Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Little World Views

Here's the original post for today, the delivery having been delayed due to snow...or more like 'due to my wonder of snow'!

You're going to need one of these...

...for next month!

Cards of the Month are out tomorrow!  Stop in to see what's in store for February.

Yours in postal anticipation,

Mardi Meteo

I know I've been a bit inconsistent about posting the Mardi Meteo.  The winter has been so mild that nothing notable here has really struck my fancy. 

But today, my fancy got gobsmacked...as my British friends would say. 

We have snow!

What's that you say?  "That's not very much snow!"  (Is that you, little-sister-in-Minnesota?!)

Let me tell you, for a California girl, snow is snow.  And there's more in the forecast.

Stay tuned as this may be one of those 'double whammy' post days.  I already had a post ready to go and it happens to fit in the schedule of the 'big everything' - and then I awakened to snow! 

Plan to stop back in later today for the real post.

Yours in cashmere and snow boots...('cuz I can't find where I put my down jacket when I moved...errr...last year),

Monday, January 30, 2012

To Market, To Market - Deuxième Partie

...continued from an earlier post...

...Although the Grand Marché has a greater selection of organic produce, it's only up and running three days a week.  So the other days, you'll find my in the petite marché buying my vegetables here...

...and they have the best eggs!  With deep golden-orange yolks - and they actually taste like eggs!

Always friendly and keeping with the seasons, you're likely to have to wait in line a bit to pay for your goods with these good folks...a sign that I'm not the only fan of this family business and its farm. 

Yours in seasonal veggie paradise,

To Market, To Market - Première Partie

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely adore the outdoor markets here.  We have two of them and I live smack-dab between them!  Step out my doorstep in either direction and I'm in one or the other of our lovely marchés in under two minutes....make that one minute when I'm shaking my tail feathers to tick things off of my to-do list!

Here's an example of why I love the markets.  Even vegetables are beautiful to look at and each day is different. 

Stop in later today for a peek at my favorite produce vendors in Le Petit Marché!

à toute à l'heure...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bon Dimanche

This is the last one I'll share of this collection...promise.  I just liked it too much to hold it back.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend - wherever you may be...

Yours in rockin' the cathedral windows,

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Woooohooooo - It's Saturday!

Put your playclothes on and get out there!

Yours in celebration of the weekend,

Friday, January 27, 2012

Little World Views - Part 2

Will you be having sake with that order?

Yours wrapped in seaweed { and soaking in sake ;} as we bring this week to a close,

Little World Views - Part 1

As a child, my school cafeteria served fish on Friday.

As an adult, that 'fish on Friday' thing took on a whole new meaning!

What's your favorite sushi?

Today's post is a two-parter...stop back in for la deuxième partie later today!

to be continued.....

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Little World Views

La Conservatoire Darius Milhaud...  (pronounced "meee-ooooh".  Hey, you in the green chair!  No!  It's not "meeee-owwww."  Settle down over there!)

...is named after the 20th Century composer who was born in Marseille - to parents who lived in Aix en Provence.   He went on to study in Paris and later taught in the United States at Mills College in Oakland, California.  He brought a jazz  and polytonal (expressing more than one key at a time in a given piece) influence into his compositions and is counted among the modernists as a result.

Among his American students:  Dave Brubeck and Burt Bacharach.  (I know, I know.  "But Mills College was a women's college," you're saying.  And you would be right.  It opened its doors to men for graduate school.  Who knew?)

Class dismissed...be cautious as you run through those gates!  They let out directly onto the rue! 

Yours in reflection on one of the local cool cats in music history,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday Window on Provence

A delectable selection of French patisserie...

...in a sushi bar...

...in Marseille.  What's not to love about this place?!

A splash of color for your Wednesday.

Yours in pastry paradise,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Les Pyjamas du Chat*

* The cat's pajamas

These two cuties are exactly that:  the cat's pajamas!
"Why?" you may ask?
Because they are the only cats to which I'm not allergic!

Pajamas aside, they're no ordinary cats. As the French author, Colette, said  
"Il n'y a pas de chat ordinaire**." 
(I wonder if she was allergic?)   

Yours on the mend - and still in my pajamas,

**There are no ordinary cats.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Lundi, Lundi*

*Easily sung to the Mama's and Papa's classic tune, by the way.

In spite of a cold that, after chasing me for a couple of weeks, finally blew by my homeopathic defensive guards left and right, caught up, tackled me and tossed me on the couch where I spent that aforementioned sun-day (a little curtsy, by the way, to the upcoming Super Bowl...about which I have little to no knowledge, but there it is), I'm feeling bright about this start to the week.

I had created a little breathing room for myself this week and hoped it would be a quiet time to chill before work kicks into high gear for the next stretch of months,  but it's weird how the body senses an approaching break and decides to crash.  I'll be taking care in this little retreat.  Perhaps it's good timing after all.

Sending out buckets of flowers to you all to start the week...

Have a lovely one.

Yours in healing (and organizing!) during my few quiet days,

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Soaking Up Sun-day

Bon dimanche!

Morning coffee at Les Deux Garçons

Yours in cappuccino comfort,

Saturday, January 21, 2012


...dinner with a friend at a local haunt.   We caught up over burgers and red wine, and at the end of the meal, I was feeling like I might just manage to face another week...

...of course, the weekend holding Monday at bay will help!

Yours in discovering renewable energy,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dieu Merci C'est Vendredi...*


...'cause this is how I feel as this week comes to a close.

Whew!  Happy Friday.

à demain...feeling a bit more rested I hope!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Little Word Views...and the Mystery Solved!

Our lucky game players yesterday were right on the monnaie (or better yet, 'right on the Monet') with the cloud recognition...but were they in the sky?

Take a closer look...and here's a hint:

...and now the clincher clue:

That's right!  Reflections in the Canal de Provence - flipped!  On the same wander that brought you the Aqueduc Roquefavour, the path edged the canal.

For the past two millennia, there have been countless attempts to bring water to the arid region of Lower Provence.  Roman generals, medieval and Renaissance engineers, 19th century entrepreneurs and present day public authorities have all dug canals and raised aqueducts in the pursuit quenching the area's thirst.

Of all these achievements, the Canal de Provence is one of the most ambitious - not to mention, the most effective.
  In 1957 the city of Marseille, in collaboration with the departments of Var and Bouches-du-Rhône, established a new authority to manage and distribute the precious resource.  They recognized that water was the key to the area's economic development and developed a plan and system to make it plentiful and available all through the year.

More than half a century and 2 billion Euros investment later, the Canal de Provence delivers water to more than 2 million people in 110 towns and villages; 6,000 farms with a total of 45,000 irrigated hectares, and 500 factories large and small*.

This vast network of canals, tunnels and aqueducts, runs for close to 700 kilometres from Gréoux-les-Bains to the water reservoirs in the Marseille, Aix and Toulon areas.

Thanks for playing.  You can pick up your parting gift at the door on the way out.  [You know I'm kidding here, right?!  :]

Yours in watery reflection,

*Stats and research from ITER Organization

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday Window on Provence

What have we here?

A touch of impressionism?  A throwback to the pictorial style?  

What say you?  What is this?  

Yours in the mystery,

If you plan to order January's cards of the month, get to it!  A new selection goes up 1 February!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Of Decisive Moments in Black and White

Les Soldes, Hiver 2012

Henri Cartier-Bresson (one of my photography heroes) called it 'the decisive moment'.

'nuff said.

Yours in black and white bliss,

Monday, January 16, 2012

Faire Le Pont

The French expression, faire le pont*, means "to make the bridge" and refers to the practice of extending a weekend to four days on one side or the other when a holiday happens to fall on a Tuesday or Thursday.  Many of my US readers may be faire-ing le pont today (albeit probably only a three-day bridge) in honor of Martin Luther King Day.  I thought I'd offer a literal bridge of sorts to add to the spirit.

Let's step into this new week with a little winter wander through the Provençale woods around the Roquefavour aqueduct.

This lovely structure was largely inspired by the ancient Pont du Gard aqueduct and is located near the village of Ventabren, not far from Aix en Provence.  It serves as a water passage from the Durance River to Marseille and is part of the Marseille Canal. 

Construction of the project, first proposed in 1835, actually began in 1841 and was completed in 1847.  Its span of 393 meters extends over the valley of the Arc, crossing both the river and the road to Aix-en-Provence Berre and the railway Aix-Rognac.  From this elevated vantage point, you can also see the TGV line (high-speed train), which passes within a half-mile to the east (not in this image, but when you're standing there, the TGV is in clear view.)

In 2005, the Roquefavour aqueduct was recognized as an hisoric monument, which it certainly deserves, wouldn't you agree?

Okay.  Class dismissed. 

Please eat your snacks outside and not at your desks.  See you tomorrow!


* faire le pont à quelqu'un means to help someone get beyond a difficulty.  Seems a fitting aspect to add to celebrate MLK.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Little World Views

As dancing girls entertained, some of their spectators perched in the windows of the cathedral.  They may have had the best seats in town.

Bon dimanche...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bring On The Dancing Girls

When we left our Epiphany celebration, the music had started

Then the dancing girls took to the stage...along with their partners...and proceeded to dance out an elaborate fight scene! 

All's fair in love and ... err ... dance.  Check out the Provençale version of the Maori War Dance...

...and curtsy, stage left...

May your weekend be conflict free!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Little World Views - Les Oratoires

When wandering around the sweet ville of Aix en Provence (and other villes in this fine region), you might often see a little niche perched high up on a corner or face of a building housing a saint or protector, like the one in this image.

Les Oratoires, or the oratories (from the Latin, to pray), began to pop up at the end of the Middle Ages to serve as places where people could ask God for protection of their families, their homes, their harvests, their country, their town population, their travelers or fellow citizens against illness, plague, accidents, drought, death of animals or natural disasters.  They also served as places where people could offer thanks for healing that had been bestowed.

Back in the day, each disaster was considered to be punishment from God.  When the churches were closed, the people stayed home, but at their window - or nearby - were  les oratoires (illuminated at dusk to offer 7/24 comfort) where the faithful could collect their thoughts and their wishes and send up prayers that they might be protected through whatever challenge they faced.

Aix en Provence heads the list as the town with the most oratoires, coming in at around ninety.  Their numbers flourished during the Baroque period (17th and 18th centuries).  During the French Revolution, many were destroyed and it wasn't until the 19th century that they began being restored and their residents returned to their rightful niches.

Some are technically designated to protect the buildings while others are assigned to protect the population...and so far, I can't tell one from another.  But I like that they are there.

Happy Friday!  13 is a lucky number in France!


*a curtsy to the Aix Office de Tourisme for the information on Les Oratoires.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Note To Self...

...I keep thinking that my little French life would be much more fun easier if I had one of these...

Of course, the images in my head include me zipping around, fashionable scarf tied around my neck with a casual European flair.  Lifted by the breeze, the pastel-toned silk blows frivolously and trails behind (under my helmet, of course) as I pick up speed...then I think of Isador Duncan and that image dissolves in a quick poof!

No, I'd probably be more like Popeye's Olive Oyl, all arms and legs trying to look cool as I maneuver through the round-a-bouts, a tad too timid to be skillful...which would lead to a bit of yelping at near-misses ... and bugs in my teeth each time I opened my mouth to yelp.

I think I'll just stick to collecting images like this and enjoying my daydreams about how cool I might be if I had a Vespa scooter.

Yeah.  That's the ticket.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wednesday Window on Provence

May your mid-week day be filled with music.  
(Not to mention someone to hold it for you if there are simply too many notes!)

A blog-world pal near Paris is doing a give-away!  Her blog is delightful and a 'must-read' for the inside story and countless tips on how French women of a certain age maintain their lovely French-ness!  Take a peek.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mardi Meteo

Our majestic St. Saveur Cathedral (in front of which, all of the festivities took place during Sunday's celebration of Epiphany) is a landmark and anchor in our sweet ville.

A bit of a hodge-podge, this lovely structure.  Built originally on the site of a Roman forum from the first century, it became an 'extreme makeover' project from the 12th to the 19th century with bits and pieces cobbled together from Romanesque, Gothic and Neo-Gothic styles - not to mention the Roman columns from the early Christians of the 6th century.  One might call this a 'rich' architectural history.

Rich, as well, are the legends that swirl around the place.  With a swanky original address along the ancient Roman road, Via Aurelia, the first structue is reported to have been built smack dab on top of a Roman temple dedicated to Apollo.  When the Christians came along, they added their own twist to the ongoing history, claiming that the first church on the site was founded by St. Maximinus of Aix, who arrived in Provence from Palestine with Mary Magdalene and company...in Lazarus' boat.  (You may remember this group from this adventure...followed closely by this one.)

Check out that bain de soleil!  It appears that the sun will be shining as brightly today as it did on Sunday afternoon.  Temps in the mid-50s.  Mistral seems to have lost its frosty breath for the time being.  It's all good.  And you?  What's happening in your 'hood?


* literally:  bath of sunshine (usually referring to sunbathing)

The first four card selections are still available here.  
The January selection is available here.  More to come!  Wait 'til you see!

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Times They Are A-Changin'

With a little curtsy to Bob Dylan for the lead-in to this post, this week I bring you the 2012 Epiphany parade in Aix. 

Of course, as you know, in the Christian tradition, Epiphany is the celebration of the three wise men/kings (whom I always referred to, when I was little, as "the three kings from orientare".  I wasn't familiar with musical phrasing yet and I really didn't understand where they were from in the first place...but I digress...) make the journey to Bethlehem bearing gifts for the newborn Jesus. 

But of course this is France.  So here are two of our three wise men (or should I say 'wise guys') out and about during a break.  One is munching on a crêpe (which is a wise move - they're delicious here! Perhaps he has another in his pocket to offer to the baby he's headed to see...) and the other, bringing a uniquely French flair to his portrayal by carrying a man-bag.  That must be where he's storing his gift.

Have a great start to your week!


Sunday, January 08, 2012

Sunday Morning Times

...as in New York Times. 

My favorite way to spend a Sunday morning:  a big bowl of strong café au lait and the paper. 

Our version of the NY Times here is the International Herald Tribune, which I occasionally buy at this very kiosk just to get ink on my fingers and enjoy the smell of paper.  Most of my Times reading happens in front of the computer screen these days.  Pity, really...but for the few trees saved by my online reading. 

I much prefer the charm of the ritual:  wandering down to the local kiosk as sweet aromas of warm, yeasty bread waft from the nearby boulangerie; having a brief exchange with the vendeur - usually about the weather; tucking my newspaper under my arm as I find a spot in the morning sunshine at the café in the Place de la Mairie; and finally place my order with the black and white-garbed garçon who whisks by my table, tray held shoulder high.

With the paper opened up in front of me, strong frangrant steam rising from the café that the waiter just set down on the table, I'm settled in for the morning.

Ahhhh...it's Sunday.

Bon dimanche à tous!

ps:  a recent comment indicates the text is coming through as black in the new look.  is that happening for other people, too?  let me know as it should be loading in a lighter color...easier on the eyes!

The January Cards of the Month are up!  Take a peek and order yours here.

Little World Views...Paris

Wishing you a sweet Saturday!  (nope, not in Paris at the moment...but a girl can dream!)

Bear with me as I do a little renovation on the blog...and please let me know your thoughts in the process!  Thanks...for both.
bon weekend!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Party's Over...

 The charming little chateaux that lined the Cours Mirabeau are being tucked away in Père Nöel's workshop for another year.  The merry-making has slowed to a low murmur and I imagine most of us are sending out a sigh of relief.  One can take only so much joy before we need a bit of a breather, non?

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Little World Views

I thought I'd share with you the other end of my little rue...to offer a bit of balance from the first glimpse you had.  Buckled walls, a crazy quilt of windows, doorways that range from rustic to magnificent...you'll find it all right here.

At the far end of this view, on the right-hand side of the street, a plaque commemorates the place where a few French citoyens* were killed in the foyer of the building during the German occupation of Aix.  And that's just a recent brush stroke of history!  I've heard that my building was built in the 17th century and housed sheep in what is now the little courtyard.  Imagine the stories embedded in these walls.  Somehow I feel myself to be a very small part of something much bigger here.

All through town, sturdy but irregular buildings stand shoulder to shoulder and watch my passage as I wander in their canyons.  I feel safe under their constant regard.  Perhaps familiar is a better word.  Some of the challenges I've experienced in this settling process have certainly brought me to my knees, and yet, this place still speaks to my soul.  I'm not sure it speaks French when engaged in those 'soul chats', but it definitely makes itself understood:  It's going to be alright.  You're supposed to be here.  Wait and see...  

And so I do...

Bien à toi,

* citizen

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Monday, January 02, 2012

La Fourchette's Cards of the Month - January 2012

I'm so pleased with the response to the launch of the cards!

This month, the card theme is a bit of a curtsy to welcome in the new year.

During the coldest stretch in the winter season...

...one year passes into another...

...in a transition that takes place during the darkest moments of the night...

...and is welcomed with great fanfare...

...a brand new year is born!

If you fancy celebrating your new year with a set of cards, ordering just got easier!  PayPal is available for easy payment and if you have a PayPal account, as soon as you tap in your password information, the rest of the process loads in English!  Whew!

If you'd rather pay by credit card without the PayPal process, that is now possible!  Just send me an email at la.fourchette [at] gmail.com and we'll set up a time to do a credit card transaction by telephone - at no charge to you for the call!

Now two ways to purchase your first set of cards for 2012!

Meilleurs voeux pour la nouvelle année - to you and yours from La Fourchette.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Bonne Année à Tous!

Sending all good wishes your way that this brand new baby year might unfold in magical ways for you all. 

May our creative spirits soar. 

May our minds courageously wander into undiscovered corners of our beings so we might know ourselves just a little bit better.

May we embrace the idea, as each day begins, that "peace within" is the imperative step before we can create it in bigger spaces.

May we send a little love each and every day toward some part of ourselves that we try to keep hidden or exiled because we don't like it or we think it's not good enough.  

As each day unfolds, may we find ways to see the highest in one another and be respectful to our fellow planet-sharers...even when we disagree.

Let's make the most of this brand new year - starting today!


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