It is not cheating. Besides, I’ve never been to China, where all the X’s reside (and you thought all my exes lived in Texas…)
So, first a little history lesson. Aix was founded in 123 BC by Sextius Calvinus, who gave his name to its springs. A few years later, in 102 BC, its neighborhood was the scene of a big battle. In 477 AD it was occupied by the Visigoths. And then the town was repeatedly plundered by other groups and tribes, and it wasn’t until after the 12th century that Aix settled down and became a place for art and learning.
Finally, in the late 15th century, Aix and the rest of Provence became part of France.
I traveled to Aix on my own. It was the summer I returned to Switzerland, in 1981, and accepted a job as an au pair (nanny) to a totally undisciplined two-year-old. Two days later I received a job offer to work and teach at an exclusive boarding school somewhere near Gstaad. Yes, it would have been incredible, well-paid, perhaps even life-changing. But I’d told this couple I’d work for them and I was a woman of my word. So many times during that summer I wished I wasn’t.
Anyway, before I started working for them, I took a weekend and traveled by train from Geneva. I stopped in Aix because even then I loved all things Provence: fields of lavender, soupeaupistou, pastis……
The Cours Mirabeau is a wide thoroughfare, bordered by fine houses and decorated by fountains. It follows the line of the old city wall and divides the town into two sections. The new town extends to the south and west; the old town, with its wide but irregular streets and its old mansions dating from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, lies to the north. Along this avenue is the Deux Garçons, the most famous brasserie in Aix. Built in 1792, some of its more famous patrons have been Paul Cezanne, Emile Zola, and Ernest Hemingway.
Aix! Just say “X.” We’re almost done with the A to Z Challenge. I’ll showcase “Y” and “Z” on Monday and Tuesday.
It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen Paris. When I look at these photographs, I’m transported back in time. Walking around the city with a paper map in one hand. Envying the French women and their style, so effortless. The scent of buttery croissants. Ghosts of Victor Hugo, Ernest Hemingway, Maurice Chevalier. Painters. Gypsies. Tourists. Lovers.
Notre-Dame Cathedral (above). The ubiquitous Eiffel Tower (below).
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” (E. Hemingway)
And to end with a video. Here is a Spaniard (Julio Iglesias) singing a song about the sea (La Mer), better known to many of you as “Beyond the Sea,” sung by Bobby Darin. This is from 1976, hence the disco vibe. I love it, but then, I belong to a different time.