As the temperature continues to climb here, we headed out to explore one of the many towns right at our doorstep. Aix-en-Provence is actually much more than a town. It is a small city housing embassies and a couple of universities. It prides itself on being the more cultivated centre for art and education, in comparison to Marseille. And in many ways it lives up to its reputation. In other’s it is absolutely no different from Marseille. On the outskirts are big box stores like any other city, and in one we went into to look for a tool for Pascal we found car cleaning products with the OM logo all over them. OM is the soccer team of Marseille and you can see people all over the city wearing their blue and white t-shirts, jerseys, pants and caps. Yes for some here soccer is so important that you need to clean your car as an OM fan. Interestingly this set of box stores is open on Sundays because the unions protested for the stores to stay open so that employees can work more. This is such a reversal of the attitudes of many unionized workers here that I can’t help but chuckle a little.
Aix though, has a lovely old town which is closed off to vehicle traffic. A fantastic move to draw the tourists into their history. Here we were able to wander through the multiple markets in many of the different squares and admire the architecture as we went. The educational point of the day was an explanation of why older sections of Mediterranean towns like Aix have narrow streets; it is to block out sunlight and keep the houses cooler in the summer. In addition to admiring the building, local breads and olives, Keith bought a braid of garlic and has made it a goal to have some garlic in every dinner from now on. Don’t worry, I’m well stocked up on mints.
Aix is full of cafes and even on a hot busy Saturday we were able to find a spot to have lunch. Pascal, Jacqueline and I all had the plat du jour, while Keith opted for steak tartare. In the heat of the day sitting on a shady patio with ice cold water and the anticipation of good food with friends cannot be rivalled.
After a lovely lunch, we drove out to the Barrage de Bimont, a damn and reservoir, with glistening blue green water. Overlooking the reservoir is the Sainte Victoire Mountain and a new hiking challenge once the weather cools off a bit. Keith and I were immediately drawn to the topography maps displayed in Aix with the different routes. So once again as we seem to explore more areas around us, we simply seem to encounter more places we must see and things we must do.