Sunday, April 19, 2009

Aix-en-Provence, Burgundy, and Paris -- October 4 - 23, 2008

As is usual with Blogspot, you can click any of these images for a larger view.

We started our sojourn in France in Aix-en-Provence for a leisurely few days before joining an even more leisurely barge cruise through the Burgundy region. This city was founded by the Romans in 212 BC as Aquae Sextiae, the Waters of Sextius. Our hotel, the Aquabella, is on the site of a Roman bath (hence the name), and the pool area retains some of the original Roman fortifications:

The same tower from the street outside:

The Cathedral Saint-Sauveur, one of the most ancient religious sites in Aix-en-Provence. The baptistry dates from the 4th century, with Roman, Gothic and Baroque additions from the 12th through 17th centuries; the cloister dates from the end of the 12th century.


Aix being an ancient city, a certain amount of street renaming has occurred, but it's nice to see that they retain both the new and the old street names:

Our first ramble of the day took us to the Tapestry Museum, in the place where Napoleon Bonaparte established the 8th cohort of the French Legion of Honor in 1804.

A costume sketch for the Queen of the Night:

Just wandering around Aix, where every turn presents an ancient and charming view:

Cour Mirabeau

A stroll from our hotel to the Cour Mirabeau, the heart of Aix-en-Provence, let us enjoy the architecture of the town still further; notice the iron "birdcage" cupola atop this church, very typical of the region:

Oh, and then there are the patisseries!

Not to mention the farmers' markets, overflowing with beautiful local produce:

Below, at one end of the Cour Mirabeau, a statue of King Rene 1 d'Anjou, upon whose death in 1480 Provence became a part of France:

The Cour Mirabeau

The broad Cour Mirabeau, named for Mirabeau, the champion of all who were persecuted in the town after the French Revolution of 1789, is an avenue laid out in 1651 with a double row of plane trees planted in 1830 along the sides and fountains in the center, which makes it lovely for strolling or having an espresso in a sidewalk cafe, like the famous 18th century Deux Garçons (a favorite of MFK Fisher, Picasso, Sartre, Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Churchill).

The obligatory architectural detail tour

If you know me, you have to know you'd have to put up with some architectural details, especially doors...

The Church of St. John of Malta

The Church of St. John of Malta was built in the second half of the 13th century. It's a fine example of Provençal Gothic, bare, and spare as a Cistercian abbey. Built outside the city walls, it was protector and host to pilgrims and travelers on their way from Italy.

This is the “four dolphin” fountain, dating from 1667, which gives its name to the Place des Quatre Dauphins. It's one of about 23 fountains in Aix, which was, of course, founded here because of the waters.

Paul Cezanne's atelier

Paul Cezanne (1839 - 1906) is the favorite son of Aix-en-Provence, whose landscapes appear in many of his paintings.

This is how his house looked in the days when he occupied it, perched in solitude on a hill out of town:

The town has now caught up to and passed it by, but it's still an elegant and beautiful place:

The Luberon

One afternoon, we took a half-day tour of surrounding villages. I haven't a hope of telling you which photo is of which, so you're free to enjoy the pictures without any educational force-feeding...

Yes, more architectural details

Another of those charming wrought iron cupolas:

The Marquis de Sade

Ah, now this, I do remember! Now owned by Pierre Cardin, this was formerly the home of the Marquis de Sade at La Coste:

It was hosting an outdoor art exhibit when we visited. The piece immediately below is a sculptural rendition of the Marquis himself:

Other sculptures: