The Lou Messugo Blog - life in the south of France from a British/Australian TCK's perspective, bringing you French culture, travel on the Côte d'Azur and beyond, expat issues and a little bit of je ne sais quoi all mixed up with a hefty dose of photography.

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Christmas traditions in Provence - Santons

Posted by on in Provence-Côte d'Azur

Santons, derived from the Provençal word santoun meaning little saint, are small painted clay figurines that are used to decorate Christmas Nativity crèches (cribs) in Provence in South-East France.  If you've spent any time in this area during the festive season you may well have seen them either for sale in Christmas markets or in place on a decorative crèche somewhere. They are very popular collectables, with websites selling them to overseas markets, particularly USA, but they are much more than just tourist trinkets.

santons of provence old couple

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Silent Sunday - 28 September 2014

Posted by on in Sunday Photo

  rosé in supermarket


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Postcards from Aix-en-Provence

Posted by on in Provence-Côte d'Azur

I've just discovered Aix-en-Provence!  After more than 7 years on the Côte d'Azur and having heard only good things about Aix, I can't explain why it took me so long to get to this adorable city. But for whatever hopeless reasons I failed to get there, I have finally rectified the situation and have at last visited this gorgeous, graceful, cultured place.  Aix is artistic and cosmopolitan, bourgeois and yet full of students, urbane, refined and very very beautiful.  

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Aix was founded by the Romans as a spa city, and although water is no longer so vital to its well-being, much of its charm lies in the many fountains found throughout the town.  There are 17 in total ranging from enormous to tiny, ancient to contemporary.  The main street, elegant Cours Mirabeau, separates the old town from the newer (17th century) Quartier Mazarin.  Cours Mirabeau is lined with imposing plane trees (very severely pollarded when I visited) and grand mansions, most of which on the north side are bustling cafés and banks or lawyers' offices on the south. 

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Nowadays Aix has a reputable university and a formidable legal reputation with France's biggest appeals court outside Paris.  It is home to one of the most important classical music festivals in Europe which takes place every summer attracting some of the most reputed musicians in the classical world.  It is also heavily associated with the painter Cézanne who was born, studied and spent much of his life in Aix.

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Aix-en-Provence is small and compact, perfect for walking around, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying its beauty.  There are plenty of lovely cafés to spend time in over a coffee or glass of rosé (from the surrounding vineyards) whether on the elegant Cours Mirabeau or in one of the smaller, tucked away streets in the vieille ville.  There are also several markets for food, flowers, arts and crafts and bric-a brac depending on the day.  It's an easy day trip from Lou Messugo, taking just over an hour and a half from us to the centre of town.  I know I won't wait another 7 years to go back and explore further this totally lovely place; I've fallen completely under its charm and can't wait to return.

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main fountain in Aix en Provence

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I hope you enjoyed this little taster of Aix-en-Provence.  Have you been there?  Would you like to go?


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Aix en Provence France



Wander Mum
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Silent Sunday - 8 June 2014

Posted by on in Sunday Photo

      Aix en Provence


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