Aix'd from Provence to a Nice beach, by a not so Arles-y trains.
|Aix at Night|
The next day was spent walking around Aix. With only one night in each town (and already booked in other hotel) we didn't want to waste much time. Aix itself is quite small, and we managed to get around to all the things on the short list. However, because it is the off-season, many places were closed for lunch (which is at least 2 hours long).
The morning was spent in the heart of old Aix, along the Cours Mirabeau and its many fountains, the eclectic Cathedrale St. Sauveur (on the Roman Via Aurelia!), various architecturally interesting buildings, and breakfast in a cafe (of course). Cours Mirabeau - German winter market without snow but with caissons; Fountains - lacking in the water department; Cathedrale - additions through the 6th - 16th centuries; cafe - overrated.
The afternoon we trundled up a hill and passed by the Mausoleum of Joseph Sec, Therme Sextius, the Atelier Cezanne, and the Grand Theatre du Provence. The Mausoleum had 6 statues - identified by Matt as Noah, David and Goliath, and Aaron (bro o' Mose'); there were also three unidentified women, one of which was driving a nail into a guys skull… awesome! Therme Sextius is an old Roman bath built over a hot spring, and now caters to late-stage doyennes in bathrobes. Cezanne's workshop was closing for lunch as we arrived, and as we are 1) cheap and 2) impatient, we decided to forgo seeing the place where he mixed paints. I hear the Louvre has some of his pictures of art. The Grand Theatre is modern, and spade like a snails shell. We walked to the top, and got some nice views of Aix. Then it was off the the train station to wait for the train (which was delayed).
Marseille - the place we were the most and saw the least.
It's uh… got a neat train station. With trees that grow inside. And an airport that is nowhere near Marseille.
Nice - After switching trains in Marseille, we arrived in Nice at 9pm. Walking from the train station to the lost Hotel was sketchbag. Why do 15-23 year old males hang around in groups in doorways? It's just weird. However, we found the hotel, and then slept.
|Nice from Above|
The afternoon found us back in Old Nice, and headed towards an xmas market. This time, there was a skating rink set up (in 15 C weather mind you). Lunch was had, and wandering through pedestrian shopping. We killed a bit more time by sitting in the cafe of breakfast and people watching until our train. Which was late.
Arles - The train from Nice to Marseille was both late and delayed. Which means that we missed the train from Marseille to Arles. So we waited for a while. We arrived at about 10pm, and wandered past shops through the main pedestrian area that was way less sketch than Nice. We'd called ahead, notifying the hotel that we'd be late. They gave us the entry code, and then said we were on the third floor in room three. Upon arrival, we went up to the third floor and saw rooms 12-16. We tried doors, we knocked… nada. One of us got the bright idea to go down to room three and try that door (previously deterred by voices). it opened. It had a bed (or three) and a key. Punked! regardless of whose it was. Obviously it was for us… otherwise thats some interesting housekeeping method. Slept like the dead.
Woke up, still in Arles, and headed for breakfast and then the car pick up. Stupidly going by the Europcar address, we arrived at an abandoned garage. To make matters worse, the actual location was at the opposite end of town. After hiking though a narrow market, that was beside Roman walls, we passed the train station. And a town gate. And a Speedy. Found the Europcar, got the car (Renault Clio) and found parking eventually (hoooweee 1.5 km and Matty and I were already killing each other).
Arles was also the home to Van Gogh for 15 months, and was where he painted Cafe Terrace at Night, Sunflowers, and about 200 other paintings. Apparently he didn't like the place as a whole - but enjoyed parts. Probably on his good days - this was towards the end of his tortured existence. Poor guy. At least he had Gauguin to keep his spirits up. Again, visiting where the artists worked is interesting when reviewing their created image - but to see it, we have to travel to the Netherlands.
|View of/from Baux|
Sorry this blog is becoming Proust-like. I don't have a professional editor to tell me when to stop.