There is nothing quite like breaking the ice with the man at the market in Aix by asking what kind of sausage he prefers, only to immediately realize what you just said.
(In case you’re wondering, he prefers goat.)
Les grands marchés aixois are held three times a week, on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Since I arrived Tuesday afternoon and only had enough brainpower left to buy wine, bread and cheese, today was my first chance to go to the market.
It reminded me a lot of the market I used to go to in Paris, where they would make fun of me for inspecting produce carefully before placing it in my basket. Their mindset is that everything is of highest quality, so no need to search for bruises. Mine, however, has been shaped by years of mediocre produce at Harris Teeter.
The Aix markets smell just like you would imagine: lavender sachets at every corner next to jars of honey, some still with the comb inside, a vast array of super fresh seafood, and LOTS of fresh cheese straight from the farm. Heaven. A block away is the flower market, where I plan to buy myself a bouquet once I move in to my apartment. Speaking of…
Today was spent in the Aix-en-Provence version of House Hunters International sans live tweeting from Michael Ian Black. I saw one of the apartments yesterday, an adorable studio in a five floor walk up (maybe six or seven, feels like 1,000) with an incredible view of the city. Seriously. Toits and mountains for days man. It’s in the middle of the city on a pedestrian street, filled with shops and restaurants and it is only a few blocks from the markets. Cost: 400 €
Then this morning, I went to see another apartment which was twice the size of the other at 24m². Huge bed, huge window, huge kitchen, huge bathroom. Huge. But, it was through an agency so I would have to leap through a bunch of hurdles to get it, and the ceiling was leaking. It is still pretty central, but about a 5-10 minute walk from the markets depending on how many croissants and baguettes you’ve eaten. Cost: 370 €
The final one I went to was hyper-petit, with two couches and no desk. It was pretty much a narrow room, with a small alcove with a kitchenette and the entry to the bathroom, where the shower curtain looked like a shadow from Psycho. There was some cool art on the walls and the door was painted fully with a red and white pattern. Cost: 440 €, but she’d take it down to 420 €
And, the one I signed the lease on was…
The first one! The landlord was super flexible about me not having a bank account and is letting me pay first in cash until I can get one set up (although he did kind of look at me like I was a heathen because who doesn’t have a bank account). I was so lucky and took two of my other assistant friends with me to make sure I wasn’t being swindled and in case he came up with something crazy. They also speak better French than I do so that was definitely a big help. The view really can’t be beat, plus with this many stairs to climb every day, I won’t even need a gym…