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A quick couple of useful links for you or your visitors this summer, providing we can all travel again soon.

From ‘France’ magazine, so these details of ‘new openings’ are from across the country:

https://www.completefrance.com/travel/holiday-ideas/21-travel-experiences-in-france-in-2021-1-6960509

and, thehotelguru.com has listed some lovely places to stay in Provence:

https://www.thehotelguru.com/en-gb/best-hotels/france/provence-towns-and-villages

The oldest chateau in Provence, the Chateau de la Barben, is set to re-open in June after a 30m euro overhaul by its new owner, Vianney d’Alencon. 

Continue Reading »

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. Continue Reading »

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!

…as it always does.  It’s just the perfect backdrop for filming and ‘Les Ombres Rouges‘ is no exception.

Continue Reading »

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. Continue Reading »

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…………

‘1001 Herbes‘ is a new branch of the chain of stores specialising in products based on CBD (cannabinoide), the non-hallucinegenic part of the cannabis plant.  They offer a full range of different oils targeting various stress or anxiety-related issues as well as holistic healthcare…plus you can book in for a massage from one of their specialists.  At 31 rue des Cordeliers. https://www.1001herbes.com. Continue Reading »

In need of exercise?  On 10th April, you can take part in a run around the Orange Velodrome stadium (home to Marseille’s famous l’OM football team) and through  the nearby Centre Commercial Prado.  Do 2, 4, or 8k, either alone, as a family or as part of a team.

Registration is open now. https://www.orangevelodrometrail.com/

 

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Another opportunity to visit the Velodrome comes in June if you’re a Rolling Stones fan: their travelling exhibition ‘Unzipped’ hits town as part of its global tour. It’s previously been seen in London, New York, Chicago and the Netherlands, and after Marseille, goes to Canada.

So what’s there to see?

  • 400 original objects from the band’s personal archive
  • instruments, audiovisual material, diaries, posters and album covers; stage designs, iconic costumes
  • a reconstruction of the band’s first apartment in Edith Grove – this was famed for its utter squalor
  • a recording studio
  • a unique three-dimensional experience of a Stones concert.

June-September 2021.  Here is the website https://rollingstones.com/unzipped-exhibition/ which gives info on the exhibition but hasn’t been updated with the Marseille details. It does though have a video of Mick and Keith reminiscing about life in Edith Grove….

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.