I was cooling my heels on a tufted leather sofa at the Musée Granet in Aix-en-Provence, patiently waiting for Remi and our friends to finish taking in the exhibition of the "Collection Planque." A guest book or livre d'or had been placed close by. A young boy, his head just large enough to peak over the table, studied it carefully. Finally, his Mother placed her hands on his shoulders and asked "Well, what did you like in the exhibition?" He carefully considered, then looked up at her pleadingly. "Tout!" he barked out. "Bon, then that is what you will write." She put her hand over his tiny one, guiding it to make the letters. He hovered over the guest book for some time even after his Mother had walked to the next room. His little body was tense with concentration. When he put down his pen and ran off with an awkward gallop, I got up to see what had been left behind on the page.
"J'aime tout," he had written. "I love everything."
Beneath this victorious statement, he had signed his name, Erwan and drawn what appears to be a leopard-print bus. A boy after my own heart in more ways than one.
I can't help but share Erwan's sentiment each time I stroll through Aix. And strolling is certainly what is required. It is impossible not to take one's time, looking up at hovering stone cherubs and down at potentially treacherous cobblestones. Venetian shutters clank in the breeze and everywhere, the quiet plup-plup of the fountains that have cemented Aix's reputation as the most elegant city in Provence.
So yes, I love everything, from the clock tower hovering over town hall, to shops tempting with Hermès bags or foie gras and truffle macaroons (!). The discovery of a tiny shaded square hidden behind a large hôtel particulier. A vivacious café cultured dominated by the well-heeled. So gorgeous as to be just slightly beyond everyday reality, yet bursting with the jubilant energy of over 40,000 étudiants.
We lunched outside on the Place des Cardeurs, grateful for what very well may have been the last opportunity to do so until next spring. And then we continued on our adventure with me falling behind as usual to take and take and take photos. Thank goodness our wonderful friends are used to it by now!
I'll be quiet so as to let you take your little stroll too. There are no major historical facts to keep in mind. Pas de tout. Aix is simply a feast for the eyes. I just hope that you have as good a time as Erwan and I did.
* I will follow this post with a second but for those of you in the region that have not yet seen the exhibition for the Collection Planque, RUN! GO NOW! YES RIGHT THIS INSTANT! The exhibition has been extended until November 6th, aka this Sunday.
As I am a sweetheart, I will even include a link to the museum's website to help: