Day two of our staycation started with a bang. Literally. We were woken at 7.00 a.m. by a thunderstorm so loud and violent that I reverted to my six-year-old self, pulling the covers over my head and reminding myself again and again, “The thunder can’t hurt you, the thunder can’t hurt you.” I have never in my life experienced such violent storms as I have since I moved here.
There was one bolt of lightning that lit up our room, even with the shutters closed, and whose impact could be felt throughout the whole house, making the windows shake in their frames. It was so close that we ran to the window to open the shutters and check for damages, expecting a smoking crater where our garden used to be. The garden was intact, though underwater. It was pouring sheets of rain, which, sadly, you can’t really get the full effect of in these pictures, though you can see how soaked the property was. It knocked our power out all morning, and by the time it came back on, it was time to leave for lunch.
Lunch was in La Tour d’Aigues at the home of Johann’s best friend’s parents. Yannick and Laetitia were visiting from Lille and had very kindly invited us to join them, along with Yannick’s mother and stepfather, for lunch. Lunch at their (Loulette and Guy’s) house is always a treat. She’s a wonderful cook and always goes the extra mile to make sure every detail is absolutely perfect. I don’t think I’ve ever had cheese at their house that wasn’t served on a bed of fresh grape leaves that she picked herself.
The menu included cold green vegetable soup, sliced white summer truffles (!) on fougasse (a rich, buttery pastry/bread), sliced melon, wild boar (which Guy had roasted on a spit), ratatouille, cheese and a light dessert of ice cream with thin almond cookies and homemade strawberry sauce. This was all served with Champagne and rosé, until after the meal, when Guy broke out his stock of homemade liqueurs, including one made with apricots we had given them.
He explained the process of making the liqueurs to us. The final step is to cut the mixture with water until its potency isn’t lethal. “First you add some water and taste it. If it’s still too strong, you add some more water. If it’s still to strong, you add some more water. If it’s still too strong, well, then you have to start again tomorrow, because by this time you’ll need to go to bed.” By now, the weather had cleared up considerably and it was sunny and warm. Laetitia and I lounged in chairs near the pool, making plans for a day at the spa later this week, while Johann and Yannick took a dip in the pool. All too soon, it was time for Yannick and Laetitia to leave, as they had a 5:20 train to catch back to Lille.
We then headed for Aix, with the intention of visiting the Musée Granet’s Picasso exhibit. Unfortunately, though the museum was open until 7:00 p.m., they stopped selling tickets at 5:30, so we couldn’t get in. So we shelved that plan and went to our favorite people-watching café on the Cours Mirabeau. There was lots of action, even for a summer night on Aix’s busiest avenue. Along one side of the plane-tree-shaded street a market had been set up, selling lavender, honey, soaps, jewelry, clothing and artwork of all kinds, including a local photographer who sold prints of his pictures of the region. (Scott, those small prints pictured went for €40 each! You need to get over here.)
Then we went to a sushi restaurant whose dining room was formerly a wine cellar but had been transformed with the help of lots of paper lanterns, cushy grey velvet pillows and candles. The final stop was the Renoir theater, to see Johnny Depp and Marion Cotillard in Public Enemies. Highly recommended.
Again, more pics of day two of our Staycation are at right under “Photos.”