“Giving Thanks in France in Aix-en-Provence”


Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I took a trip to Aix-en-Provence, a city in the south of France which was founded in 123 BC.  The three hour train ride took me through the beautiful countryside of Provence complete with wine vineyards, rows of lilacs, medieval fortresses, rolling green hills bordered by hedgerows, and sunshine (which I don’t see much of in Paris!!) As the train pulled into Aix, I could see Montagne Sainte-Victoire, one of the famous landmarks which was also the favorite subject of Paul Cezanne’s works.

A 5th century Merovingian baptistery
Saint-Sauveur Cathedrale
5th century Roman frescoe

In the 4th century, when Aix was the capital of Provence, a Merovingian baptistery was built in what is now the Saint-Sauveur Cathedrale.  This baptistery is situated in an octagonal basin surrounded by marble columns and Roman frescos dating back to the 5th century.  On Sunday morning, I had my own private worship time complete with chimming bells in this marvelous cathedrale which has every architectural style represented from the 5th to the 17th centuries.

5th century Saint-Sauveur bapistery
with Roman columns

Aix-en-Provence is a very modern city with all of the conveniences in the city center: shopping, restaurants, movie theaters, and public transportation.  However, it still retains some of its heritage in the older neighborhoods filled with Cathedrales, fountains, thermal Roman baths and museums. I also found a quaint little English bookshop with a reading room, lecture room and café.

Clock Tower
Town Hall Square

As I was walking back through town, I came upon the town square and clock tower which was built in 1756.  I noticed a plaque on the wall of the tower with an American flag on it.  The plaque commemorates the 3rd division of the United States infantry for helping to liberate Provence on the 21st of August, 1944.  The plaque reads, “The doors of the city of Aix-en-Provence  pay homage to soldiers of this glorious unit”, as did I!

Plaque of Honor
August 21, 1944

Copyright 2012 by Robyn Lowrie.  May be quoted in part or full only with attribution to Robyn Lowrie (www.frenchquest.com)