15 Apr 2008

A Week in Provence

And so at the end of a week in Bize, we packed up the two cars and headed over to the little village of Bouc-Bel-Air, a few kilometres south of Aix-en-Provence where they’d booked a lovely little villa with a pool. The weather didn’t get warm enough for swimming, and the pool water was pretty cold anyway.
The reason this area was chosen because Morgan [my oldest niece] had a one week camp at the nearby IBS School (The International Bilingual School of Provence) as she will be coming to France to start full time there later in the year. So this was a spring camp to get a feel for the place.
It’s a lovely school, located out in the fields on the outskirts of Aix, with a truly international group of students.
And Sage, the middle daughter, attended in the mornings and did maths and French. In the afternoons the Sage and Indigo, the youngest, attended a week of tennis lessons – so this week was for the kids.
Sage and Morgan - sampling tapenade......
Between picking up and dropping off duties, we did manage to get out and about on short trips – a sightseeing trip to the lovely village of Ventabren which is close to the Aqueduct de Roquefavour – the biggest of its sort in the world. The Canal de Marseille passes over it. It’s pretty amazing standing below and looking upwards – it’s enormous.

And of course we had a few wanders around beautiful Aix.
On the first evening, Indigo and Sage had a go on the trampoline bungee thing just off the main square – they certainly had fun.
On the Saturday we headed down to Marseille for lunch and a bit of sightseeing. What a huge city – we only had a bit of a wander in the old port area, but managed a fair bit of unplanned driving in a very busy ‘down town’ area.
Lunch was at a recommended restaurant in an out-of-the-way part of the old port area – the Pizzeria Jeannot. Worth the effort in finding the place – the kids had pizza – the best they said. I had what I think is probably the second best piece of steak I’ve ever had (cooked over wood).
And the round bit in the photo is a bit of a treat – I had to get Sage to help me with the French/English translation on the menu. ‘Soft bone’ she said. Bone marrow. Yikes – I didn’t eat it, but Duff gave it a go.
Nic had what she reckons is the best deep fried baby squid (and given that our dad was a fisherman – we’ve certainly eaten some squid in our time ….) and Duff had some pretty amazing pieces of bbq lamb. So a successful lunch indeed.

And then up the hill to visit the famous basilica, Notre-Dame de la Garde, which has 360 degree views of Marseille. We were nearly blown away up there – the wind had been blowing fiercely all day and it was really felt that high up.
Our last day – Sunday – we headed east to take a look at Mount Sainte-Victoire – the mountain that is depicted in many of Paul Cezanne’s paintings – he lived nearby in Aix.
All the kids are into their dance lessons in Canada – they love it. At the drop of the hat, they’re happy to do a show!
This one is Indigo – who did a bit of Highland Dancing – and did a great job with the music that was at hand!


And Sage has done a bit of ‘dance improvisation’ – and here, ironically, is using the music from Bananas in Pyjamas (an Australian kids’ TV show/book series).



Even though the kids have all lived in Australia at some stage, their accents now are totally Canadian. Sage was trying to speak with an Australian accent – but I think she’s been watching too many British movies!


And so on Monday, a trip down to Marseille Airport in the two cars – Nic and the kids back to Canada. And then I was to drop Duff at the Aix en Provence new TGV rail station. But my GPS software is a now rather out of date I guess, and I couldn’t seem to find it. So needless to say, we ended up in the backstreets of outer Marseille suburbs, asking directions.
And then I had to head home, via Montpellier Ikea for a few bits and pieces. But I missed a motorway turn, and ended up back at Marseille Airport before I could right things, and then there was a roadblock and once again I ended up in the back of beyond. So a fairly hectic start to my return trip!
Lovely break, fabulous catching up with the family – but very reassuring to feel good about coming ‘home’. So perhaps I will be here for some time…….
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