‘Les Calades Provençales’
Renowned for its extraordinary fountains and talented favorite son, Cezanne; Aix-en-Provence manages a lovely blend of enchanting culture, vibrant youth and stimulating history. But wait – the marketplace alone adds a huge dimension to the city, and the restaurants entice you at every bend in the road! We arrived in Aix during the artisan craft fair, “Les Calades Provencales” and were able to meander along the stunning, tree-lined Cours Mirabeau to take in the original works of dozens and dozens of craftsmen and women.
A quiet, personable potter demonstrated ease with his wheel. Bright, hand-painted scarves drifted from canvas awnings. With every turn of the head, we immersed ourselves in this treasury of talent – exotic jewelry, perfumes and ceramics, intricate wood creations and handsome textiles.
We stopped to chat – yes, in halting French but quite adequate – with a lovely young woman with a trés chic array of hand-crafted shoes and sandals. The talented designer, Veronique Baron, epitomized the charming, soft-spoken French woman.
Born in la Drome, Veronique carries on the proud traditions of her father and grandfather. Early on, she designed shoes in her father’s workshop. After earning her degree in shoe design and practicing her talent with freelance work, Veronique realized her dream with the birth of “Dans la garrigue”. In the heart of a sunny pine forest, she creates each shoe and purse, piece by piece in her atelier (workshop).
Isn’t that kind of chance encounter one of the priceless rewards of travel? In the midst of one of the most beautiful cities of France, we made this small connection that added immeasurably to our enjoyment of the artisan fair and the city itself.
Naturally, we needed some time to absorb our experiences and stopped at one of Aix’s many canopied cafes. We capped our lovely adventure with delicious ham and cheese gallettes, salad and pichet of wine with a strolling guitarist to perfect our Aixoise moment.
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