Visit to Aix-En- Provence

Trip Start Apr 03, 2009
Trip End Apr 14, 2009

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Flag of France  , Provence,
Thursday, April 9, 2009

After staying up until well after 1 a.m. chatting online with Michael's nephew Darrow and sister Jane via Skype, the Globetrotters were tired and ended up sleeping in until almost 10:00 this morning! Not again! We ate a light breakfast, then before we knew it, Jean was in the kitchen preparing lunch. 

Michael had mentioned that he wanted to try bouliabase, a soup prepared with fresh fish, mussels, vegetables and a delicious broth. But before the soup was ready, the aroma of garlic filled the house. Soon Dominique had the patio table set and we were served escargot.    Yes, snails. And they were delicious (see the video).  That was followed with the soup and fresh steamed broccoli. Then, of course, we had dessert, which was a chocolate mousse cake. 

Dominique's parents live only 10 km from the Gignouxs. When we arrived at their house, we were greeted warmly by their black sheepdog mix named Tara (just like the house in "Gone With the Wind"). We entered their cute little cottage-style home, and immediately Bernard invited Michael into his "man cave," where all of his military paraphernalia is displayed (see the video). In addition to all of the photos and artifacts in Bernard's cave, he also has a 100-year-old collection of miniature soldiers of Napoleon's army (I can't believe we didn't take a picture!). Not only that, he also has an original book of Napoleon's journal entries, which was published by Napoleon's secretary a few years after his death. Really interesting stuff! Our visit was quite nice.  Everyone except me enjoyed Bernard's super-strong coffee and fresh pastries from Morocco, courtesy of their housekeeper. The visit was far too short, but we had to get going because Jean wanted to give us a power tour of Aix en Provence and get back home before the rush hour traffic. 

Aix is a beautiful old town with fountains galore, cobblestone streets and cafes by the hundreds. Once we parked the car, Jean was off on his high-speed walking tour and I was struggling to keep up while snapping some photos. There were so many beautiful and interesting things to see. We stopped at a bookstore for a few keepsakes, then walked over to a lovely cathedral. One of the priests allowed us to enter the private garden for a brief moment to take pictures, then we followed Jean through the narrow streets as he pointed out various things before taking us back to the car. 

The traffic was manageable on the ride back to Coudoux (easy for me to say, since I was napping in the back seat). Dinner consisted of soup from last night, a small pizza and dessert. Oh yes, French bread and wine :) Then Jean and Michael walked down to the church to attend a "Feast of the Last Supper" service. Meanwhile, Dominique and I had a nice time making conversation with help from our French/English dictionary. It is times like these that remind me that people are people, no matter where they are or where they're from. We all have interests and issues, and we simply want to live a good life. 

  We wrapped up the night with an exchange of gifts, which almost brought tears to all of our eyes. It has truly been a pleasure to visit with Jean and Dominique, and Michael and I will always remember their hospitality.
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