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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Plans are in place for the forthcoming annual Festival d’Aix which, fingers crossed, will take place in July.

Enjoying Parade(s), a free concert, part of Aix-en-juin.

A more recent innovation is the Aix-en-juin programme of operatic events which take place around town and are either a taster for those who can’t wait for the festival, or a useful introduction to the world of opera for others.  More finger-crossing – it is scheduled for 10th to 30th June and, this year, will be free. (more…)

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Today’s Guardian has a good piece on Marseille today: its overview of the city’s culture is underscored with links to books, films and TV series, precious memories for those of us who are, at present, far away from this vibrant city: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2021/feb/05/marseille-virtual-tour-books-film-food-music-photography

Most visitors to the city will soon feel the passion for the local football team, the legendary Olympique de Marseille.  In fact bars right across Provence are decorated with scarves and mascots in the team’s colours.  But there’s trouble at the Velodrome right now – so much so that it’s knocked the global pandemic off the front pages of La Provence this week, with words like ‘catastrophe’ peppering its prose.  I’d lost the plot so thanks again to the Guardian for sportingly providing a resume today.  https://www.theguardian.com/football/2021/feb/03/marseille-title-contenders-chaos-andre-villas-boas-ligue-1

I hope Marseille soon gets back to a team they are proud of….Allez l’OM!

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Here’s a lovely start to the week with this fine portrait chosen by President Joe Biden to hang near his desk in the Oval Office.  It shows Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), one of the Founding Fathers of the US, painted by Joseph-Siffred Duplessis from Carpentras. (more…)

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Not Fair…

…for Aix teenagers and thrill-seekers.  The annual Foire aux Maneges at the Stade de Carcassonne which was supposed to be starting on February 13th has now been cancelled.

And planned events elsewhere have had to be put back: the Easter Feria in Arles has been rescheduled for 4-6 June, and the 2021 Cannes Film Festival will now start on July 6th.  How difficult it must be right now for events organisers…

But at least there is something opening that will gladden Aixois hearts – La Poste at the Rotonde. It’s been closed since October for general renovation and improvement of digital services. Re-opens Tuesday 2nd February at 14:00hrs.

Museum closed but visitors are enjoying new content online

In other news Marseille Provence Airport has had the thumbs up for their proposed expansion, a 22,000 sq m building which link the existing terminals to provide much more space for check-in desks, baggage handling, and commercial areas such as shopping and restaurants. Of course 2020 saw a dramatic drop in numbers, but the authorities expect a return to normal growth by 2023.

Also coping with the situation positively is Aix’s Musée Granet. It’s closed, but is welcoming about 1000 virtual visitors to their site where they have bite-sized films of various aspects of the current exhibition of Egyptian antiquities, narrated by curator-in-chief Bruno Ely; also proving popular are their activities for children – check both out here:  http://www.museegranet-aixenprovence.fr/visites-et-activites.html

And to end on a positive note, there’s good news from the Carmargue where the drop in tourist numbers has resulted in an increase in the population of flamingoes.

There are 1000 more than normal and they are all apparently breeding well in the calm conditions essential to their feelings of security. The nature park, Pont de Gau, near Saints-Maries-de-la-Mer, is also welcoming birds like the ibis falcinelle and other unusual visitors.

Some reasons to be cheerful…………

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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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