French Films to Enjoy

Browsing in an English charity shop, I came across ‘Mississippi Mermaid’, a film from the 60s by Francois Truffault.  It tells the story of a bachelor in la Reunion played by Jean-Paul Belmondo.  Lonely, he advertises for a prospective marriage partner and eagerly rushes to greet the Mississippi, the boat bringing her to the island.  Enter Catherine Deneuve.

The pair find themselves travelling to France, where they decide to stay in Aix! Continue Reading »

Bilingual Comedian in Aix

Paul Taylor, a popular British/Irish comedian who performs mainly in France, has a show in Aix next week.

At the Pasino, 25th November, 20.30.  Tickets from 26 euros.  Lots of video streams via Google if you  want to check him out first.  Thanks to Sophie for the heads-up on this one.

The Birdwatcher’s Wife

As January 1st 2019 dawned, St Remy-resident Ralph Padgett, was brimful of enthusiasm for a very special challenge: he planned to spend the year spotting 200 birds in France.  Having given his wife Gayle solid support for her year researching and writing ‘Passion for Provence’, charting the American couple’s establishment of their new French life, now he was asking for solid support for his project.

Gayle writes: ‘ I envisioned staying in charming inns, enjoying gastronomic delights and sipping local wines. I’d roam quaint villages, find inventive artisans and discover unusual festivals’. Markets and spas were on her agenda too.

But were these places that birds hang out?  Or do they gravitate to sewage treatment plants, landfill sites, marshes or wind-swept mountain sides.

Living near the Carmargue, home was a good place to start, and the first month went so well with 76 birds spotted;  but of course these were the easiest to see, and as the months rolled by, the challenge grew as the more secretive species were sought.  The couple visited  the Pyrenees, St Jean de Lux, Aix, Barcelonette, the Cote d’Azur as well as Erquy in the north.

So…did Gayle find charming inns and markets?  And did Ralph track down 200 of his feathered friends?

‘The Birdwatcher’s Wife’ is a fascinating mix of travelogue and the hidden world of birdwatchers.  I think it would make an interesting and welcome Christmas present for Francophiles and nature-lovers alike.

Now available in bookstores and also online at Amazon, print and Kindle.

A visit to Les Carrieres de Lumieres is a must for art-lovers in Provence.  The disused quarry walls provide a brilliant backdrop for projecting massive paintings simultaneously in a head-spinning display, accompanied by specially-chosen music which can add another layer of meaning.

The themes this year, 2021 to Jan 16 2022, are Cézanne for the 30 minute programme, with Kandinsky for the shorter session.


Looking forward to the Cézanne, I was amazed that it was the Kandinsky show that blew my socks off.  His brightly coloured abstract motifs whirled out of their frames, spinning across the rough surfaces like constellations. Continue Reading »

It’s sad to see well-loved local businesses succumb to various pressures and cease trading.  Thanks to Susan Gish for flagging these three up to Aixcentric. Continue Reading »

Here’s an idea for a splendid day out in Provence right now – the tourists have in the main gone home and there are still sunny days to enjoy.

Boating on the lower gorges du Verdon isn’t as well known as Lac St Croix but all the better for that in terms of easy parking and access to boats.  And it’s very beautiful.

Continue Reading »

It’s hard to believe but it’s ten years since Aixcentric began: Continue Reading »

Delighted to say that my book Aix-en-Provence The Inside Story is being re-issued, brought up to date and now in colour throughout.  It ‘s 8 years since it was first published and I believe I am right in saying that it’s still the only book to cover the story of this fascinating town in English.

Where to buy it:  from http://www.lulu.com if you aren’t in Aix; but if you are, you can pick up a copy from Book-in-Bar in rue Joseph Cabassol. https://www.bookinbar.com/  Copies will be available from next week – call 04 42 26 60 07 to check.

It just remains to wish you all a happy and healthy summer as Aixcentric takes its annual break!







La Madeleine, Aix’s largest church, closed in 2007 for much-needed renovations.  When I visited prior to this, it was gloomy, criss-crossed with cracks, and smelled fusty.  The work was due to be finished by 2014, but is still closed. I had wondered when walking past what was holding things up.  It seems not much, literally. Continue Reading »

Model villages have long fascinated children: les petits-enfants Aixcentric all love a trip to Bekonscot, the world’s first ever miniature village, which preserves views of English life in the thirties.

Now lucky French families can see the entire Cote d’Azur laid out before them, from Marseille to Nice, taking in the calanques and Saint Tropez en route, at Mini World Cote d’Azur.

The scenarios include tiny people as well as cars and trains that whizz around.  And state-of-the-art technology is used to involve sound, lighting effects, even smell.

The attraction is 10 mins drive from Toulon centre-ville, off the A57.  Open daily during school holidays; other opening times are at:  https://miniworldcotedazur.com/la-cote-dazur-en-miniature/#

Thanks to Julia for the heads-up on this attraction.