by Lesley Hall
The Club’s annual tour to our twin city of Aix-en-Provence saw 11 members fly via Marseille to spend a long weekend in and around the city. We received a warm welcome from our old friends from the village clubs of Saint Cannat and Puyricard, where we participated in challenging melées alongside our hosts. Puyricard’s terrain in particular has its own challenges, as they prefer to play on their car park with its rough ground and ‘racines’ or tree roots to their smooth official pistes. Saturday afternoon was spent with new friends at the village of Couteron, just north of Aix, taking part in their regular melée. We were delighted to be given a bottle of local wine for each participant, presented in a formal ceremony which the French are so fond of. Our new committee Chair, Diana, was in splendid form thanking our hosts in her best French, which they obviously appreciated.
She presented them with a new Twinning badge, a tasteful little Union Jack and Tricolor together.
A free Sunday was spent by some of the group hiking in the foothills of Mont St Victoire, with a splendid lunch and an ad hoc game of boules at Le Tholonet. Meanwhile I met up with an Aix choir member who had been to Bath on an exchange visit. I spent the day with her friends near Trets, preparing lunch, joining in a game of boules and trying to understand the strong accents and patois of the locals. One of the benefits of going to France through the Twinning link is the friendships naturally generated by welcoming people into our homes and our lives.
Apart from our pétanquing, mornings were spent discovering the markets and attractions of Aix, including the new Caumont Centre d’Art, a restored mansion house now showing a
remarkable exhibition of Canaletto paintings gathered from around the world. Of course the main free-time occupation was just sitting in the sunshine with a petit café, watching the sophisticated Aixois going by, and the not so sophisticated tourists, hoping not to be taken for one. In one square a group of us were being sketched by some art students – somehow that feels so much more acceptable than being photographed!