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Perhaps you have noticed that the bust of politician Victor Leydet is back on its plinth at the Place Jeanne d’Arc, next to the Rotonde?  It was put back there on 18th December, 110 years to the day from its inauguration.

So who was Victor Leydet and what is the story of this statue?

Born in Aix in 1845, he went to school at what is now the college Mignet before finding work as a shop assistant in town.  He was soon running a local business dealing in almonds, oils and drinks, and married Louise Lucie Ely, sister of well-known Aix photographer Henri Ely – their premises are still in the Passage Agard.  He became involved in politics becoming adjoint au maire d’Aix, conseiller général, député and sénateur in Paris.

Back in 1879, Leydet bought 40 rue Villeverte, now named rue Victor Leydet, where his descedants still live.

When he died in Paris in 1908, sculptor Auguste Carli was commissioned to create a monument to him in his home town. Unfortunately this was requisitioned in 1942 by the Vichy regime under orders from the Nazis who were seizing metals for use in armaments.  It was replaced in 1951 by a marble bust from the Leydet tomb at the cimetière Saint-Pierre.  After decades in place, this bust was moved in 2012 when the area around the Rotonde was renovated.

A new version in bronze has been created and that’s what we can see today.  There was no ceremony – that will have to wait until it’s safe to celebrate the statue and the life of Victor Leydet.  Thanks to Dympna for sending details and photos to Aixcentric.

 

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Photo from La Provence

Buildings in rue Granet in Aix’s centre ville were evacuated on Monday evening when ‘travaux’ on a ground-floor apartment led to the vaulting in the cave below giving way.  Residents in flats above were told to leave immediately followed by all from numbers 21-25.  No-one was hurt and of the 63 people affected, 32 went to 5 hotels with the rest moved to temporary accommodation at Les Milles. (more…)

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Aix – Camels Cancelled

The annual Epiphany celebration which normally takes place in centre-ville early January has been cancelled: the organisers felt that there was no way of socially-distancing the procession of kings, shepherds, Provencal dancers and children – or indeed the numbers of people who line the streets to see them go by.

They hope this popular event will be back in 2022.

At least the Aixois can still tuck into the traditional galettes des rois on sale at all the bakeries early New YearYou can choose between the version with candied fruit (the jewels on the crown) or the traditional Provencal galette which has a sweet almond filling.

Remember to watch out for the little figurine or feve inside!

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In true cinematic style, Cannes is decorating itself with light, colour and sparkle to illuminate the last days of 2020 and send out a message which is ‘joyeux et positif’. Luminographe Gaspare di Caro has been invited in to bathe public buildings with light – here’s a taste:

Notre Dame de Bon Voyage

The ancient tower and chapel above the old quartier

Malmaison, the delightful gallery on the Croisette

And there’s even a competition for the locals to get in on the fun by decorating their balconies and having celebrations in their neighbourhoods. A very joyful and positive end to 2020.  Chapeau Cannes!

 

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Every year, for 28 years, the département Bouches du Rhone has sponsored free concerts of traditional Christmas music in towns and villages during the festive period.

The standard of music is high: last year six young choristers from England enchanted the audience in the superb setting of Aix’s St Jean de Malte.

This year, being this year, things are different with concerts being broadcast, first live, then through catch-up for 30 days, by France 3 Paca.

The daily sessions begin on 22 December with Noel British…the rest of the programme with details is here: https://www.departement13.fr/leschantsdenoel/

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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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