Posted: 2009-07-23

Random Thoughts #6

As you may have guessed, we are enjoying some hot, lazy days in Aix-en-Provence.  One of the reasons that I like Aix is that there are not a million tourist “must-see” things.  When we first arrived in Barcelona in March, I was excited to see and do everything!  By this point in our trip, however, I am happy to take it easy, and if there is a church that I don’t visit, well, so be it.

Aix is such a nice little city for hanging out.  It doesn’t have the frenetic energy of the bigger cities we’ve visited like Paris, Lisbon, Barcelona…  I could easily spend several weeks here having long lunches, strolling the narrow shopping streets, stopping for a beer when it gets too hot to walk any further.  Wait a minute!  I am doing that! 

Aix has its music festival every year in July.  Last weekend, Chad and I went to a concert at the Théâtre du Jeu de Paume.  The 5-person group included a female flamenco singer, flamenco guitar, sitar, viola de gamba, and percussion.  The concert was advertised as Mediterranean sounds with flamenco and hints of persian, indian and arab sounds.  It was very interesting, something that I would not have heard in the States.

Situated on a small street, the theater looks very plain from the outside.  Here’s a shot of the façade:

Doesn’t look like much, does it?  Well, the theater space inside is a jewel.  It’s a small theater, seating 400 or 500 people.  It has 3 balconies plus floor seating.  We were in the first balcony above the ground floor.  Chad didn’t like all of the red - carpet, seats, walls, ceiling - but I liked it.

A view of the stage from our seats - you can kind of see the 5 chairs on the stage for the players

A view of the other balconies from our seats

I’m sure that everyone has heard stories about the snobby French attitude.  Well, I have to tell you that I never experienced it when I lived here, and Chad and I have not experienced it during our current visit.  In fact, everyone we’ve encountered has been so nice - restaurant employees, train conductors, shop salespeople, landlords.  It’s quite surprising, really, considering that we spent several days in Paris (which has the worst reputation) and have visited other sites and cities where you would, at least, expect to find someone at work who was sick and tired of tourists.  Nope.  Everyone has been great. 

Plus, everyone seems to speak at least a little bit of English.  Granted, I always speak French to the person first and try to continue the conversation in French.  But we have had a few people speak to us in English, happy to practice their “foreign” language.  If you’ve ever wanted to travel to France but have been unsure about it, put your worries behind you and just do it!  And if you’re still unsure, I will tell you that our current apartment overlooks a little square where there is a flower market every morning, and an accordion player performs every afternoon.  How French is that?

You may vaguely remember a blog post from Barcelona where I mentioned the bike sharing service.  We have seen this bike sharing in other cities since then.  You pay a loan fee to use a community bicycle for a little while, and then you bring it back to the rack.  Such an excellent idea!  We saw these bikes again in Marseilles yesterday:

In case you missed my blog post yesterday, I have a new haircut!  Here’s a photo:

Finally, I found some photos from Paris that didn’t make it into the blog, yet.  I have added a post to the Paris section.  You can find it here.

-Julia Abbott



Flemenco, sitar, viola da gamba - what a mix of times and geographies!

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