Monday, April 21, 2008

It occurs to me that I hadn’t told you that I would be gone for a while. It was as though a housemate went away but never said where they were going or when they’d be back. Kelly and I decided to go to Aix-en-Provence for along weekend. Of course, had you become my Facebook friend you would have known this, but you opted to snub me.
We are on the train back- lovely first class seats with plenty of room. It’s a three-hour ride so I should have plenty of time to discuss our trip.

We arrived in Aix Friday evening. I had no perceived notions about the city; there was no planning or researching done. I thought it might be similar to Antibes, a city in southern France that I had been to a few time before- it was not.

Friday night we walked the streets of Aix in the rain, it was cold and quiet. There was no one out- the streets were deserted. If you’ve ever visited a beach community during the off-season you’ll know what I’m talking about. It feels lonely, depressing and the miniature golf parks are all closed. The chipped paint on the abandoned rides and ticket booths reveal the true age of a tired town. That’s what Aix felt like Friday night, it was depressing. Kelly and I walked back to our hotel and wondered if we hadn’t made a terrible mistake.

Saturday the sun shone and life was fine again. We loaded up on café crèmes and excellent croissants and fantasized about living here. We followed Cezanne’s life through the streets finishing with a walk to his studio and a view of Mont Sainte-Victoire, which he painted 39 times. There were no markers for Emile Zola and I wished that I had researched his life a bit more. The food and craft markets were in full swing and I watched a Japanese woman photograph a large loaf of bread much to the amusement of the baker. The rains came later in the evening and we hid in our hotel having learned our lesson.

On Sunday, the only placed closed was the British bookstore. All the museums were open which was great. Again it was a day of walking and pondering whether we wanted to stay here beginning next year. The sale of out house is still up in the air but in the next few weeks we will know if it’s time to go back to the states. It didn’t seem that we would be saving any money by moving to Aix as compared to staying in Paris. Here’s the real problem. After Paris, where do you go? Paris is the pinnacle- it’s the top. It is the “Citizen Cane” of cities- what could Orson Wells have possibly done after that (other than the wine commercials)? We have basically screwed ourselves for any other city.


mindy said...

au contraire, mon frere... have you considered the bouillabaisse that is Marseille: there's some real noise down.

Ok, whadda I know - I don't even live in France, but vive la france regardless!

Andrea said...

Forget about France if you're on a budget or earn weak US dollars (like me). Even small cities like Montpellier are expensive. I was paying 530 per month for 40sqm when I lived there.

I'm moving to Berlin where you can get a 70sqm apartment for 500 euros per month. I can't wait for all the extra euros I'll have to spend each month.

Anonymous said...

Hey, did you see your brother's blog has actually been getting more hits since it closed down?

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Hey, Misplaced, I did 'friend' you on Facebook, but I don't hang out there, hadn't checked your wall or whatever.

Yeah, the only drag about living in Paris: it's so hard to leave, because nothing else compares. 100% of the people I've interviewed (for my semi-dormant "Americans in Paris" project) have said that Paris simply spoils you for any place else, so they find a way to stay --or come back.

Good luck in the decision process.

Karyn said...

Note to self... Aix-En-Provence, Menerbes, Arles, St.Remy first... Paris AFTER.

I live at the beach. I know what you mean about the depressing, hollow, vacant feeling in the cold rainy times.

And hi, who totally friended you on Facebook? Oh right , right... so I was able to start being jealous of your south-of-France trek right away.