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14th May, 2013



We passed the Frioul islands as we approached Marseilles, the smallest of which is the infamous Isle d’If, made famous in ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’. The early morning sun on the light coloured stone of the ‘Chateau’ disguised that threatening facade.

We escaped early and joined the morning tour to Aix-en-Provence, the beautiful town some twenty miles north that was once the home of Paul Cezanne. While the others set off on the walking tour we chose to amble up the main boulevard where a number of stall holders were setting up. Above us the Plane trees were just coming into full leaf and the dappled sunshine was reflected off the weathered sandstone. Water trickled over mossy fountains set here and there while the pavement cafes were already busy with their patrons.


After a coffee we ventured further, taking a small alley, ‘Passage a Gard’, and found on the other side a thriving little market selling all manner of bric-a-brac. Many delightful objects for which one would have no use for whatsoever, although my eye was rather taken with the Samurai sword and the one legged Renaissance style wall table on offer, before ‘discussion’, for just 15 Euros. ‘Where would we put it?’ ……‘What’s that got to do with it?’ I thought.


Further on we passed through arches that beckoned and a labyrinth of narrow streets, where tall apartments hid much of the direct sunlight, coming across a bustling flower market in a small leafy square surrounded by a number of quaint shops. One of particular attraction was ‘La Cure Gourmande’, a biscuit and sweet shop that had obviously been there for many years and which, in hand painted letters on it fascia, stated that it was a ‘Maison de Qualite’. I was not allowed to find out.

After three delightful hours we returned to the busy Place de Rotund to board the coach, stopping on route to purchase a small silk item unlikely to be seen by many others and which was ‘clocked’  by my wife an hour or so before. Yet again I was advised that I have apparently saved money

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