for his recommendation of these creative spirits!