Provence for ounce

If you’re going to study abroad in France, one popular destination is
Aix-en-Provence, a small, lively town that contains no less than 3
universities!  Aix has a great deal of medieval charm — its windy
cobblestone streets are the stage to many musicians and performers
during the weekend. One of my favorite memories is seeing a saw
player, a phenomenon which I had only before seen in the bizarre and
delightful French movie “Delicatessen.” There’s something particularly
enchanting about the sweet sound coming out of something that we only
see covered in the dust of the toolshed or in the hands of horror
movie villains.  On the weekends the Aixois turn their town into a
street fair. Traffic is closed on the Cours Mirabeau, a wide street
lined with cafes, and all kinds of French craftsmen and women set up
tents to tantalize passers-by with their wares. Among these you’ll
find cozy (and fashionable!) handmade fleece hats, wooden toys for
children, and lots of creative jewelry. There are also cotton candy
and candied apple carts and, mais bien sur! a carousel just for the
kids. And throughout the year there are many more international
festivals, of theater, dance and music.

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Aix is in the famous southern region of Provence, home to that special
quality of sunlight that gave the Western world some of its loveliest
work of art and gave artists such as Cezanne, Picasso, Matisse, Van
Gogh and Renoir their greatest inspiration. The countryside next to
the Mediterranean is filled with fields of lavender and sunflowers and
the sky is a particularly bright pale blue. Marseille, the second
largest city in France, is also a famous port-town and a worthwhile
neighbor to visit if you’re in the region. You’ll find transportation
around Marseille very easy– but if you stay out too late (i.e., past
12!) you might need to discover the wonders of walking through the
city. With one of the most diverse populations in France, Marseille
makes it easy to grab a sweet hot pink Algerian cookie from a bakery
on the run, or to take your pick of colorful indian cloths at the
market. If you go, don’t miss the Quartier du Panier, the old quarter
of Marseille– its narrow, steep streets are festooned high above with
Monsieur X and Madame Y’s drying underwear and the petit enfants are
running around playing soccer below. Wandering through this fun
neighborhood you’ll run into many artisan shops and finally, into the
Vielle Charite– a former almshouse that is free to enter and walk
around. You’ll be transported back in time into the 17th century and
get lost in a reverie as you look out into the sun-parched pebbles on
the courtyard through the arched doorways. Oh yeah, there’re also a
bunch of museums.

One thing you might want to skip in the Marseille attractions is the
famous and elusive “navettes.” We had heard so much about these
old-fashioned Christmas cookies that one day me and my brother
undertook the long trek to the true home of the treat, called the Four
des Navettes, tucked far down the rue Sainte. Of course, it didn’t
help that we were pretty hungry and that the trek lasted far longer
than we had planned. When we finally got there, the navettes had
become even more legendary in our minds. But we soon found out that

these were old school cookies, as in back-in-the-day-we-called- anything-with-flour-a-cookie old school. The navettes were shaped like small billy clubs and were about as hard, with not much sugar to sweeten the deal. We bought them anyway, and nibbled on them all the way home.

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1 Response to “Provence for ounce”


  1. 1 oshop toko August 28, 2014 at 10:45 pm

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Gulliver helps students Study Abroad. Our blog covers: current issues in Study Abroad; featured posts by Study Abroad students; and Gulliver updates, news, and behind-the-scenes peaks. Thanks for reading!

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