Monday, September 17, 2007

Journées de Patrimoine

Alas, not a whole lotta cookin’ has been going on chez La Fourchette...a stir-fry here and there, another Tarte Tatin (or two! I’m really into that right now! The neighbors are going to start getting little plates of Tarte Tatin any day now!)

The weather is warm enough to still be sitting out in the courtyard with my morning coffee and my daily fix of the New York Times online followed by a little reading aloud of an article or two from Le Monde or the French Reuters. (That would be with the dictionary close at hand for those of you who like to give me more language credit than I possess.)

This past weekend, though, was a festive one. T’was the annual Journées de Patrimoine or basically, a weekend of activities centered around the cultural heritage of Aix en Provence and its surrounding villages. Since I do not yet have a car figured out, I was happy that there was plenty to do “en ville” (in town). Museums were opened, concerts were played, there was dancing in the streets and a fair of any and all associations available in Aix that lined Cours Mirabeau for all of us to consider our options of activities for “la rentrée”. "La rentrée" is serious business here...literally! It is about getting back to business (and school) after a month of summer vacation (the standard amount of time that French workers get for summer break.) It seems to be a time of reflection and re-grouping similar to the new year in which one might make resolutions for taking up a new hobby and getting one's act together. From AA to Zen meditation, there was something for everyone at tables set up along both sides of the main drag through town. Me, I was taken by the photo association...and the dance lessons...tango or swing...not sure which, but it sounds like fun, non?

For the most part, I simply enjoyed wandering around town to see what was going on behind some of the garden walls...or to imagine what may be going on...or in some of the big "hotels particuliers" where one can step back into history and view magnificent trompe l'oeil (trick of the eye)...or take in a concert of Vivaldi, Bach and Gilles played under the grand arches of Aix's Cathedrale St. Saveur. Come to think of it, no wonder there was not much cooking going on! Too much to see and do outside of the kitchen this week!

Today’s offering is an invitation for a bit of a wander with me through the streets of Aix on the way to an afternoon concert and a peek at the things that caught my attention.

Put on a pair of comfy walking shoes...or simply grab a cup of tea and get your scroll finger toned up for a little tour.

On the way to Parc Jourdan with Bodhi, I was captured by the light on the wall of the music conservatory in the Mazarine fact, if you look straight down the street you'll see College Mignet, the Junior High/High School level school in this neighborhood. Cezanne when to school here. So did his buddy, Emile Zola. And so does my young friend, Daniel!

I always wonder what is behind doors...or windows...or garden walls...and if those walls could talk...oh my...imagine the stories locked in those stones...I do!

Trompe l'oeil, or "trick of the eye" are little treasures found all over town. Here's an example on the wall outside one of the cinema houses:

But there was no time to was on to Parc Jourdan with an impatient puppy!

On the way back from the park, although the number of vendors along Cours Mirabeau was nothing new to see, there were some dancers and traditionally dressed folks that happily for me, got caught in my shutter.

Perhaps it was the focus on the cultural heritage, but I noticed a heightened sensitivity to all the things that I pass by and through each and every day.

As I strolled along the little streets behind Cours Mirabeau, I was impressed by how much work has been done on Place Albertas! Months of scaffolding and cleaning and refurbishing is beginning to show nicely.

On the way up to the concert at the cathedral, the sign through the arch of the clock tower at the Place Hotel de Ville looked brighter and came out from hiding to partake in the festivities of the weekend.

L’ Hôtel de Châteaurenard was opened for the weekend's events. The paintings in trompe l'oeil were done by Jean Daret in 1654. The scenes represent a mix of themes both classic and dreamlike.

Astronomy is represented here:

And here, Logic along with Mercury:

Along the way, there was a stop into the garden of a little gallery just on this side of the cathedral. A lovely, shady place that I dip into as often as I can just to breathe in the cool green of this sweet quiet space.

Across from the cathedral, a few doppelgangers from times past were hanging around the Political Sciences building looking for trouble...or maybe just a larger audience before they began their performance!

Once at the cathedral, I was delighted to discover the magnificent doors had been uncovered and their exquisite detail was available for viewing. But I was not alone in my interest and or delight, so most of my photos have crowds of tour groups in them. The solution: get a little abstract! A piece of the door and a few of its guardians!

And once inside, the concert was wonderful! Imagine...if these walls could talk!

If it seems like this is a little love letter to Aix, well...I'm okay with that...I guess we've got that kind of thing going on. It may well be the first of many.

I'll get back into the kitchen next week...the seasons are changing the market is squeezing out the last of the tomatoes and peaches and melons. Check in next week to see what's next on those market tables!


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