Artists Inspired by ProvenceInspireWilliam Adams

Searching for Cézanne at the Gardanne Sunday Market

The Gardanne Market

It’s Sunday and I’m Heading to the market in Gardanne. It’s a cold, grey, wet morning — brumeux. I arrive at about 8:00, just as the market is beginning to open and park the car at the head of Boulevard Carnot, directly across the street from the massive Alteo aluminium factory. I’m struck by the extraordinary colours of the factory’s buildings, deep oranges and reds and ochres, caused, I presume, by the bauxite processed in the aluminium-making process. Even on this Sunday, the factory is noisy and clearly in motion, emitting a steady hum and the sound of stones tumbling in a giant mixer.


I turn right on the Blvd Carnot and head toward the Cours Fourbin and the market. The Cours is lined with three and four-story 17th and 18th-century buildings, with commercial properties at street level and apartments above. Large plane trees provide greenery and cover. The street is a busy, lively, commercial zone, filling now with people. Cafes, bars, hair salons, boulangeries, patisseries, épiceries, boucheries, opticiens, clothing stores, banks, tabacs, real estate offices. Healthy and vibrant, but so different from the chic commercial spaces of nearby Aix. Scrappy and a bit rough, a working-class city through and through.

The market is coming to life. The Cours Fourbin permits four full aisles of vendors, extending hundreds of yards down the street. There is an impressive variety of clothing, belts, shoes, tableware, and cookware. Fresh food of every sort, and prepared food as well. I stop to watch a couple making couscous, and the aroma from the bubbling pot of lamb and vegetables suddenly makes me hungry. At the very end of the market, I find a used bookseller. His stock includes a box of Sartre’s novels, a box of works by Zola, and boxes of 19th and 20th-century French literature. I buy a volume of Zola’s letters and Pagnol’s Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources. We talk for a bit about books and markets. He laments the changes caused by the explosion of digital commerce, especially for booksellers in markets like Gardanne’s.

Continue reading here for Bro Adams search for Paul Cézanne in his original blog post “Gardanne.”


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William Adams

William D. Adams served as the 10th Chair of the National Endowment of the Humanities from 2014-2017. Upon leaving NEH, Adams was named a Senior Fellow at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York, where he continued his national advocacy on behalf of the humanities. Prior to NEH, Adams served as President of Colby College from 2000-2014 and as President of Bucknell University from 1995-2000. He and his wife, Lauren Sterling, have a house in Puyloubier, France, where he is working on a book about the French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty and the painter Paul Cézanne.

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