Joining the Anglo American Group of Provence was a wise move. Twice a week we met at a café called “Crochetoufle” where we had the covered garden to ourselves. A Frenchman arrived from Marseilles once a week and always sat by me. We talked non-stop in French until after several weeks someone said to me, “Esmé, his firm pays for him to come here to learn to speak English.”
Life was varied with many options. We visited museums, followed in the footsteps of Cezanne, made a garden outside the Cathedral, and visited interesting places such as the kitchens that made the sweets called “Calissons”, for which Aix is famous.
Of course I joined the lunch club! I could write a book about that! I’ll just tell you about two memorable occasions. We ate at “Le Cours” (The Courtyard) The stone walls were painted white and round them hung wicker bird cages each containing a white dove. Between the bird cages hung silver washing lines draped in exotic undergarments all in white. For example lace trimmed pantaloons!
On our Queen’s birthday the celebration was planned by one of my friends, a famous black model. She was married to an estate agent who had just sold a large house. They made enough profit from that one sale to take a year off from work! I digress, she asked the ladies to wear a hat. When she arrived she was carrying several hat boxes and changed hats frequently during the meal!
Did I contribute anything during my stay in Aix? Well, with two others we set up an English library. The Maire let us have a large room rent free and in return we let the university students use it. As our customers drove many kilometres to borrow books I made pretty tablecloths from Provencal fabric and we served tea or coffee . It was a popular rendez-vous and a very lively scene. As my husband rightly said, “You can do what you want to do.”
Enjoy doing just that in February,