Living as Cézanne’s neighbor

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Aix – mon amour! Just when I thought I was not cut out for holidays down south, we encountered this little town. We made our way here with the bus yesterday, listening to Wise Guys songs, only to find the last bus to our airbnb room had already left two hours ago. The nearly three kilometres uphill with our bagagge became a first city tour – and what a buzzing delightful place this is! Literally every square has its own fountain with a mix of young students, Asian tourists and locals sitting around the ripply water. The sun drenched the big tree-lined boulevards as well as the little picturesque streets of the old town that we wandered. Unlike Marseille, Aix-en-Provence seems devoid of big city stress and full of joie de vivre.

We were received by our airbnb host who is very lovely and has provided us with the best room during my trip this far. After a night in a bed that we would fit into even sideways, we found that we stay right next to where famous painter Paul Cézanne used to live and work. We see Mount Saint-Victoire, the motif of many of his paintings, from our window and both his studio and his terrain de peintre are some minutes away. I quickly informed Anna about Cézanne’s life and work during breakfast (thanks to Wikipedia) and we set out to discover his town.

After our Cézanne-seeing, we went downtown and Anna linked arms with me and stated, „You are really good to travel with because you sleep in, you’re relaxed, you don’t have to go to the bathroom a lot but you are never hungry!“ Anna wants to eat every two hours while I didn’t get hungry until five hours after breakfast – a fact that distresses Anna. I conceded to eating crepes with her.

As good tourists, we also visited the tourist office and were surprised to be served by a lady who knew German. She handed us a map in Danish and German (are there that many Danish people visiting?) that among other things offered „Free tours to Sainte-Victoire on foot, by bike or on a donkey“.

In the afternoon, I successfully got Anna into visiting the Art Center showing a Turner exhibition. We marvelled at his colors and tried to make sense of the French explainations. (Reading actually works very well for me.) Unlike Cézanne, Turner was acclaimed already during his lifetime, with Andrew Caldwell calling „his paintbrush magical“. The Art Center was a former palais that was absolutely gorgeous and we also got to watch a movie about Cézanne there as well in their own cinema. The film dramatically recaped what we learned at breakfast (did you know Cézanne was best friends with Emile Zola who also was from Aix?) and ended with Picasso’s quote, „If I know Cézanne? He was my one and only teacher“.

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Anna in the Art Center

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Being a good Catholic, visiting church on Whit Monday, and walking through the Door of Mercy

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In Aix, dachshunds are kindly asked to walk on the right side of the street

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Anna at a random leftover gate

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Why not have a whole laundry rack at your window?

 

In an inspired mood, we ended up at my favorite square (yes, I already have one) and were lucky to get a table at „Chez Jo“ in the evening sun along with a delicious salad and a good pizza. It felt very vacationish! Even this time, our last bus had left early and hitchhiking proved fruitless so we walked up the hill once more. It’s a shame we’re already leaving tomorrow but maybe we’ll come back. I for one have alreadystarted trying to talk Anna into attending l’Université d’Aix!

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