Waiting for the bus to Aix en Provence on a gloomy platform. In the middle of the day, it is a vast dark space like a set in search of a horror movie. The waiting room looks slummy, is graffitied and smells like a pissoir. Spooky.
First stop in Aix is for a refreshing drink at a sidewalk bar. Among the thronging crowds in the Cours Mirabeau, we sip a milky, pungent pastis.
Cocktails with Cézanne
That evening, as we take a stroll past the Musee Granet, a departing guest hands us his invitation to cocktails for the opening of the Cézanne exhibition two days later (Collection Planque).
As if we own the place, we walk in among the dignitaries and culturati, me in my cocktail outfit of Dunlop Volleys and frayed Nepalese cut off shorts. Luckily, we have missed the speeches and immediately join the guests tucking in to huge plates of food and generous glasses of red.
Lucy asks what we should say if one of the many security people ask who we are. “I’ll tell them, ‘I’m the cultural attaché from the Orstrylian Ministry of the Yartz!’” I reply.
A maybe see
Paul Cézanne’s Studio is a good walk out of town and visitors can wander around the room where he created his masterpieces.
Preserved pretty much as he left it when he died in 1906, the studio is a big tall space with north-facing ceiling to floor windows. Bits of Cézanne bric-a-brac adorn the walls and some of the items are recognisable from his paintings – of which there are none present.
Worth seeing, but not worth going to see, to paraphrase Sam Johnson.
Restaurant La Medina de Fes, 5 rue Campra, Aix en Provence. This pleasant, cheap and unpretentious Moroccan restaurant is just off the main drag. They serve us delicious couscous and tagine and a stand out marinated artichoke/orange salad. A small bottle of Gris de Gris accompanies the meal – fruity but very dry, from Meknes in Morocco.
Dinner in the apartment
Provencal omelette de Martin. Oeufs, bright yellowy girolles, young purple garlic, EVOO, avec mesclun et vinaigrette. The wine, bought at the local market, is substantial in body, fruity, and slightly petillant. Domaine Vouniere, NV organic merlot, Vin de Pays du Var, €4.50.