Lots and lots of rain today. Started by looking around the centre of Aix at its tourist and cultural activities. Nice opera house and book museum. Also noticed how businesses in aix use the town’s name to make jokes. Orient Aixpress for instance.
Anyway, after lunch we got a minibus to go to Beureceuille, a tiny little village. Still raining and the village had two streets and no functions really. Pretty village, maybe for rich commuters to live out in the country.
Then on to Garbanne. An ancient and post industrial town. Started 4000 years ago, then had a coal mine and power station built. The mine is now closed, and the power station is mainly automatic so doesn’t employ many people. Our bus driver was very excited to tell us all about the industry, must make a change from his usual groups of tourists going to vineyards and chateaux! Garbanne is really a local town for local people. The tourist office is one room and was closed. There is an inaccessible museum that was tiny and a “Boulevard Paul Cezanne”. Apparently he visited once. But the town is trying to become part of the tourist and cultural industry of the area, but doesn’t really have a chance against the larger towns and cute villages. Maybe it should try an industrial heritage – iron bridge gorge of the provence region? Except there’s no “interesting” industry, just a coal mine and power station.
Still raining. Most people are soaked. I have an umbrella, but really not fieldtrip weather.
On to Aubagne, a town surrounded by motorways. It’s a bigger town than Garbanne with a proper tourist office and industrial parks. It’s surrounded by motorways, so obviously is a storage/distribution centre and has lots of in and out commuters to other towns and cities in the region. It feels like it has a bit more life, a bit more sustainable economic activity. On the outskirts is a historic farm open to visitors in the summer so people can see how life was long ago. Being surrounded by hills and mountains it also acts as a centre for outdoor pursuits- horse riding, climbing, mountain biking and the like. While not in the same league as Aix, Aubagne has a purpose and a role to play in the region.
On to La Ciotat where we’re spending the night and looking around tomorrow. This evening is revision session. We’ve lugged laptops and a projector with us so we can take over the lounge at the hotel and do powerpoint presentations to review the days activities. Only then can we get dinner, and might be back at the hotel by 10pm for some well earned sleep.