Monday, June 14, 2010

Downtown Aix

I spent most of the weekend bumming around downtown Aix, looking at the architecture, drinking beer, and going to museums.  That is, in between finishing up Jill's ad.  I'm proud of my work, so here's a picture of it.
I got visit the Musée Granet, but couldn't take any pictures of what I saw there because apparently it's forbidden by French law to take pictures in museums, so I learned something new.  Their main exhibition was work by Pierre Alechinsky, and most of the museum space was dedicated to him, although I couldn't help but yawning when I saw his stuff.  I felt like he was a bad combination of Polluck and Cézanne, and I couldn't get into any of his work because I didn't feel like it was something that I hadn't seen before.  I don't know exactly why he is appreciated so much, but I suppose people have their reasons.  Maybe I have bad taste, but I felt like all of his work was the same, and it left me somewhat bored.

Fortunately the museum also had some wonderful neoclassical work that I found immensely interesting.  I admired landscapes in the style of realism, and some of the portraiture was phenomenal.  Most of the work came from the collection of Granet himself, and included a lot of Ingres and Constantin, plus Granet's own work.  There was also a Renoir exhibition, but unfortunately the museum closed just as I found it.  I'll have to go back again soon to see what I missed on the first round.  I did get to see their sculpture exhibition, which was stunning, although I hadn't heard of any of the sculptors prior to seeing their work.

There are many different street performers in downtown Aix: the usual guy who makes spray-paintings, a man selling African wood sculptures, a guy who paints your first name using animals and plants, and musicians.  As I walked down the Rue Mirabeau, I heard Beatles music.  As I continued walking, I saw two Irish-looking guys playing guitars--a two-piece Beatles cover band.  They were actually quite good, and I stayed awhile to listen and take pictures.  Here are some shots I got of them.
They decided to take a break, so I took off down the street.  Aix is called the city of fountains, and is situated on a natural spring.  Jill informed me that it was actually built by the Romans however many centuries ago, primarily for its natural spring water.  Anyways there are fountains all over Aix, and I think there is some kind of tradition where young people jump in the fountains for some purpose.  I'm still trying to figure out this cultural activity, but I've seen quite a few soaking wet people emerge from various fountains around the city.  Right after leaving the band, I spotted this guy in a sort-of bunny costume bathing in one of the fountains.
His friend in the black there was kind enough to keep splashing him as he got out of the water, as they both laughed.  Even though his friend stayed mostly dry, he gave him a hug after they both emerged from the fountain in the middle of a roundabout.

I continued down the street to head to a restaurant that I've been digging.  It's called Les Deux Garçons, and Jill told me that Hemingway used to hang out and write there.  She says that she doesn't like going there because the French mafia runs the place.  They also run all of the nightclubs in Aix, and later Pascal informed me that they run pretty much most of the big bars and restaurants as well.  I was unfazed by these alleged criminal ties, so I sat down with my book of Hemingway short stories, ordered a beer in French, and felt really, really cool.  I free wrote for a little while in my journal, and pretended that I was a great writer, taking in the atmosphere of Aix and composing some great piece of literature.  Well I don't like what I finished with at all, but hell, I just have to keep repeating my new mantra: you have to try.


  1. Is that the same place Jill, Elisabeth, you and I went to when we visited Aix? I loved the French waiter's attitude, completely contemptuous that we had decided to split an order. Mon dieu!

  2. Perhaps the water in the fountains is known to be a "tonic" much like our water here in Hot Springs...people are always jumping into our fountains too, thinking it will do them some good healthwise (other than getting a little cleaner). I'm sure Papa didn't like a lot of what he was free writing at times, but probably it wound up in a few of his novels anyway. Yes, kiddo, try, try again...and again ad infinitum! Your ad is wonderful, although I did have to watch it several times to get all the content because I don't read as fast as the average person, I guess. Makes me want to be part of that "small group of women travelers" though!

  3. I think its a french tradition before you get married to run around the city in a rediculous costume and ask for money for the bachelors party. I saw I guy in waders and a viking get up the other day.