AIX en Provence

What a city! I happened to arrive during a music festival of 2014 when the whole city comes to life with a celebration of classical music. There are two particular moments that have made a strong impression and I dearly cherish.

Schubert in the courtyard – a roof made of leaves, a Steinway to top it off and bring the atmosphere to life with lieder sung by sopranos and baritones. The leaves rustled in a light breezer which only helped to further bring to life the beautiful lieder of Schubert. This was truly a magical evening, with the cobblestones still singing and sun-kissed as shadows stretched into twilight and the heat began to subside. What a night.

Opera under the stars… with good acoustics! Often a rare and wild combination to ever attain, yet here is was perfect. Rossini’s ‘Il Turco in Italia’ – the orchestra, lighting and soloists all perfectly balanced. It was truly a performance to be commended on both the quality of the piece performed and in the convergence of all elements. The audience was buzzing as we all walked out through the doors and through the Medieval courtyard, with centuries old cobblestones, on our way back to separate lives and individual experience.

The most wonderful part about these festivals, and particular classical music as it is so universally known, is the sense of community that unfolds throughout the duration of a truly special and unique shared experience. From the moment that the music begins we, the audience, are transported somewhere beautiful and somewhere that cannot be replicated through television, phones or computers… We are enabled to simply be and to breath entirely in the present moment. We become aware of how we react to this intrusion into the now – yes intrusion, for we are often so focused on the alternate realities of past and future that a grounding into the present moment always seems to shock and startle us into our bodies.

Sometimes we realise that we haven’t been here for a while, in the present that is, and it’s hard to stay centred and focused. But with a little time, and also with the realisation that we are not alone in these sentiments, there is settling and peace in the culmination of past and future self to entirely form and shape a present experience. It is through moments such as these that our life can be changed forever and truly embellish something beautiful – a healthy and empowered way of living that is not defined by where we have come from or where we are going, but simply who we are, completely and entirely now.

This was a spectacular few days spent in AIX and I would highly recommend this region to anyone in want to music, culture, art, easy connection to nature, and good food!

Central walkway of Aix
The streets of Aix by sunset
Wine vines on the balcony outside my room in Aix. Each year they make a few bottles from the garden and balcony grapes. Not a bad kitchen garden alternative!
The impossible blue door
Courtyard outside a beautiful museum
My vine covered dinner spot before seeing a performance of Schubert’s lieder in one of the many beautiful ancient courtyards in the city of AIX. Soft mid-summer winds rustled the leaves growing over buildings. It felt like there was magic in the air.
Afternoon pick-me-up following hours of walking under the sun
Beautiful courtyard in the mid-afternoon sun…
…plus cake!
The weekend markets with French and produce from the regions surrounding Aix
Lavender fields of the Luberon Valley – there will be a whole post on these soon!

July 2014; AIX en Provence, France

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