Sometimes you actually make something happen that you have been planning and dreaming about. Never give up on that plan.
I don’t know about you but I’m always dreaming up different plans and ideas for the family to action and the majority don’t get off the ground. But on this occasion it did after an article in a magazine about a little village in Provence coupled with a long desire to spend more time in France led us to a decision to up sticks and live in Provence for a year at least. The decision and the French experience led me to write a blog www.mydreamyprovence.com about my experiences. This awoke a creative side and with a new camera in my hand placed firmly on AUTOMATIC, I started to snap away. This, in turn, led to a desire to study photography on my return from our year there.
Come and read my story…
I’m not alone… Aix en Provence is a place people want live. It’s bustling all year round with each season bringing something truly unique. While the city is a tourist trap in the summer months and certainly the most popular time to visit, it is peaceful and atmospheric in the winter where restaurant owners replace the outdoor terraces with an enclosed cosier space to enjoy a chocolate chaud. An almost alpine feel!
People come from all over the world to live and work here and we were another family passing through. Some stay longer and others go after a while but our year gave us a better appreciation of life in France and a lifetime of family memories. There were struggles with the children as they adapted to life at a small, international school, CIPEC, hidden deep in the countryside outside Aix but in the end their experiences were so rich, they overcame their fears and bonded with children from many different cultures. Lessons were split between English & French and all the children played in woods near the little school two or three times a day. The school experience felt a little like going back in time to my youth where their was more freedom for the children.
Aix en Provence balances a rich cultural life along with some of the very best outdoor flower & food markets in the whole of France. Walking through the city is enchanting any time of the year with it’s magnificant historic buildings and architecture and exquisite boutiques and restaurants. A food & shopping lover’s paradise! Cafe culture reigns along the beautiful Bouvelard of the Cours Mirabeau and the pretty maze of streets inside the Roman walls.
Once we finally adapted to daily life we were able to explore a little further. With the Luberon to the North, we regularly visited towns such as Avignon and St Remy de Provence as well pretty little Cassis to the South when the tourists had gone and a swim and a fish lunch was enjoyed alongside the locals. Nice and St Tropez were accessible at weekends and the Southern Alps, which was particularly exciting for me as a skier, were within easy reach.
I joined the International Hiking Club of Provence and walked the Calangues of Marseille, Mt St Victoire in Aix and the hills of the Luberon. The walk always ended at a bistro with wine and plenty of laughter (and relief for surviving the hike). We picked olives in a local farmers field around Christmas followed with a picnic of local ham and pickles and joined a weekly kids french cooking class at L’athelier Mathlide. I also attended cooking classes in local Provencal houses where I met families sharing their traditional cooking techniques. The Patisseries became a little obssesion (there is a cake for every occasion) along with buying scarves and trying to wear them like the chic French women of Provence. We attended French class & wine courses and local festivals and met wonderful locals and ex-pats and learnt about their stories.
Time passed too quickly and we returned to London mainly due to work constraints. In the end making the decision to go was the hardest part. We are so glad we ventured there and we will treasure the memories of our time there as a family forever. I look forward to returning again to take pictures as a professional photographer.
Travel to Aix en Provence via Marseille or Avignon via BA or Easyjet or take the train via Paris to Aix en Provence.
Here are a few special addresses for your notebook:
www.villagallici.com Perfect 5 star
www.maisondauphine.com Perfect rental
www.mydreamyprovence.com My blog
www.perfectlyprovence.co Perfect resource for region
www.lateliercuisinedemathilde.com Fab French cooking classes
www.carrieres-lumieres.com Art gallery
www.mirabeauwine.com Perfect story of a family move to Provence. My favourite wine.
www.maisonweibel.com Exquisite cake & tea and total obsession
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