…..is my new book which is being launched this week. Continue Reading »

The number of destinations and frequency of flights from Marseille Provence Airport as we move into the holiday season has increased.

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Chapeau!   The conseil municipal of Aix yesterday unanimously voted to install three glass panels (dalles vitrés) above the archaeological remains recently uncovered in the Place Verdun.

The ‘dig’ has been going on ahead of the pedestrianisation of the places Precheurs, Madeleine and Verdun.  Link to some background: https://aixcentric.com/2016/06/05/place-des-precheurs-archaeologists-to-move-in/

It’s front page news in today’s La Provence and here is a rough shot of their explanatory diagram which shows where the panels will be. Continue Reading »

There’s a good film in V.O. at the cinema in Aix, ideal if you want to get away from the wind and rain forecast. Continue Reading »

‘BACK TO THE FUTURE’ is the theme for the 49th Rencontres d’Arles photography exhibition.  ‘This year, you are invited to cross space and time with a breathtaking, celestial journey across the ages. Photography is often the best-placed medium for registering all the shocks that remind us the world is changing, sometimes right before our eyes’, they write.

It’s developed into one of the world’s largest photography shows, with exhibitions in every available space across town.  This year, it has sections such as ‘America Great Again!’ featuring various photographers including Raymond Depardon; then there is ‘Run Comrade, the Old World is Behind You’ to mark the anniversary of 1968.  Included in this is a show I saw in London – ‘The Train. RFK’s Last Journey’.  It features the small groups of people who lined the entire route of the train that took Robert Kennedy’s body to its final resting place in Washington and is a fascinating snapshot of life 50 years ago.

The programme is here: https://www.rencontres-arles.com/en/expositions.  Sorry don’t know why they always have upside-down images on their posters. 2 July to 23 September.

Also this summer  in Arles, British artists Gilbert and George are exhibiting at LUMA, the new arts campus.  (Post about LUMA here: https://aixcentric.com/2016/05/25/changes-to-arles-skyline/) Their exhibition entitled ‘The Great Exhibition, 1971-2016’ runs 2nd July – 6th January.

I like the sound of ‘Une Histoire avec Vincent’ which starts at LUMA on the same day.  Young photographer Lily Gavin was given daily access to filming of ‘A La Porte de l’Eternité’ by director Julian Schnabel.  It took place over 8 weeks around Arles so her pictures should be interesting.

So – 2nd July – trip to Arles sorted!

Marseille is the oldest town in France, so when you walk along by the Vieux Port, you are following in the footsteps of Greek fishermen, shopkeepers, sailors and traders who established their colony in 600 BC.  They, and the Romans who arrived later, have left traces that emerge so often when new building takes place.

Take for instance the shopping mall at the Bourse, in the centre of town.

Greek and Roman remains in the middle of France’s second city

Excavations for the building in 1967 revealed the foundations of the original Greek port,  burial sites, remains of warehouses…all of which can now be seen in a spacious garden beside the shops.

The Musée d’ Histoire de Marseille was established alongside during this time, but was renovated and updated in time for the 2013 Year of Culture.  It is now one of Europe’s largest history museums and really worth a visit.

In fact there is almost too much to take in, as it walks us through 26 centuries of urban development.

Discovered during the building of the Bourse shopping centre, this 2nd century boat sank in 3m of water.

Highlights include the remains of the biggest ancient boat on show in the world.  It would have carried 100 tonnes of merchandise.

There are lots of statues, tableware, jewellery, household items, mainly from Roman times, before we get to the section on Marseille in the Middle Ages.  Different stages of development are illustrated by large models of the town and port.

Unlike some local museums, this one has tried hard to engage younger visitors with an interactive game or info-point for kids at the beginning of each section – bravo!  Explanatory panels are in English too.

On we go, through the Revolution and a section devoted to the rapidly industrialising Marseille: posters and paintings show the importance of the port, the soap industry, metallurgy and chemicals. 

There is so much to discover in this museum which couldn’t be more central.  After visiting, you simply go through the connecting corridor back into the Bourse shopping centre which continues the commercial activities started by the Greeks 2,600 years ago.


We were very surprised how few other visitors there were in the museum.  Maybe ten at the time of our visit. So my friend who is very active in various local associations asked if she could organise a group visit through the museum.  No was the answer – they only have guides for school parties.  Were there any reproductions of the posters for sale?   Was there a catalogue?  No and no again.

Surely some marketing focus could be brought to bear here; and I’m thinking of the numerous visitors coming in on cruise ships who are in town for a short space of time.  Most will want to stroll round town, but on very windy days like today, or when it’s hot or wet, it would make an ideal place to explore.

The ‘Journal de visite’ which is given at the beginning is an excellent 24pp news-sheet, in French.  English version here and good to skim before visiting: journal_musee_dhistoire-anglais

The museum is open daily exc. Monday, 10:00-18:00hrs. If you haven’t, do visit!







Did you know that Marseille has France’s oldest quincaillerie, or hardware shop?

It really is a must-visit if you are interested in traditional Provencal life.  Take the magnificent big hand-graters for instance – just the sort of gadget used in café kitchens many years ago for churning out carrots and cabbage for salads.  Then there are traditional crepe pans for sale, as well as Provencal jugs for the table.

See the original fittings in France’s oldest quincaillerie

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