Sept 18, 2012. Aix-en-Provence and the Invisible Fight

This was our second to last day in France, so we did what we could to take advantage of what little time we had left.  From our hotel base in Arles, we drove out to the town of Aix-En-Provence.  It is a city-commune in southern France, some 30 km (19 mi) north of Marseille. It is in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, in the département of Bouches-du-Rhône, of which it is a subprefecture. The population of Aix is approximately 143,000. Its inhabitants are called Aixois or, less commonly, Aquisextains.

The following is from the Wikipedia article on Aix-En-Provence:

Aix is often referred to as the city of a thousand fountains.  Among the most notable are the 17th century Fontaine des Quatre Dauphins (Fountain of the Four Dolphins) in the Quartier Mazarin, designed by Jean-Claude Rambot, and three of the fountains down the central Cours Mirabeau: At the top, a 19th century fountain depicts the “good king” René holding the Muscat grapes that he introduced to Provence in the 15th century; halfway down is a natural hot water fountain (34 °C), covered in moss, dating back to the Romans; and at the bottom at la Rotonde, the hub of modern Aix, stands a monumental fountain from 1860 beneath three giant statues representing art, justice and agriculture. In the older part of Aix, there are also fountains of note in the Place d’Albertas and the Place des Trois-Ormeaux.

La Rotonde

Before we set out on the day’s exploration, Elaine snapped this great photo of  a rider starting up a vintage Moto Guzzi motorcycle.  What a fine machine, well preserved.  I’m jealous.  I’ve not gone about researching the year and make of the bike, but it’s safe to assume it likely dates back to the 50’s or 60’s.

Classic Moto Guzzi and one Lucky Rider

In order to allow my father to best see the town, we went on one of this mini-trains (open articulated bus) that takes toursists through the narrow windy streets of the town.  Few seats were left and I was squished in the front of the first cabin and could not take any photos.  I had planned to walk around later on and get decent line of sight to do so.

However, not having photographic line of sight proved to be a real disadvantage.   I was not able to shoot the fist fight that took place between our driver and one of the local waiters!  It was spectacular and wildly entertaining.  It all started when the mini-train was blockaded by a delivery truck in front of a cafe.  The driver got out and asked the waiter and drive to move to truck.  The waiter would not comply and the driver said “I’ve got a job to do!”.  The waiter’s angry response was “So do I!”.  Some other heated words were exchanged and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a tray of drinks flying towards the driver.  Seconds later, the beer soaked driver got out of his cabin and a fight ensued.   Dang! I wished I could have videoed this or taken photos, I could barely see anything and had to ask my father what was going on.

Eventually some other waiters pulled apart the driver and his irate assailant and the tour resumed.  The driver shrugged it all of as par for the course in his job.  No police, no lawyers, end of story.  We could learn a lot from the French!

With the day’s entertainment behind us, my brother and I went about on foot to explore the town.

Moss Covered Fountain
Place D’Albertas Courtyard
Pizza as Art

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