Susan's sketchbook log: Tuscany


Chez M. CezanneChez Paul

This year was the centenary of the death of Paul Cézanne. While I was too late for the main festivities in his home town of Aix-en-Provence, which apparently had done everything short of renaming itself Cézanneville, it was definitely worth the easy train trip north.

Upon arrival, began the pilgrimage by making a beeline to Deux Garçons, the café under the plane trees of Cours Mirabeau where Cézanne used to hang out with Emile Zola. The trees were punier than I remembered, and the Cours was clogged with a flea market that didn't do much for the ambience. A flower market a few blocks away was better, and then I walked up the hill to the atelier.

It turns out Paul's old studio sits on some prime real estate, less than 1.5km from the center of Aix and a local developer had been all set to tear down the house and build some apartment blocks. It was an American who bought it and organized the foundation that would preserve it and then give it back to the city of Aix. In a country that doesn't hold ours in very high repute at the moment, it's a satisfying tale.

There was a cool sun-dappled courtyard to sit and paint in. Definitely a cool place for une petite aquarelle before heading back to Cassis (below).

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