Postcard From Provence No. 1 – Bonjour!

Bonjour from Aix-en-Provence, also known as Aix-and-Pains, though I don’t know why – maybe because it is hard to find a parking place. But that could be many places, non?

The arbor in the garden of Le Pigonnet hotel, where I stayed in Aix-en-Provence.

I did once park here years ago only to return to the car to find it imprisoned by these scary iron posts that come up out of the sidewalk that you didn’t even know were there, and there is no gettin’ around those suckers. Sucker is French for scary iron post. 

Provence – Le Pigonnet – Rose

My mother and godmother were there, too, and already mad at me because I made them walk forever up a hill to Cezanne’s studio in a heatwave. When they say in French that the walk is un bon dix minutes – good ten minutes – it means, like, an hour. This did not help in any way with the la mere’s mood or the captive car situation.

Lunch on the terrace at Le Pigonnet, Aix-en-Provence

When a policeman approached, I said in my best David-Sadaris-North-Carolina-French, that ma mere est malade, and elle ne peut pas marcher, and we needed to go to le banque, with the unspoken implication that she was going to die if we did not get to le banque to get the money to buy her medicine, hence my unfortunate choice of parking place near le banque. Anyway it worked, or maybe he just wanted me to stop talking. (I get that sometimes) He produced a magic key that retracted said iron posts, and we sailed  into the beautiful Provencal apres-midi.

Man sitting with his feet a funny way, in the garden of Le Pigonnet

Aix has a great market, open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. 

Market day in Aix-en-Provence

Market day in Aix-en-Provence

Market day in Aix-en-Provence

I love the espadrille lady. When I went back on Thursday to buy them as gifts for all and sundry, she wasn’t there. Crushed, and now beset with poor, shoeless relatives and friends.

Market day in Aix-en-Provence


Market day in Aix-en-Provence

Market day in Aix-en-Provence

You could take 20 pictures of soap alone.

Market day in Aix-en-Provence – Soap

Market Day in Aix-en-Provence – soap

You get the idea.

The French definitely get the display idea.

Market Day in Aix-en-Provence – soap

These straw market baskets were, like, three dollars when I first started buying them there. Since then I have spent probably $75 getting them repaired in New York. Why do I do that?

Market day in Aix-en-Provence

I love the music man in the funny hat. He looks happy and sweet. I gave him two euros for the photo. He is probably a marquis and a brain surgeon and has a chateau next door to Valentino.

Does anyone know the name of the instrument he is playing? I didn’t think to ask him.

Oh, see those posts behind him. They are just like the ones that came up out of the sidewalk and imprisoned my voiture.

Provence – Organ Grinder With Funny Hat

Aix-and-Pains is actually very beautiful. “Aix” means water in the Provencal language, and there are lovely fountains throughout the town.

Fountain in Aix-en-Provence

I am here on a painting workshop, which is great fun but actually hard work. I know, tiny violin. Will post again soon when not chasing my palette that has blown across two wheat fields and knocked out two goats and a cow. Meanwhile, check in with me on Instagram, HERE!   A bientot!

Posted in Adventure & Travel, Art, Photography & Culture, Blog, Flowers & Gardens | 28 comments
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28 Responses to: Postcard From Provence No. 1 – Bonjour!

  1. sonya says: gorgeous pictures! looking forward to seeing your workshop results. That might be a hurdy gurdy he's playing.
    May 30, 2014 at 7:49 am
    • Frances says: Thank you, Sonya! And yes it could well be a hurdy-gurdy. He was definitely cranking a wheel of some kind....
      May 30, 2014 at 9:53 am
  2. Lynn Ziglar says: Enjoying an early morning trip to FRANCE. Dick and I have had such good times driving in France over the years. My favorite trips, really!Brings it all back to read and see. send us more and by all means have fun xo L.
    May 30, 2014 at 8:51 am
    • Frances says: So glad to have you along as always, dear Lynn! Thank you so much for writing. xo Frances
      May 30, 2014 at 9:54 am
  3. Cynnie says: I really wanted a pair of those espadrilles.... Bravo on braving the winds, the cows and the aisles of soap~the workshop is developing your skills~thanks for sharing your paintings~ Loved reading about the music man in the funny hat~the "chateau next to Valentino" made me choke on my croissant~it was really green juice, but still~funny, funny!! xoxoxo C And give your cowboy a hug!
    May 30, 2014 at 9:04 am
    • Frances says: Thank you dear Cynnie, and will do. Watch out for those croissant crumbs... xo f
      May 30, 2014 at 9:55 am
  4. Lisa Pessagno says: I am leaving for south of France in 2 weeks I can NOT wait. You have me chomping at the bit now!
    May 30, 2014 at 10:50 am
    • Frances says: Have the best time, Lisa! ... And btw, I find even fewer AmEx accepters than in years before - maybe my imagination - but seems to me now that only hotels and large stores accept AmEx, so be sure you have a Visa or Master Card. Especially true in smaller cities and towns. I have ended up using my Visa debit card, which worked fine. (There was a time when debit cards didn't work well either...)
      May 30, 2014 at 11:06 am
  5. The Water Is Smiling says: I want to be there NOW. The market is so lovely and colorful. Invite me next time. Or don't if you don't want me to show up :) Can't wait to see more of your paintings. xoxo
    May 30, 2014 at 11:38 am
    • Frances says: Thank you Miss Cynthia! And followers of your super-fab blog and Instagram know you've been seeing some pretty great spots yourself! xo
      May 31, 2014 at 3:52 am
  6. Jennifer says: I believe it is is called a Teanola Music Box, which cranks and usues folded, perforated music cards. Gorgeous markets in Aix! We repair the bags because they hold memories of our trips, of course! Cost is immaterial :). Loving your photos so much. xoJennifer
    May 30, 2014 at 11:50 am
    • Frances says: Jennifer, how on earth did you know that?! You win a nickel! Thank you! Lord have mercy there is even a teanola website - here it is: And yes, you are right about repairing those silly bags. It is gratifying to preserve a holder of memories, and in doing so the memory itself, especially in an era where so much is disposable.
      May 31, 2014 at 4:04 am
  7. Alexis says: Love this post Frances! Those feet under the table had me in stitches..
    May 30, 2014 at 12:22 pm
    • Frances says: Thank you precious girl. I'm so glad someone else thought the feet were funny. And they stayed like that forever. They somehow made him look like a giant 5-year-old. xox
      May 31, 2014 at 4:06 am
  8. Leslie in Little Rock says: How wonderful! The picture are sunshine to my rainy day! I woud happily replace the complaining mom on a trip to Provence! My dream trip! It reminds me of the time we took my 6 year old Claire to Disney World in August and she was crying because it was so dang hot!! (of course). And I said,"Stop crying! You're in Disney world!" I have since learned that one can feel bad in any setting, no matter how beautiful. I can't wait to see your paintings, that is if the goats or cows don't get them. I will be following! A bientot-xo! Have a great time.
    May 30, 2014 at 12:23 pm
    • Frances says: Oh thank you dear Leslie! It is always good to hear from you. I hope little Claire was able to cool off and put her happy face back on...;)
      May 31, 2014 at 4:14 am
  9. Cathy Mitchum says: Simply Beautiful... Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to seeing much more!!!
    May 30, 2014 at 1:19 pm
    • Frances says: Thank you, Cathy!
      May 31, 2014 at 4:14 am
  10. Harriett Northcutt says: What great memories I have of staying with my daughter at Le Pigonnet. Something similar happened to our car outside Orvieto. Not paying any attention to the signs around, like who reads Italian, we arrived hours later to many fines plastered over our windshield. Evidently, cars had to be moved by noon- which cost us a small fortune!!
    May 30, 2014 at 3:42 pm
    • Frances says: OY exactly! what the guidebooks don't tell you... Thank you for writing, Harriett! FS
      May 30, 2014 at 6:50 pm
  11. Patrice A. Mitsos says: I am envious of you. It's been ages since I've been to Aix - en - Provence. However, I did live in Paris for a year, and have visited France multiple times...just not Aix. I love your photos....I long for their countryside.
    May 30, 2014 at 11:57 pm
    • Frances says: Ah Patrice - to live in Paris - that is a dream - good for you. There is something wonderful about the countryside, too. Maybe that will be your next trip!
      May 31, 2014 at 4:15 am
  12. Maureen says: Absolutely lovely. Brings back wonderful memories.
    May 31, 2014 at 1:37 pm
    • Frances says: Thank you Maureen! It is heartening to have so many fellow Francophiles out there! xo Frances
      May 31, 2014 at 1:55 pm
  13. lissy parker says: OMG! You do have the best job ever! How many straw bags did you buy? Those espadrilles are the Best—need all of them in an 8.5. Have a wonderful time in France! xo, lissy
    June 1, 2014 at 7:28 pm
    • Frances says: Thank you Miss Lissy and I wish I could say shoes on the way. Sadly when I went back to get them for the children the next market day, she had gone! Say hello to Cashiers for me! xox F
      June 5, 2014 at 2:40 pm
  14. Linda Dabney says: Your trip sounds glorious. I love the colorful market days. Years ago when I went to Cezanne's studio, I asked who was smart enough to save this treasure. The answer was a group of Americans, seemed as though the guide didn't want to give the credit. Sometimes the French have an elastic memory...this way and that. XO, Linda
    June 14, 2014 at 2:54 pm
    • Frances says: Dear Linda! Tu as raison! X!
      June 14, 2014 at 3:51 pm