provence: aix-en-provence

Joey came home from work yesterday and said, "You updated your blog!"  Then he frowned and said, "You went from Paris straight to Des Moines."

Write. Your. Own. Blog.

So I'll go back to Paris, where early Sunday morning Joey, Sujata, and I caught the high-speed train to Aix-en-Provence (pronounced "X").  While hurrying through the train station, my sweet husband rolled his suitcase over my sandal and the strap snapped.  My favorite travel shoes, the most comfortable, the most versatile, and most importantly, my only pair of travel shoes were immediately shot.  I flipped out but we were late so with a huff I shuffled my dangling shoe hurriedly to our train.

Joey and Sujata outside the train station in Paris.  Sujata dubbed Joey, "Gay Don Johnson," or "GDJ" for short, to show her fondness for his jacket.
The train was full of colorful characters, including an unsolicited translation of "ham and cheese" from a guy who then deliberately sat on Joey's hand and a woman who squatted in front of our seats.  Don't worry if this has you raising an eyebrow and thinking, "WTF?"  We couldn't explain it either, but by the time the lady squatted (she even put her arms out in front of her to balance), we were laughing so hard we had doubled over in tears.  Then Sujata and I spent the rest of the four-hour trip torturing Joey with girl talk.  Craig/Tex better watch out: I'm pretty sure Joey's still plotting his revenge for ditching him with the two of us for five days.

Our plan was to rent a car at the train station and take day trips from our cottage right outside Aix-en-Provence.  Unfortunately almost everything in France closes on Sunday, including the car rental (who vacations on Sunday, seriously?), so we had to wait an hour for the proprietor of our cottage to pick us up (the high speed train station is situated a several kilometers from town).  In the meantime we entertained ourselves with perverse translations on the train station restaurant menu.  "Salty softness," anyone? (Or a quiche, same thing.)

Finally, Nathalie picked us up and drove us through the gorgeous, rolling, bright green and limestone foothills to Aix-en-Provence.  She dropped us off at the breathtaking La Rotonde fountain, which also happened to be the beginning of the outdoor market, and arranged to return in a few hours to take us to her cottage.  While I waddled in my broken shoe and took a thousand pictures, Joey and Sujata shopped.  They bought fresh bread, homemade sausages, cheese and raspberry jam, ripe peaches and figs.  They even found white truffles.

La Rotonde fountain in Aix-en-Provence

It was markedly hotter than Paris, so after sweating through the market we proceeded to cool off with some pastis for Joey and Sujata and local rose for me.  Then we had to try some ice cream on our way to the little grocery store where we found an entire wall of wine under eight euro.  Amazing.  The three of us left with seven bottles and a bottle of Ricard, among a few other essential items, and slowly meandered back to our pick-up point.  In the meantime we tried to tour the inside of a church, which quickly proved a bad idea with our wine bottles clanging together louder than the bells.  We giggled our way to the fountain.
Upon our arrival at our cottage, we were all thrilled to find it clean and bright and nestled in the most gorgeous valley of Montagne Sainte-Victoire with an incredible view and even more incredible sunset.  That night we feasted on our purchases from the market followed by homemade, white truffle gnocchi.  And several bottles of wine.  I believe the French have a saying about living life like that. Joie de vivre, amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment