Sunday, March 1, 2015


When I first started thinking about moving to France, I thought I would like to live in Aix-en-Provence. I didn't really know anything about France, but I had heard stories about the beauty and tranquility that can be found in the South. However, as things progressed, my opportunity to live in France landed me in the forest just outside of Paris. It is beautiful here, and I am grateful for this experience, but last weekend I finally had the chance to travel south and see what I had dreamt about for years.... Aix-en-Provence.

It was everything I had imagined and then some! The weather was warm and sunny. The people were kind and generous. The atmosphere was calm and relaxed, and I had time to simply enjoy all of these things.

As a true foodie, I managed to eat my way around the city, doing plenty of sightseeing along the way. My first morning I found a delightful patisserie that was very reminiscent of a Denver coffee shop, and it was just a few steps away from my hotel, so this became my morning hangout. The baristas were friendly, the pastries were delicious and it was a great atmosphere for some quiet morning reflections.

The best almond croissant I've ever had!
 I was fascinated by the creativity of the various flower and herb gardens I saw around the city. I'm definitely copying this when I have a place to call my own again.

Creative gardening
Before I went down to Aix, I was connected with several "friends-of-friends". One of the best surprises was the couple who own a delicious shwarma shop - La Goullette. I was told by a friend to stop by and order a specific sandwich that's named after him. I assumed I'd get a good sandwich, but I also made new friends. After lunch, they insisted that I stay for tea, and then they joined me every day for some sightseeing and each afternoon we did a little language exchange conversation - French, Arabic and English.

Tunisian mint tea
Aix is known for it's many open-air markets. There is one that supposedly has been open every single day for the past 700 years!! And don't even think about trying to get a spot to sell your wares, as they are handed down amongst family from one generation to the next.
Cheese, cheese and more cheese!
One of the many things I love about France are the plates du fromage et charcuterie. After a day of tasting my way around the city, I wasn't really hungry for dinner, but needed to eat something.  This was the perfect conclusion to the day.

Cheese, meat, salad, bread and wine - the perfect dinner
After all of the grey days this winter, it was wonderful to be in the warm sunshine and surrounded by rainbows of color at the flower markets. I was so tempted to by myself some fresh flowers, but I decided they wouldn't travel well.

This reminded me of Seattle's Pikes Place Market
Aix has so many beautiful fountains. You can find one in nearly every square and intersection. Some were funny sculptures with water shooting out, others where serious pillars of granite with cascades of water, but this one caught my eye.... It was a big ball of ferns and moss with this sweet little spurt of water bubbling up from the inside and quietly dripping down the sides.

The food in France is delicious, but one thing I've missed has been the organic, local, vegetarian, natural food scene from Denver and Boulder. So maybe in addition to being a foodie I'm also a little bit of a hippy.... Anyway, one of my new friends in Aix recommended this delightful epicerie - the woman buys her ingredients at the market each morning and then creates beautiful meals that are organic, vegetarian, gluten-free, and so good! I arrived late in the afternoon and these were her "left-overs" from the day. 
Sweet potato quiche, lentils, herb potatoes, and a beet, carrot salad
 I am so thankful that I hired a guide (yet another friend of a friend) to do a walking tour of the city. We spent two hours roaming all over the medieval parts of the city and I learned so much history and saw things I never would have found on my own. When we finished the tour we stopped for tea and pastries just as the sky opened up and poured down rain. It rained for the rest of the afternoon, so I took the opportunity to check out one of the museums.
The wind and rain at one of the markets
On my way out of town I made one last stop for one more crepe from this amazing little crepe stand that can be found under ground at the edge of this fountain.

All of the people who said I would love Aix were right - this city has captured a little piece of my heart and resonated with my soul. I felt at home here. It is a beautiful, interesting city where nobody seemed to be in a hurry, but instead everyone seemed to be intentionally enjoying life.... or maybe this was simply me projecting my personal joy and contentment onto my surroundings. Whatever the case may be, I am grateful for this adventure and the beauty I experienced.

1 comment:

  1. I feel refreshed just having read about this and looking at your gorgeous pictures!