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Remember to Keep Looking Up in Aix-en-Provence

When at home in Aix-en-Provence, we never tire of strolling the cobbled lanes, looking up and around to see what new treasures we can spy – have we noticed that fountain before? And look at that interesting frieze just below a roofline! 

Looking Up in Aix

We have guided our Music and Markets Tours guests through the beautiful town of Aix en Provence for the past 17 years. Along the way, we point out the many niches, filled with Madonnas and saints, and on corners of buildings. During medieval times these comforting icons were installed during the plague so that the quarantined residents, unable to attend mass, could instead pray to these figures that they could see from their windows. 

Flatiron Madonna Looking Up Aix-en-Provence


Did we ever imagine that, once again, our world would be confined to our homes as we were earlier this year? France imposed a nearly two-month lockdown in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the Heart of Aix:

We can see the cathedral bell tower from Ambiance d’Aix, our home in Aix en Provence – do you think that would “count” as a prayer niche?! 

Belltower Looking Up Aix-en-Provence


One of the things we love about our French home is the sound of those church bells. On the last Wednesday of March, church bells rang out throughout France for 10 minutes, beginning at 7:30 pm, as an act of solidarity and hope, and people were encouraged to light candles in their windows at the same time.

Someone Watching Over You

Throughout the town, Mother and Child statues seem to bless the lively squares below. I think of this one as the market Madonna. 

Market Madonna Looking Up Aix-en-Provence


Just around the corner from our home is this unusual Black Madonna, on the corner of “scrape your elbows” lane – a cobbled path so narrow you have to hold your arms against your body as you walk through. 

Aix en Provence black madonna


As we stroll our favourite lanes, we look at these historic niches with new eyes, and hope that they may continue to smile down on busy-once-again squares!

Author’s Bio: Anne Woodyard

Anne Woodyard Bio Photo

The best way to describe the Woodyards is that they’re interested in the stories that make the places they visit come alive.

They’ve visited Europe more times than they can count, learned some entertaining stories there, and met some warm and helpful people who also enjoy the wonders of music and life in Europe. They look forward to sharing these stories and friends and experiences with their Music and Markets guests.

Since 2003 they’ve hosted Music and Markets tours in France, Italy, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, England and Spain, and in 2019 added Wonder Tours with a more intentional concentration on art and architecture, local culture, food and wine, and less time dedicated to concert-going.

They also design and host custom private tours – previous locations include many French, Spanish, British and Italian regions.

Between their music-related travels, they split their time between their homes near Washington DC and the south of France. While both have experience in organizing travel and music groups, Anne is an accomplished pianist with over forty years of teaching and performance experience.

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