Aix-en-Provence, Cezanne’s land

A stop in Aix-en-Provence was Bruce’s idea – he noted it was the home of Cezanne and a nice break in the drive from Switzerland to Spain.

This was our last taste of French food, so we excelled in our orders of steak tartar for me and sausage of strange parts for Bruce. The room swam that night!

We had found a quaint two star hotel in an excellent location, close to Place de Generale de Gaulle. The whole place was abuzz as they were being assessed to be upgraded to three stars. Understandably, service was excellent!

Aix-en-Provence is Cezanne is Aix-en-Provence. The entire city is built around his post-humus presence. Streets and restaurants are named after him and his family. Markers point to his birthplace, where he went to school, where his nanny lived, where he wrote to his son. Thirty-two different points of interest are included in the Walking Tour. Unfortunately, the beautifully laid studs stop and start under the curse of street repairs, so we frequently lost our self-guided tour.

Undoubtedly, the highlight was a drive through Cezanne country where the beautiful, white massif Sainte-Victoire overwhelms all other scenery in the area. We saw it from all sides, all angles and in all sorts of light, and we understood how Cezanne was inspired to paint it in oils 44 times and in water-colours 43 times.

We were also amazed at the massive Roquefavour Aqueduct, the largest stone aqueduct in the world, built in the 1840s. The three tiers of arches are beautifully constructed.

We visited Cezanne’s studio, built on Lauves Hill. He climbed that hill each day to arrive at the northern lit studio at 5:30am and painted until lunch time. In the afternoon he lugged his paints and easels into the country or up to the Painter’s Ground to complete his work “en plein aire”.

As a passionate fresh air painter, it is ironic that getting soaked in a rain storm brought on pleurisy and his death.