Aix-en-Provence, Day Three / Cruise Day Two
Today we visit the home of artist Paul Cézanne. This is amazing for me because many people consider Cezanne to the the founding father of modern art. Cezanne was born, lived, painted, and died here. You can follow his footsteps if you look down on the sidewalk and follow along with the bronze letter C’s embedded in the roads and sidewalks. How amazing it was for me to be here and think about Cézanne walking these very side streets and alleys in the 1800’s. I was lucky enough to stumble upon an exhibit at the Musée Granet while we were here. The Pearlman Collection, featuring Manet, Courbet, Degas, Cézanne, Guaguin, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Modigliani, was a bonus to our plans! (another bonus was that I turned a corner to find an exceptional collection of sculptures and drawings by Alberto Giacometti, one of my favorites) Doug and I visited the museum in lieu of eating lunch. As you can imagine, this would always be my choice, but Doug was a true gentleman to accompany me.
I am sure I could hear his stomach grumbling for the rest of the afternoon.
Art and Architecture
Our guide gave us a wonderful overview of the architectural movements and styles represented in Aix-en-Provence, which is in the South of France. The kids learned about the styles of columns and the metal railing work on balconies. The city was founded in 123 BC by the Romans. Can you even imagine something so old? I don’t think the kids could even wrap their heads around it. After all, even the adults were baffled!
The Open Air Market
There was so much color and energy at the market, we were drawn right in. Fruits, veggies, flowers, and an organ grinder confidently singing to passers by with an infectious smile. In an effort to completely immerse ourselves in the experience, we purchased crusty bread and fresh goat cheese to eat as we walked, and some Herbes de Provence to bring home. (I cannot wait to roast potatoes in the oven with the herbs, to have gotten them from the source was exciting!) I wished I could just sit with a sketchbook and draw these colorful fruits and vegetables overflowing in their bins. BUT time waits for no one, we had a church to explore, and we were warned not to miss the bus!
The church we stumbled upon at the end of the alley was stunning and we were glad to have found it off the path of our tour. As legend would have it, the church was built on top of a Roman temple dedicated to Apollo. It was built and rebuilt from the 12th to the 19th century. The doors that drew me in were commissioned by the cathedral chapter in 1505, and were carved of walnut. It was absolutely stunning and beautiful inside, the organ pipes embellished in green and gold, took my breath away. We walked right up to the alter, the gothic choir, and the 6th century baptistery which featured 8 columns assumed to have come from a Roman temple on the same sight. So much history.
We caught the bus back to the floating city that is our Princess cruise ship by 2:00pm. On the ride home, our guide was kind enough to stop and point out Mont Sainte-Victorie. We exited the bus and were able to view the mountain as Cézanne himself did when he painted it many times. Thanks to his many oil paintings and watercolors of the mountain, Cézanne has become forever associated with it. When people think of Paul Cézanne, his still-lifes of apples and his landscapes depicting Mont Sainte-Victoire are the first to come to mind.
Tomorrow we head off to explore Florence, Italy!
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