Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Talking Rubbish in Provence

Amongst all the superlatives heaped by writers on Provence, one I hadn’t realised until now was that we are the home to France’s third largest illegal rubbish dump. Of course it’s clearly visible from the D9 as you pass the TGV station, but it’s sad to learn that it’s so extensive: 5000m2 of festering fly-tipping that has been building up now for 5 years. (more…)

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At last – and it’s official: (more…)

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Two Cycle Races for 2021

The itinerary for the 2021 Tour de France has been published and happily there will be a chance to watch it in person in Provence.


The key date for us is Wednesday 7th July when the intrepid cyclists will face a double ascent of the iconic Mont Ventoux, on the same day. The gruelling climb will feature twice on Stage 11, with riders starting on the easiest of the three sides at Sault – 26km at an average gradient of 4.6 per cent – then tackling its hardest side from Bedoin – 21km at 7.5 per cent.

Going to watch the Tour de France is, in my book, an unforgettable experience.  Sure there’s lots of waiting around as you have to bag your spot early but the atmosphere, the colourful ‘caravan’ procession, and finally the cyclists whizzing past make it worthwhile.  The good thing about these long climbs is that there are lots of vantage points and the riders are slowed down by the gradient.

In the meantime, there’s the Tour de la Provence which takes place 11-14th February 2021.  Not much detail online yet – will post when it’s available.




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Carrieres de Lumieres, the former quarry now centre for immersive art displays, has announced its theme for 2021, and it’s one that should prove popular with the Aixois… (more…)

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I was about to add a post about what you could see if you visited the fascinating ‘Musee departementale d’Arles Antique’…. when we were all re-confined to barracks.  So a visit is clearly for another day.

But in the meantime, they have put some interesting info online about the dig that has been progressing on the opposite bank of the Rhone, at Trinquetaille.

Underneath an 18thc glassworks, itself now a ‘monument historique’, they have uncovered a large group of Roman houses, many with mosaic floors.  The fresco in the illustration was found in a first century BC house that they’ve dubbed La Maison de la Harpiste’.  In the style of paintings in Pompei and Herculaneum, it’s unique in France.

The work started in 2013 and is described on this website, which also has links to video clips of the meticulous work undertaken.  http://www.arles-antique.cg13.fr/mdaa_cg13/root/actualitesexpositions_verrerie.html

It does say too that the fresco of the lovely harpist will at some point be transferred to the main museum.  So it will be exhibited alongside the stunning head of Caesar, a fascinating story with a link to Trinquetaille (https://aixcentric.com/2012/10/22/bust-of-caesar-or-is-it/)  and the impressive Roman boat which was painstakingly lifted from the bed of the Rhone and now has its own wing (https://aixcentric.com/2012/02/03/roman-boat-raised-from-the-rhone/).

If you are new to Aix, a visit to this museum (easy to find, lots of parking)

is highly recommended for the WTIAO list….When This Is All Over!

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If you can access the BBC, there’s a light-hearted look at the French Revolution on Friday evening. ‘Royal History’s Biggest Fibs’ is presented by the curator of the UK’s royal palaces, Lucy Worsley, who has a tendency to dress up and join in the fun.  But she is a serious historian and should have interesting insights.

‘In this film, Lucy Worsley explores some of the myths and fibs swirling around the Revolution of 1789 and the uprising that brought down the French royal family. This violent revolution became the blueprint of many future revolutions across the world. But what happened during this turbulent period is open to historical manipulation and interpretation.

Lucy discovers that Marie Antoinette never said ‘Let them eat cake’. This was a fib used by historians to help explain why the revolution happened. Historian Michael Rapport explains how the revolution was not started by starving peasants as many assume but was in fact sparked by a group of lawyers and property owners. Along the way, Lucy finds out that Maximilien Robespierre wasn’t simply a bloodthirsty revolutionary who relished violence and wanted to execute everyone who disagreed with him. In his earlier years, he stood against the death penalty and slavery and fought for the rights of France’s Jewish population. And the guillotine was invented by the revolutionaries not as a brutal punishment but as a more egalitarian and humanitarian form of execution.’

Details: Friday 6th November, 9pm British time; BBC2

Charleston farmhouse, home to the Bloomsbury group, and literary festival, now online

And, online this week, there’s a treat in the form of the annual literary festival at Charleston, the Sussex farmhouse that was the richly-decorated country hang-out for the Bloomsbury Group.

‘Join in conversations with a star-studded line-up including Maggie O’Farrell, Claire Tomalin, Monty Don, Elif Shafak and Carl Zimmer from the comfort of your own home as the Charleston to Charleston Literary Festival goes digital! The 10-day celebration of literature and ideas takes place online from 6 – 15 November with 16 free events.  All sessions premiere at Eastern Standard Time (EST) but most will be available to watch on YouTube after they have been streamed’.  Find out more here: http://www.charlestontocharleston.com/  The programme hasn’t anything specifically French but I’ve included this as probably we all need some diversion during lockdown!


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‘Plantes Pour Tous’ was started in 2017 by two urban-garden specialists who wanted to bring house plants direct from the growers to nature-loving townies.

They organise big weekend sales with plants priced at 2, 5, 10 and 15 euros.  Last time they had one in Aix I saw queues of people waiting to snag a bargain.

Interested? (more…)

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Happy Hour at MuCEM, Marseille

Fabulous, literally….the rooftop at MuCEM

During November and December, MuCEM’s new Happy Hour programme includes free admission to all exhibitions from 16:00-18:00.  This starts today and will last for the duration of the curfew.  It’s worth remembering that all the public museums in Marseille are free too, for the next 12 months.

Details here and worth a click to see the lovely photo of MuCEM, better than mine! https://www.mucem.org/le-mucem-en-mode-happy-hour

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New Ecomusée In Sea at Cannes

Marseille’s Les Catalans beach has been announced as the site for an underwater sculpture park by British artist Jason de Caires Taylor………..but it looks like Cannes has beaten us to it…

They are now preparing six works for a submarine display opening in early November to the south of Sainte Marguerite, a small island in the Bay of Cannes. Taylor’s 8ft-high sculptures—based on casts from the faces of local volunteers—will be placed 13ft below the surface, so swimmers will be able to see them without scuba equipment.

The underwater art park also has an ecological mission as the statues will be used to attract sea-life and vegetation. The city authorities of both Cannes and Marseille are planning partnerships with local schools, using the new attractions to educate students about marine conservation.

This is a really interesting little film which shows the sculptures arriving in Cannes from the UK:  https://youtu.be/3c-R4SulDnw


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‘Catastrophe’ is the word used by the traders’ association president to describe the ‘Les Docks’ office, shopping and dining development opposite Les Terrasses du Port.  Housed in beautifully renovated warehouses, the ground-floor thoroughfare was designed to take 80 shops and restaurants.  It opened in October 2015 and my view when I visited was basically that there were several new developments happening across Marseille, especially around the docks, and there’s a limit to what would be commercially viable.  And that was before Covid!  Click here for background: https://aixcentric.com/2016/10/11/marseille-latest-docksshopping-news/ (more…)

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