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A final post on books today!

The Cheltenham Literature Festival, one of the Uk’s best-known, is taking place this year 2-11 October under strict social-distancing conditions; but the good news is that we can all join in, free of charge.  There are some interesting writers either taking part in discussions or introducing their books.  Take a look: https://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/literature/

Lovers of all things French should enjoy ‘Au Revoir Tristesse. Lessons in Happiness from French Literature’. Writer, comedian and broadcaster Viv Groskop takes a light-hearted look at how to bring more humour, happiness, and joie de vivre into our lives through French literature. From the frothy hedonism of Colette and the wit of Cyrano de Bergerac to the intoxicating universe of Marguerite Duras and the heady passions of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, this is a love letter to great French writers.  October 7th, 10-11:00hrs.

Just the thing for the coming winter months! Ansouis library is holding its annual book sale on Saturday September 26th from 10am to 5pm. There will be a wide selection of books & DVDs in both English and French.
The sale will be held in the library/school car park –  just outside the village on the road to La Tour d’Aigues. The proceeds will go to the library to help buy new books and organise cultural events.
 

Thanks for this information go to Claire McAlpine who writes:’ if anyone is looking for reading recommendations they can check out my Word by Word blog at https://clairemcalpine.com/

I’ll be donating quite a few boxes of books, many of which I’ve reviewed’.

An Aixcentric follower yesterday prompted me to remind everyone of a series of crime novels set in Aix.  She had spent time in town recently on holiday and loved reading fiction set in places newly familiar.  For all those who aren’t in Provence right now but would like to immerse themselves in the unique ambiance of Aix, the ‘Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery’ series by M. L. Longworth provides the perfect escapism.

There are 8 titles to date with stories set in villages around town, the coast too, as well as the streets and squares of Aix. ‘Death at the Chateau Bremont’ (see photo) is perhaps the best starting point, being the first in the series; but all the novels are stand-alone so dive in wherever you like.

M. L . Longworth has written for The Washington Post, The Times (London), The Independent, and Bon Appétit magazine. She divides her time between Aix-en-Provence, where she writes, and Paris, where she teaches writing at New York University’s Paris campus.

The books are available at Aix’s English language book-shop, Book-in-Bar, or from Amazon: https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=amazon.fr+m+l+longworth

 

PS. To read my reviews of her novels over the years, just type Longworth into the Aixcentric search bar and they should pop up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For all who love art or indeed are painters themselves, Aix-based Trevor White has written “Art and Perspective through the Ages”, ISBN 0999093347.  With his scientific background, he was intrigued as to how artists have strived to represent our rich, three-dimensional world on a flat, two-dimensional canvas. He asked himself:

How have artists represented our world over the centuries?

At what point did artists first represent the world in a realistic, natural-looking way?

What techniques did they use to help achieve realism?

Using famous works as examples, Trevor takes us on a journey from pre-historic art, through spectacular Renaissance paintings, to modern-day photorealism. We learn how, over time, artists devised techniques that produce impressive depth and realism on a flat surface. Next time you see a painting, especially a famous one, you will appreciate even more the genius behind the canvas.

Choose between English and French versions
Available worldwide, in print and Kindle formats via Amazon (France and UK)
https://www.amazon.fr/Perspective-through-Ages-Trevor-White/dp/0999093347/ref=sr_1_1?__mk_fr_FR=%C3%85M%C3%85%C5%BD%C3%95%C3%91&dchild=1&keywords=art+and+perspective+trevor+white&qid=1594626682&s=english-books&sr=1-1#customerReviews

Click for a short video sample on youtube https://youtu.be/D1HnMHVnBnI

Aix-Marseille Cafe Closure

News broke late yesterday that cafes, bars and restaurants across the whole Aix-Marseille Metropole are to be closed completely for two weeks from Saturday.  The decision which came from the Health Ministry in Paris also affects sports halls, gyms and salles des fetes. The local reaction has been furious with elected officials including the new mayor of Marseille saying that they weren’t consulted: https://www.laprovence.com/article/france-monde/6120509/direct-laprovence-coronavirus-a-aix-marseille-le-reconfinement-des-bars-et-restaurants-provoque-lin Continue Reading »

It’s 9 months since the November morning when fire ripped through Aix’s most famous cafe, Les Deux Garcons.  At last I have some news to report… Continue Reading »

Koons with one of his balloon dogs

Next year’s MuCEM blockbuster will be a show devised by and dedicated to US artist Jeff Koons.  His sculptures depict everyday objects, including stainless-steel balloon animals which sell for stratospheric prices: ‘Rabbit’ sold for $91.1m.  Curators at the Marseille museum have invited Kooms to ‘dialogue’ with their collection of thousands of items. He will choose 200 of them to exhibit and produce 20 works inspired by them.  The artist has already been to Marseille twice to plan the show. Continue Reading »

‘Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal.’ -Voltaire*
 
I still scream for ice cream!
There’s something about childhood memories of eating ice cream that makes people smile!
 
Susan Gish writes: Sam and I had a really tough assignment over the summer doing the research for this article (she said sarcastically). But someone has to do it, so instead of worrying about getting rid of those post confinement calories, we only ate salad the days we indulged in double scoops of ice cream. (Ha – don’t you believe that!)
 
Sam is more of a purist than me, as you can well imagine. His test is to always try the vanilla first. If that is good, he’ll go back for other classics like pistachio or rum raisin.  He eats his ice cream in a cup with a spoon. Classy, that.
I always eat mine in a cone. Nice and messy. Generally, I think, kids eat ice cream in cones and adults eat from cups.
(or ‘pots’ as they say here in France). I guess I’m still a kid then!
 
I’m far from a purist myself – I tend to like more interesting flavors and creative combinations of tastes together. 
For example, my childhood memories are of eating watermelon and chocolate ice cream. Together. Double scoop on a sugar cone. At Michael’s Dairy in New London, Connecticut where I grew up. If they were out of watermelon it would be strawberry with big chunks of real strawberries in it. Or sometimes banana. Or black raspberry! My grandmother liked coffee best which was really good too. Then there was the chocolate threaded with peanut butter. Gulp.
Oh, wait! I just remembered the malted milkshakes with chocolate ice cream and a whole banana! 
So thick, you couldn’t drink it with the straw. The straw would act as a spoon to scoop it into your mouth.
Waiting in line outside for a half hour and watching each milkshake being made through the glass windows, step by step. It wasn’t torture at all to wait. It was anticipation. To the 10 year old me, this was the bee’s knees.
 
Now I know what you are thinking. Eww, watermelon and chocolate? Together? Well that’s why there are different strokes for different folks. To each their own, as they say. I imagine this was the reason it was called Baskin Robbins 31 flavors. Everyone has their favorite flavor. It’s all about your own favorite taste combination.
 
When you see our list below of places that we went to, you’ll probably say: ‘She doesn’t talk about Amorino. She never went to Emki Pop. I can’t believe she never went to that place on Espariat/rue d’Italie/fill in place here! Oh, my gosh, how could she possibly miss that place, it’s the absolute BEST!’

 …And that’s where I say, it’s all about taste and what you like! For example, we brought friends to our favorite ice cream shop in Aix and her response was: ‘I didn’t love it but I wouldn’t throw it off the plate. By the way, have you been to that ice cream place in Nice? It’s the best!’

 I more than welcome your recommendations of the best ice cream you’ve ever had: feel free to write away in the comments so we can all agree to disagree and put a smile on our own faces thinking about it! For the record, besides Michael’s Dairy, I love any of the Gelato places we’ve been to in Italy. Or maybe my favorite is Bassett’s Butterscotch vanilla in Philadelphia. Berthillon in Paris? Hmm…
 
Since there’s nothing like a child’s love of ice cream, I asked 10 year old Elisa Le Borgne who lives in Aix, to give me her opinion of a few places:
Her verdict:
Amorino – nice but a bit too sugary
i’Pinguini – delicious – mango tastes like real fruit
Giovanni- lots of ice cream flavour choices and I like how you can also order a crepe or gaufre that they make fresh in front of you.
Weibel- you can only choose one flavour in a pot.
 
How did we choose which places to go to?
I can answer that by saying that if we saw colors that are not found in nature we would pass by that particular ice cream store. So. Here is our list of where we went to in the Aix area: (in no particular order except starting with our favorite)

Ice cream at i’ Pinguini

 
i’Pinguini – Hands down, our favorite in Aix. Their pistache and café are creamy & unbelievable. Love their chocolat noir, fraise, melon, cookies and cream with lovely cream, vanilla speculoos, caramel au beurre salé. Actually we have loved everything we’ve tasted! They have nice sized scoops as well as good cones.
The ice cream is made with local fruits from the region. They use as many local ingredients as possible and have Ecocert certification for the sorbets. The caramel au beurre salé is made with the PDO of Issigny cream (Protected Denomination of Origin). The flagship product is the 70% cocoa dark chocolate sorbet.
La Provence wrote an article about them on 16 September describing how the two friends from Eguilles, Enzo and Alex, trained with a master ice cream maker in Italy. They have been making ice cream in Eguilles for 7 years now, but just opened their first store in the center of Aix. We’ve probably been a half dozen times in the past month. Also last week they opened a larger laboratory in Eguilles where you can sit outside on a terrace and relax and eat your ice cream. You might have seen their cute 3-wheeled ice cream truck at the Journées des Plantes d’Albertas. Shoot. We have yet to try the soft serve ice cream they make. We’ll probably get that tomorrow after this article is posted.
 
Leonard Parli – Although known for their calissons, they have a little cart outside of their shop on rue Gaston Saporta. They win for their unique flavors of ice cream used with ingredients from their confectioner:  calisson d’Aix, chocolate with clementine confit, kirsch with fruit confit, biscotin d’Aix, nougat blanc, nougat noir, ispahan which is framboise sorbet with litchi. Scoops are small, cone was big and tasty, prices high.
 
Philippe Faur – Stracchiatella and chocolate noir were very good. He is a Maître Artisan Glacière.
 
—Segond – They offer pre filled cups only – We had vanilla, chocolate and miel pignon. The vanilla with vanilla beans was very good, the milk chocolate was kind of old fashioned and I liked it. Perhaps they were not as fresh tasting from being pre-filled.
 
Wiebel -From the cart outside the shop, they also offer cups only, but not pre-filled. Last year we liked their flavors but didn’t try them this year. I am dying to try their ice cream cakes, but not sure how to get one home! I suppose they offer dry ice or similar.
 
—Bechard – Didn’t get to them this year either, usually a line at the cart outside when we went by.
 
Giovanni – A lot of tourists but decent ice cream. It’s nice to sit there on the Cours and watch the world go by.
 
Outside Aix:

Le Quillé Glacier -We have been to both of them, the one at the top of the hill in Miramas with the lovely view,

Temptation at Le Quillé

and in La Roque d’Anthéron. La Roque is the one we went to with a friend recently. Sam and I split 6 boules: banane, rhum raisin, grand marnier, caramel beurre sale, pistache, chocolate noir, ouganda carmelized almonds. Guess who chose the flavors, ha! No vanilla for me! Our friend had 3 boules: vanilla, caramel au beurre sale and mint chocolate chip. They also have a huge menu of themed sundaes with chantilly and all sorts of things to go on top, or with alcohol in them. Nice outdoor seating with lots of space at both locations.

L’art Glacier– Ansouis – Didn’t get to them this summer, but really liked it a few other times. Gorgeous view, outdoor seating, large menu with sundaes and chantilly, etc. like at Le Quillé.
 
Note: L’art Glacier and Le Quillé Glacier are both places where a family can go to celebrate birthdays, sit outside and can easily pay 100 euros for the ‘experience’. 
 
Maison Casalini – We love the one in Cassis and go every time we are there. Try the pistache from Sicily (which might be even better than iPinguini’s) or amarena. Their chocolate noir rocks. Sam had a different pistachiosso, which was vanilla with pistachio candy-ish crust on top. He also had stracchiatella and a cremino: a hazelnuty/chocolaty combination. There’s another Casalini in Fuveau (thanks, Dana from Tita for that tip!).
 
-Susan & Chef Sam
 
*Wikiquote says: “I have seen this quote attributed to Voltaire on several websites: the sentence does not exist in French (no reported written sources). It seems to be a English pseudo-quote, spreading from a fake/joke into the internet”
 
Addresses can be found on Facebook for all these shops. If you aren’t on Facebook, they’re all in the center of Aix, except for Casalini, Quillé and Art d’Glacier.
 
i’Pinguini -Place St. Honoré & Eguilles
Leonard Parli -rue Gaston Saporta
Philippe Faur -Cours Mirabeau -Note: they close at the end of October for the season.
Segond -top of Cours Mirabeau
Wiebel -Place Richelme
Bechard -Cours Mirabeau
Amorino -a few locations in Aix
Giovanni -Cours Mirabeau
 
Art d’ Glacier -Ansouis
Casalini -Cassis & Fuveau
Quillé – Miramas top of the hill & La Roque d’Antheron
 



Continue Reading »

I’m reading that events this coming weekend in Aix and Marseille, as well as other communities along the coast have been cancelled due to rising infection levels. https://www.frequence-sud.fr/art-2591-journees_du_patrimoine_-_aix_en_provence_aix_en_provence.  The cancellation is also flagged up on the Aix tourism website: https://www.aixenprovencetourism.com/blog/journees-patrimoine-aix-en-provence/ – it looks like the whole programme is affected.

See Louise Colet’s portrait in the Musee Granet

There’s a special event on Sunday, Journées du Matrimoine, which will take participants around some of the sites connected with the women of Aix.

When I wrote my book ‘Aix-en-Provence: the Inside Story’, one of my objectives was to focus on the women, but it was hard going to find anything.  It was just as if they hadn’t existed. One I did stumble across was Louise Colet, born and brought up in the rue de l’Opera.  Feisty, she soon left town for Paris where she took de Musset and Flaubert as lovers, inspiring the character of Madame Bovary along the way.

Her home will be one of the stops on the walk.  It’s organised by http://osezlefeminisme.fr/.  Meet at 14.30 in, where else, Brits beware, Place Jeanne d’Arc.