One Sunday in Aix, I was doing my laundry at the cheapest lavérie in town, on Rue Boulegon. It was just a normal Sunday.
As I walked down the street with my Ikea bag of half-damp clothes (dryers are expensive!), I ran into a tour group of elderly English people. Anyone who has ever lived in a city with tours knows how frustrating this can be – I am just trying to do my laundry and you are standing in my way! – I wanted to scream (I refrained). I eavesdropped as I walked past the group and heard the tour guide say, “And this is the house where Cézanne lived before his death.”
For months, I had unknowingly been living my most mundane life on the street where Paul Cézanne had lived the same, at the time, mundane life. I wondered if he did his laundry on the same street, before quickly realizing that thankfully laundry has come a long way in the past century.
Beyond the laundry, though, Cézanne walked down that street every day, maybe to go to the market in the center of town or maybe to buy a baguette. Aix is filled with history about Cézanne, and it would be a shame to visit the city without seeing his studio and the paintings of the city he loved so much, even though his work wasn’t appreciated until long after he died. Finally seeing his paintings at Aix’s Musée Granet and then (by surprise) at the National Gallery of Art in Washington gave me goosebumps – somehow this man had so perfectly captured the essence of Aix, of Montagne Sainte Victoire, of life in France – that I only wish I could emulate.
Instead, I give you this post on My French Life, walking you through all my favorite spots to appreciate Cézanne’s life in Aix. Maybe someday a tour guide will say, “And this is where Anne wrote about France,” on the same street where someone does laundry. ♦
Which is your favorite Cézanne painting? Have you ever been to any of these places?