You know life is good when you can eat every meal for three days outside.
This past weekend, I chased the sunshine to the Académie of Aix-Marseille for a visit with two great friends, their friends, and some new Southern cities!
Friday was spent with Caro, who was my guide around Aix. Although she lives in an Alpine (but actually, in the Alps) village, she spends nearly every weekend with friends in the beautiful nearby city of Aix-en-Provence! Our first stop was the daily (or nearly daily) marché, which was full of special Aixois products, like herbs de provence and lavender, and even some lavender cheese (it’s that blue thing behind the saucissons).
We went to the English bookstore for some coffee and book buying and had a delicious (and cheap) Greek lunch. Any menu where you can have two of everything is my kind of menu…
We got a little dessert (une Tropézienne which is like a cream puff) and sat in the park. It was the zennest (note my sleevelessness; it was WARM!).
That evening was picnic number one, where we met up with Leah and Caro’s friends and their visitors. About 20 bottles of Heineken, juice, wine, and some sticks of buttery bread were involved in this apéro picnic, as were “Head’s Up!” and B.S. (the card game).
We picnicked for brunch and dinner the next morning, once in Aix and once in Marseille. In Aix it was Crepes a-go-go, the local takeout crêpe stand. In Marseille, we chose a spot next to the Mediterranean.
Pretty sweet, huh? This was my first-ever glimpse of the Southern coast. Thank goodness I’ll be back in a few weeks for a trip to the islands of Greece!
The last day was Easter Sunday, and our original plan had been to hike up Mt St Victoire, but as it was a holiday AND a Sunday (in France, this means ALL IS CLOSED), the buses were too infrequent. We opted instead for a luxurious picnic in a slightly-farther-away park followed by a gym workout. Even the gym in Aix made me feel like I was on vacation. They have special rooms where you can choose a workout instructor video and do a fun step-aerobics class or elliptical training session. Leah and I had fun tripping all over ourselves as we tried so hard to master the routines. After a shower, Leah made us ramen and we headed out to meet the others for a PSG-Marseille football (soccer) game viewing session. The Marseillais were out in full force, so the disappointment was palpable when PSG won…a last night well spent, nonetheless. No casualties.
Southerners have a reputation for being extra relaxed, more superficial, and less warm and welcoming than their Northern counterparts. I didn’t meet enough French people to really confirm or deny that stereotype, but the city itself seemed like a beautiful, shallow, flirtatious girl. It was attractive, but all we really did was eat! Picnicking is the best representation of the culture of Southern France: slow, laid-back, sunny, a perfect activity to do with friends, and gourmand (depending on your alimentation, of course — we opted for rotisserie chicken sandwiches). And when this is your chosen spot…it really can’t go wrong.