Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Provence - Day 1

We flew from different cities to reach Marseille on the same morning. The plan was to then take a rental car from the airport and stay in the town of Aix-en-Provence. We made Aix our home base and made days trips from there. Unlike the last France trip, we did not stayed in a new hotel every night but planned to return every night to Aix. Now, Aix is a town with a long history behind it. But most famously is known as the birth place of the famous painter Paul Cezanne. Aix celebrate its most famous son by creating a trail with medallions engraved on the main streets where Cezanne used to roam in his days. Here is a picture of one of those many medallions laid on the streets: 

Aix is also famous for its hot water spring fountains and its architecture. But in recent times it has become the hub of learning French. It has a couple of universities and many institutes offering French language courses. Hundreds of international students from around the globe come to Aix to study French. So the present Aix looks more like a student town.

From the Marseille airport we drove to Aix but when we reached our hotel just before noon, it was still not ready for check in. So we all decided to head to the city center for lunch. The city center was a pretty crowded and a huge fountain served as a roundabout:

We looked for a decent eating place but ended up walking through the narrow streets of the old city. Finally, we managed our meals and headed back to the hotel. After our check in, we directly left for Cannes. It was around 170 km from Aix. Now, Cannes is a city made more famous by its annual film festival than its history. It is a place for the rich.

Huge buildings overlooking the sea served as holiday apartments for the rich. Big and beautiful hotels with their own private but artificial looking beaches were shining on its main boulevard.

We decided to take a walk along its fashion street full with expensive showrooms and big labels and took a short tour of the main part of the city. There were many showrooms particularly dedicated at serving gourmet chocolates. The temptations ran high and we ended up trying some of them breaking our calorie limits for the day. But it was really worth it !

At the end of the walk, we reached the famous Palais des Festivals where a red carpet was waiting for us. This was the main building where we had often seen the big names from the international film fraternity entering it during the film festivals. Since the festival was over one month back. All we had now were a bunch of over excited tourists clicking pictures as souvenirs from Cannes. How could we be left behind. We all also had a short photo session outside the main door where we had always seen those celebrities going through.

The final verdict of Cannes was that it was a city made famous by good marketing techniques than anything else. It is a place where the rich flaunt their wealth by owning super expensive apartments and holidaying in super expensive hotels.

It was already evening by the time we were finish with the photos. So from there, we decided to head back to Aix. For dinner, we went again to the main city center which was by now spilling over with people since it was Friday night. Its hundreds of eating joints were all almost full. We finally managed to take some tables in a restaurant and after dinner we were all set for some party time !