Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

A heads-up that this annual design extravaganza will be taking place in Aix’s Parc Jourdan this weekend.  Over 260 exhibitors will be showing furnishing, fabrics, lighting, brocante, kitchen items, tableware, and all sorts of inspiration for the house and garden.  Also:

  • Special products designed to celebrate this 20 year anniversary
  • ‘La Cuisine en Transmission’ – sessions from leading chefs describing the inspiration they have had from their families and the recipes passed down the generations
  • ‘Coaching Deco’ – 20 min workshops given by stylists who advise on how to ‘reinvent your home’.  Or you can book an individual 1-hr slot for 90€
  • Friday night is late-night (until 23:30) when the whole site will be illuminated – you could dine here too.

Details here: DP-VCS AIX-MARS 2018



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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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Marseille yesterday was strangely quiet with many shops and bars in the Panier closed.  Some had notices saying they were on holiday during January; other people explained that the wind was bad, there were no cruises in on a Tuesday, Mucem is closed on a Tuesday…and so on.

Happily, eventually, the pottery store, Memoire de Terre et Terroirs opposite the docks opened its doors towards mid-day – if you haven’t visited, do, as they  have a great range of Tunisian dishes, serving pots for tagines, jugs, plates at really modest cost.

They come in on the boats opposite, from Nabeul, which is the ceramics capital of the country.  If you like North African tableware, this is recommended.  We came out laden!

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So far, the centre of Aix has seemed busier than ever: we saw lots of visitors at the

The vin chaud is always a crowd-pleaser at the Aix Christmas market

Christmas market last weekend. As ever, the most popular chalets were (more…)

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If you haven’t visited the ‘International Twin Towns Market’ which starts tomorrow, get ready for a treat as it is quite different to the usual Christmas market.  And all I have to say to the Brits is ‘mince pies’!

Our twin town partners from around the world will be present with their local specialities, crafts, Christmas gifts and information about their particular towns.  As the OT explains, ‘it’s an attractive, colourful market, in a welcoming atmosphere where cultural dialogue is the order of the day’.

The German stall is usually brimming with gingerbread goodies but also pretty decorations; the Portugese and Italian stalls have wines, local produce and often pretty pottery, and yes, the ladies from Bath UK bring Christmas cakes and their terrific mince pies (usually gone on the first day!).

It’s all happening on the Allées Provençales, at Place François Villon, times on the poster above.  A lovely multicultural start to Christmas!

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This Sunday (26th) sees the monthly fete in La Canebiere during which this famous street is closed to traffic and open to all manner of animations.

There are market stalls plus food trucks, and games for the little ones.  This attempt to tempt people back into centre ville has been growing in popularity. We have really enjoyed it.  And of course this month there is the Christmas market down at the Vieux Port to add temptation.

A wander along to La Joliette brings you to the newly christened MJ1, the shipping jetty which was so popular during 2013.  It has re-opened with a large selection of photography from the summer show, Les Rencontres d’Arles.  Having missed this, I was happy to go and catch up, but found the selection to be unremittingly dark.

The show begins with photography from the backstreets of Columbia focusing on slums, drug-dealers and prostitutes.  It then moves on to the work of seven photographers, all male, and largely showing distressing subject matter: militants in deserts, the effect of Agent Orange, the experience of one woman refugee in a Libyan camp…. One photographer has made floods his theme, photographing people standing up to their waists in water in areas as diverse as Brazil, Kashmir and the Thames Valley.  All due to climate change – but did he fly round photographing these people?  The quality of the work is amazing, just much of the subject matter depressing.

It’s a great building, good to see it in  use again………..but I would have liked the show to be balanced with some photography which is affectionate or quirky or beautiful.  If you do go to see what you think, it is open weekends so could be combined with the event in La Canebiere. https://mj1.fr/

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Cézanne finds himself marooned between the Foire aux Santons and woolly jumpers at the textile market.

It seems strange having the Christmas markets starting up against such a bright blue sky and warm sun, but there we are – the chalets are built and the children’s rides are already in action at the Rotonde.  This annual activity means that the usual Tues/Thurs/Sat markets have had to be moved.

The textile market is coiled around the big area at the Rotonde, outside the OT, the brocante is on Ave Victor Hugo, both sides, and the food market is in cours Sextius. Not sure where the pottery/jewellery people have gone – couldn’t see them on Saturday.

Here are the dates for the Christmas Markets:

Les Chalets de Noel:  from Wednesday 22 November – 31st December

Foire aux Santons: open now, until 31st December

Les Maneges de Noel:  in action already until 25th December

Marché International des Villes Jumelles: 29 November – 3rd December

Fete de l’Huile d’Olive d’Aix-en-Provence AOP: 9th and 10th December

Marché des 13 Desserts: 16 and 17th December.

I do love the rows of plastic garden chairs for clapped-out parents next to the carousels.

BTW, we found out the hard way that buying vouchers for 10 euros only buys rides on that particular ride, ie they are not redeemable on them all, like at theme parks.  Oh well, we kept them …I hope le petit-fils Aixcentric will enjoy riding round on Lightning McQueen until his mid-teens!



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A New Shopping Experience

I wonder if you recognise this village?

It looks like it could be anywhere in Provence, but in fact it is totally new and home to over 80 top brand boutiques, 7 cafés and a host of customer-friendly services.  McArthurGlen Provence, the ‘village des marques’, which opened in the spring, is at Miramas, an easy 45 minute drive from Aix.

The company has taken enormous efforts to recreate the village aesthetic: the buildings are typical of the area and the cobbled squares  have fountains and pretty plants.  But this village also has:

  • a splendid playground for children

This large playground is well-placed next to one of the cafes

  • babychanging facilities next to sparkling loos
  • huge free car parks
  • free wifi and phone-charge area
  • baby-buggies and wheelchairs
  • multilingual customer service and on-site tax rebates for non-EU shoppers.

Brands include Nike, Levis, Michael Kors, Armani, Diesel, Escada, Calvin Klein, Superdry, Timberland – lots of clothes, shoes and some home & decoration shops.  As it is an outlet, there are good discounts and the company’s web-site has offers (print out vouchers, that sort of thing).

Alongside all of this is a spacious art gallery currently showing ‘Rodin and His Contemporaries’.  The show features eight rare and fine quality Rodin bronzes – including original castings of his most successful work, ‘The Burghers of Calais’, his full-length study of Balzac and his portrait of Victor Hugo. A further 14 iconic bronze sculptures are on display from Rodin’s most celebrated contemporaries, including Aristide Maillol.  This ends September 9th but a new exhibition will be installed for October.

The cafés range from Farinella for Italian dishes, a good patisserie, Dubble Food for salads, smoothies and wraps (all the better to fit in those designer clothes), Bistrot Provence, Burger Federation and Starbucks.

We enjoyed our first visit this week – kids back to school, it was probably quieter than normal, but as the South of France’s first designer outlet, it had a healthy number of shoppers, most returning to cars with lots of smart carrier-bags.

Open: Mon-Sat 10-21:00hrs

Details: https://www.mcarthurglen.com/fr/mcarthurglen-provence/en/


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The latest in the series of ‘Les Dimanches de la Canebiere’ takes place  on Sunday.  These events have been created to bring people back to the town centre and seem to be getting more and more popular.  This time, there will be an Egyptian brunch at Nour d’Egypte while Toinou are offering Plancha de la Mer et Aioli on their terrace – Mediterranean feasts!  Lots of activities for the family too – dance, music, games, market – here’s the press release: Présentation-prog-juin-site-mairie-1-7

We normally park at the MuCEM parking which is really easy on a Sunday.  Here’s the poster for info:


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June is upon us and with it, so much to do. This post will just cover the upcoming weekend….with a listing for the rest of the month to follow. (more…)

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