Sunday, June 09, 2013

Colors of Provence

I got back yesterday from a two-day jaunt to Aix-en-Provence to Cote-Sud Vivre salon which was terrific.
I booked my last-minute accomodation through AIRBnBHave you tried them? Quite an experience.
They are serious about the Bee in their name. My room, in a beautifully decorated apartment in the historic section (deep, going through an endless maze to find it in the blistering heat) of Aix - my petite chambre/room was full of BEES! I kid you not. 
And the windows were closed. Why not let the bees find another place to sleep or was I sharing? Did my hostess forget to mention it? During the night a neighbor's cat came in the window for a nap on my bed. Shouldn't I have gotten a discount? I much prefer a chat to bees as a room mate anytime ahem. So BEE it.
The little adventures of traveling. You just never know. It's all part of the fun oui?
What really hit home were the brilliant colors everywhere in Aix.
Naturally I brought my Paris black to wear = All wrong in Provence.
I'll do a post on what YOU should wear dear PBers. When in Rome.
There is a flower market and a vegetable market on Saturday.
Both are an utter delight. Just get out early by 8am before the hoards of tourist groups hit the cobblestones. Maybe like Bayeux it's way better to go during the week? 
So many yummy shops painted in brick red and yellow ochre.
tres charmante oldie-worldie cafes to hang out in.
And endless regional delights as well..endless. Calissons d'Aix is top of the list, made of almond paste and melon-flavored.
My little box says I must eat the contents before 12/5/14. I misread that as 12/6/13. Being semi-dyslexic has it's advantages. I woofed down my delicious quartet of Calissons.
Such beautiful heads of garlic in the marché. none of which I brought home since I still have garlic from the Agricultural Fair in March.
I did buy irresistible sun-dried tomatoes. The seller said to reconstitute in water and then olive oil, but I love the way they look as is. It can get blistering hot in Aix. Bring your parasols PBers unless you like having sunstroke which doesn't agree with all of us.
Here's the instructions my host sent to help find my lodgings in the old town.
How to get from TGV Aix-en-Provence to XXX's Apartment From TGV station:
Catch Navette (shuttle) to Gare Routiere.
Note: The Gare Routiere bus stop is in a new location while the old bus station is being renovated. The navette will drop you at the number 11 stop next to the Hotel d’Police (Police Station). You are now on Avenue de l’Europe but there are no signs.
Walk up the hill, past Rue des Xllumettes and the bus information office on your left. Continue walking past all the bus stops until you get to the round-about at Square El Xadate, then turn left into Avenue des Belges. Again, at the time of writing this, there are no street signposts due to renovation work.
Follow the Avenue des Belges to the large fountain at the large round-about in the Place de Gaulle.
(I loved this next instruction!!)
*You will see a small group of trees on your left and if you wish, you can detour to the Tourist Office in the low building on the plaza behind the trees. (How did I never find the tourist office?)
To continue, cross rue Bonaparte and follow the round-about where you will see the Le Festival Cafe. (Oh sure)
Turn left here at Place Jeanne d’Arc and you will see a small street called Rue Espariate leading into the old city.
Once again there is renovation work and the signs may be hard to find.
If in doubt ask a local shop keeper for directions. (Hahahaha)
Follow Rue Xspariate (the streets are now well signposted) and then turn left into Rue Xedarrides. Follow along and turn left into Rue X Foch and follow to large old arch and clock tower that is attached to the Hotel d’Ville. Continue through the arch into Rue Gaston de Xaporta. Continue along and look for the Xstienne de Saint-Jean Museum on the left and just next to this you will see a small side street called Rue des Xremondis.
Turn left into this street and you will come to Rue de l’XXX, turn right and then immediately on the left you will see a low iron fence with gate. Enter here into the small courtyard and you will see the flat between X and X.
(Some names have been changed to protect the innocent...)
Bonne Chance PBers
Next time I'll try couch surfing.


  1. Foodwalker3:29 AM

    I can't believe those instructions??
    Like one isn't wiped out from traveling upon arrival as it did you ever find the Bee hive?
    LOVE your colors?

    1. Very simple. I looked on Google maps and decided to take the main drag not the scenic route - it was still scenic. After all this is Aix!
      Just TWO streets and hang a right and I was there. as it was you could have scraped me off the floor from the heat and getting up at 4am not to miss my 7am TGV train.
      I was ready for a transfusion but in the name of blogging and PBers I carried on...

  2. .. wow what an adventure .. if anyone could navigate there, it would be you. I would freak at the bees .. did you get rid of them, or have to "sleep with the bees" ... ???

  3. I wasn't sure what to with The Bees so I went off leaving them to buzz away
    Sadly most of them had committed hari-kari when I got back...
    Next time I'll know better.
    I did leave my door ajar hoping they'd migrate to the living room but...

  4. beautiful blog!
    we are going to paris next week and this blog will help us!

  5. The only way those directions could be worse for me is if the North South East or West had been mentioned..
    Now those are the colors I got to see..your bee is so cute too..
    And when I was in Provenece I never saw black either ..that's why i was so surprised in first reading you that Black is Paris:)
    Love that jean jacket and white dress.. did you see a lot of Linen? And balloon pants etc?
    Loved all that..

  6. Maureen9:04 AM

    Mon Dieu, Carol!

    I would have been screaming for a taxi. I once had to find a half number(a Bis)on a side street off Rue de Passy in the 16th Arrond. where I had rented an apt. Without a taxi I doubt I would ever have made it. Even then, getting into the actual building and navigating the dark hallways with luggage until I triggered a light, was a mini adventure. But anything for Paris right? Was the TGV fabulous? The AVE from Madrid to Seville was the best
    transportation experience I ever had better even than the QEII.

    1. The TGV goes so fast you hardly notice it.
      The scenery is gorge of course
      Yeah arrivals can be a nightmare.
      What did we do before Google?

  7. Air Bee&B, indeed! Glad it all worked out for you. I, too, love the lightweight white dress with the denim jacket. I'm glad you survived the ordeal for the blog. ;) The only way those instructions could have been worse is if they were handwritten by a French person.

    1. The directions were ONE massive paragraph with the French version 1st!? ;(
      Too, too much

  8. The instructions are amazing but you did eventually find it. I remember looking for the tourist office in Aix. The colours of Provence are breath-taking. Your blog truly brightens my early mornings.

  9. Love those apricot and red washes! When you travel, what supplies do you take? Tubes or pans? Carried how? Brushes in brush carrier? loose watercolor paper? butcher's mixing tray? Please show your kit!

  10. Stray cat, bees, heat, no signs. You have a lovely way of turning a phrase. Being semi (very semi)-dyslexic made me laugh.

  11. Calissons d'Aix melon flavored!!!

    1. Cara, Melon flavoring is the traditional 'parfum'
      Amazing I know ;))

  12. I am visiting southern France next Sept and was considering Airbnb, but hesitant now! Be sure to leave feedback for those of us researching it!

    Love your blog and illustrations daily. Always look forward to it.

    1. It was my 1st experience and just 1 night.
      Still AIRBnB is NOT compatible with the iPad or Internet Explorer browsers so it was the dickens to pay. I couldn't have done it without customer support.
      The ad did say there were 3 children though nothing about them turning somersaults upstairs even if very well behaved and nice...
      Read carefully and ask questions.
      For 81€ I would have been better off at a Motel 6 with a desk in the room

  13. cyndi from SD11:45 AM

    Carol,your beautiful blog feeds my soul.
    Your adventures bring back so many memories.Isn't it funny how these crazy European experiences not only make the best stories,but will be treasured in the future (maybe because we survived).
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful life.
    Cyndi from SD

  14. Anonymous11:56 AM

    AirBnb is supposed to be the best of them, but they - the seasonal rental places - are all outrageous and illegal. The problem is that the legal services have bigger fish to fly

  15. Those are the experiences that you remember. Motel 6 would not have been memorable at all. The cat coming in to sleep with you was hilarious! With all the bees I'm surprised you slept at all, I wouldn't have. You are amazing, you even managed to paint for us. Thank you!

    1. At a Motel6 I could paint without worrying and have my own fridge
      Atmospheric decor ain't all it's cracked up to be.

  16. Anonymous1:38 PM

    So full of tidbits...the white parasol was exquisite ....loved the story of the cat since I have five of them...

  17. Anonymous1:46 PM

    Love those apricot and red washes! When you travel, what supplies do you take? Tubes or pans? Carried how? Brushes in brush carrier? loose watercolor paper? butcher's mixing tray? Please show your kit!
    Jeanette, Mistress of Longears

  18. Tomorrows post I promise

  19. Great photos, Carol, I can "see" the heat in your shots!

  20. Well, the colors in both the photos and your paints are splendid to say the least. Wish I could say the same for the bees. While the Gypsy would delight in le chat, I'll give the little buzzers a pass, thank you! A spot on my bucket list -- but I think we'll talk before I ever visit -- just to make certain I don't end up in the same spot!

  21. Carol, how do you find these wonderful getaways?
    (bees excluded on this one!)
    Each one of your posts is wonderful!

  22. Anonymous9:44 PM

    I have been swamped with a consulting job that takes every drop out of my morning, noon and night. But, that doesn't stop me from devouring my 'Paris Breakfast' every day. Thank you for bringing a little 'Paradis de France' my way.
    Warmest wishes,

  23. Anonymous9:46 PM

    love the swatches of watercolor! You are such a master at matching your subjects with just the right watercolors!
    Jerie Artz

    1. Practice
      I did once take a class where we had to color-match using just a red + yellow + blue.
      We would tear a color from a magazine ad and mix away.
      Very good exercise !

  24. Haahaaaa--love the directions: reminds me of VA and NC. "Look for the big boulder and take a left. You can't miss it."

    Love the beautiful colors here. Your notes on what to wear there remind me too of coming south--colors are much different here as well. Bees, though? Yikes.

    1. "Look for the big boulder and take a left. You can't miss it."
      "Look for a clump of bushes on the left"

  25. NataliaR11:22 PM

    Carol, how do you find these wonderful getaways?
    (bees excluded on this one!)
    Each one of your posts is wonderful!

  26. How do I find out about stuff going on?

    I always look in the FREE daily Metro newspapers.
    There was an ad for SALON Cote-Sud Vivre
    I tore it out and put it on the wall and then wrote to them...
    I also photograph any interesting event posters in the Metro - they change them weekly or even daily so you gotta stay on top of it!

  27. Anonymous11:29 PM

    dear Carol, the directions to your AirBnB are absolutely hilarious and how you found the place is truly a miracle! and then to find you were sharing it with BEES! Yikes, such a great story that I'm sure wasn't as much fun experiencing as it is in the telling! Merci beaucoup for your great attitude!
    Have a grand day,

  28. Anonymous11:46 PM

    what an experience, the hilarious directions, the bees, then the cat on the bed ... but I'm sure all the typical Aixe things made up for it.
    and your fab painting captures the colours of Provence. Great post even if it all wasn't as you'd hoped.

  29. Bees in your chambre.
    (Better than bats in the belfry...perhaps).

    Love the total post.

    AirBnB...I wondered! They are based in San Francisco...and it looks like things can go haywire.

    The directions to the and I know sometimes French people can be delusional...these directions are planetary and delusional...and hilarious. a useful word in French (hilarious) also a very useful work in French (meaning kind of...delusional and hilarious and crazy and incredible...said with a rising inflection...)

  30. I love this post!!!
    Just came back from an Airbnb experience in Amsterdam and our appartement was out of the world and the directions were very clear! Yours were really hilarious!!!

  31. You're living the life, Carolg—beeeees and all! xo


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