Time for the annual summer break.

There’s so much happening in Provence right now with opera and art in Aix, theatre in Avignon, photography in Arles….music in the vineyards, cinema under the stars in the parks.  And then there’s the beach or lakes for a spot of swimming.

The picture above is ‘La Sieste a Saint-Tropez, Kisling avec Renée’ by Moise Kisling.  I know how Renée feels in this heat!

Have a lovely holiday and see you back here at the end of the summer.

…starting on Friday evening with the Provencal celebrations of the ‘Feu de la Saint-Jean’ with dancing and music throughout the evening in the cours Mirabeau, culminating in the traditional bonfire at the Rotonde as darkness falls. 

Saturday sees the opening of the summer exhibition, Passion de l’Art, at the Musée Granet, this year showing 100 works from the Galerie Jeanne Bucher Jaeger in Paris.    Have a look at their website for a taste: http://www.museegranet-aixenprovence.fr/expositions/prochainement/passion-de-lart.html

The big free concert, PARADE(S), takes place on the Cours Mirabeau, at 21:45 on 26th June; this year, extracts from Carmen are sur l’affiche.

And finally don’t forget the Flaneries d’Art Contemporain – open gardens which showcase the work of artists and craftspeople throughout the town.  A splendid opportunity to get a glimpse behind those high walls! Details:  https://www.aix-en-oeuvres.com/flaneries-2017/informations-pratiques/


Fete de la Musique

It’s the solstice so of course it’s time for the Fete de la Musique!

Here is the programme for this evening’s festivities in Aix.


The centre-piece is the final of the Class’EuRock competition on the stage at the top of the cours Mirabeau, presided over by Pablo Moses who acc. to the tourist office is a great name in reggae.  Should be interesting.

Also on the programme, and playing a dependable mix of pop and blues, are The True Ones – catch them from 20:00 in the rue d’Italie.


The latest in the series of ‘Les Dimanches de la Canebiere’ takes place  on Sunday.  These events have been created to bring people back to the town centre and seem to be getting more and more popular.  This time, there will be an Egyptian brunch at Nour d’Egypte while Toinou are offering Plancha de la Mer et Aioli on their terrace – Mediterranean feasts!  Lots of activities for the family too – dance, music, games, market – here’s the press release: Présentation-prog-juin-site-mairie-1-7

We normally park at the MuCEM parking which is really easy on a Sunday.  Here’s the poster for info:


….three good reasons to go to this lovely gallery.

  1. There’s a new exhibition entitled ‘Escales Mediterranéennes’ with 80 works showing ports from the Cote d’Azur to Algeria, the Adriatic to the Cote Vermeille.  As usual, there are lots of artists to discover – see below for instance, ‘Bord de Cote a Martigues’ by Antoine Ponchin, 1872-1933.  (Until 7th January 2018)
  2. You can see the lovely Joseph Inguimerty show at the same time – info here:https://aixcentric.com/2017/06/10/poetry-in-painting-joseph-inguimberty/
  3. And finally…the scenic roof-top terrace restaurant and café has been given a refresh.  What a space for boat-watching!

    (C) C M Clavel

Peter Mayle certainly started something back in 1989 when he published ‘A Year in Provence’.  What a best-seller that turned out to be; and it launched a whole genre of ‘newcomer-to-Provence-buys-old-house/olive-grove’ books that document the inevitable cultural differences that we all bump up against. Is there anything more to be said?

Well Keith Van Sickle certainly thought so.

He and wife Val wanted to leave the US to live in Provence, but there were two problems: they weren’t French speakers and they had full-time jobs.  So, taking advantage of new technology, they left their jobs, became consultants and split their time between the two countries.

‘One Sip at a Time’ charts their progress mastering the new language and making friends with the locals.  Of course long meals are the order of the day so the ‘one sip’ in the title relates to our delightful Provencal wine, but also to the short chapters of the book, each with its own central observation.

I did enjoy this approach as he comments on:

  • the right and wrong ways for men to kiss each other
  • the French addiction to Nutella
  • when to pronounce the final ‘s’ as in Carpentras, but why the ‘x’ is pronounced in Coudox and not in Velaux when they are next door to each other
  • being the subject of waiters’ scorn for liking milk in coffee
  • the preponderance of tail-gaters in France…..and so on.

The couple had three extended stays in the area – Molleges, Le Thor and Ventabren, near Aix – and did their best to fit into each community, making good friends along the way.

It’s an easy and light-hearted read: both M. Aixcentric and I enjoyed it.

It would make a welcome pressie for new arrivals to the area.   I’m sure ‘Book In Bar’ could order it for you or…https://www.amazon.co.uk/One-Sip-Time-Learning-Provence/dp/0998312002 have it in paperback or Kindle.


Paris is a much-loved and well-known city, well documented too, but increasingly visitors are seeking out new quartiers to explore, whether through neighbourhood guided tours or staying in Airbnb accommodation.

Writer Susan Cahill has tapped into this vibe with her guide to Paris following in the footsteps of famous Parisians.

She includes medieval lovers Héloïse and Abelard, King Henri IV, scientist Madame Curie,  chanteuse Edith Piaf, and the writer Colette. We are told the life-stories of twenty-two famous Parisians and then taken to the quartiers where they lived and worked. Every tour begins with a Metro stop and ends with a list of “Nearbys”―points of interest along the way, including cafes, gardens, squares, museums, bookstores, churches, and, of course, patisseries.

To follow artist Alberto Giacometti for instance, the visitor must go to the district of Pernety in the 14th arondissement to find his studio.  It was a rural area back then but now artists have colonised the old stables.  Susan Cahill describes the area: ‘It’s scenic and charming like a movie set of a secret Paris though it feels – it is – lived in’.  The chapter tells us lots about the artist and his years living there. Bordering Montparnasse, he visited all the artistic haunts – La Coupole, Le Select and Le Dome – often walking miles at night with Samuel Beckett.   After the walk through the neighbourhood, the author directs us to Place Flora Tristan to join the locals at this terrace-café.

It’s a great idea for a book with loads of ideas for exploring Paris – lots of photos too.

For some reason, it is currently only available to order through http://www.amazon.com which means a dispatch here in France from the US.  Here’s the link:https://www.amazon.com/Streets-Paris-Following-Footsteps-Throughout/dp/1250074320