Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Les Marchés d’Aix

-->On my last day, I woke up early to head to some of the Tuesday morning markets in Aix. I headed straight for le cours Mirabeau to see the traditional arts and crafts market. At 8:00 am, the vendors were still setting up their tents and placing their wares on display. I was surprised by how many of the shops were selling clothing, shoes, and hats. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against the sale of clothing at a market. I just thought that this market would have more local artisans selling soaps, tapestries, wood carving etc. The environment felt more like a flea market than an artisan market. So, I decided to head off to the Place Richelme to visit their daily produce market. 

The market was much larger than the one I visited in the same place the day before. Some of the vendors were different as well. What surprised me most about the market was how fragrant it was. As I walk through, I smelled the astringent smell of freshly chopped onions, the earthy smell of fresh lettuce, and the familiar smell of herbs de Provence (one of my mother’s favorite spice combinations). I enjoyed watching the vendors set up their beautiful displays of colorful bell peppers, ripe peaches, apricots, and nectarines, bouquets of sunflowers, and various fresh cheeses, eggs, and meat products. The variety of products was overwhelming. Soon, I headed off to the Place des Precheurs and the Place de Verdun to see the markets there as well. 


That square is a bit larger with a produce market near the Eglise de la Madeleine and an artisan market near the Palais de Justice. This market was only about half set up by the time I arrived at 8:15 am or so. The artisan goods vendors were running behind the fruit and vegetable vendors. The view of those colorful awnings (red and yellow striped, blue, white) against the golden yellow of the buildings in that square was so picturesque. I also thought that the one square was called the Place de Pecheurs (as in fishermen), so I was really surprised to see only one fish vendor. I've since realized that the square is named Place de Precheurs (as in preachers). 

Eventually, I made my way back toward the Place Richelme and le Cours Mirabeau for another look around (you know, to check in on the progress of the vendors).

When I originally wrote this post, I was zooming through Provence on the TGV high speed train to Paris. As I looked through the windows of the train, I was amazed by the beauty of the region. I loved looking at those thin, willowy trees (a landscape that has been immortalized by so many impressionist painters). What I didn’t realize as a Yale student was that Provence’s trademark is a range of rocky mountains – the kind where sunlight pools on their crevices at twilight, turning them a peachy pink color. The view from my 3rd floor window in Aix really captured that moment. 

During the remainder of the train ride, I passed by more beautiful countryside including a lavender field (I had always wanted to see a lavender field in France) and fields of tightly clustered sunflowers. They were so close together they look like a floral blanket.

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