For our facebook-enabled, but not -addicted readers (the addicts already know): many photos of the adventures contained in these virtual pages have now entered the interwebz. My face and my house, the two most requested subjects in these comment threads – one entire vote each! – are prominently featured.

Ah, what an excellent weekend. We quit the city on Friday afternoon in epic fashion; it was epic because there were like twelve of us, the bus to St-Victoire left at 12:15 from we didn’t really know where, half of our group had class until noon, and we STILL all made it. We even got off at the right stop.

nice range of shoes, right?

After that, though, we got a little disoriented, and took a path that seemed legit but in retrospect took us an hour or so in the opposite direction from the mountain we were attempting to summit. I should have warned everyone that an incontrovertible law of existence is that I will get lost the first time I try to go anywhere; I take full responsibility. Luckily folks were chill, and were much more inclined to be delighted with the natural scenery, the gorgeous day, the perfectly blue reservoir, and the piles of food than to be disgruntled about our collective directional challenges. Next time, we promised each other. Now we know the way. This time, however, we’re going to sit on these rocks and eat the quintessential French picnic, which we call “Everything on Baguettes.” Camembert, salami, chèvre, hummus, wine, nutella, fig jam, grapes, melted chocolate bars, hard cider, guacamole, other kinds of baguette… ah, sandwiches, how do I love thee, let me count the ways.

picnic by the barrage de Bimont.

lunch at the Montmarte in Marseille. We recommend the salmon tagliatelle.

On Saturday we dragged ourselves out of bed at the utterly atrocious hour of 9:00 AM and got on a bus to Marseille. Luckily the other thing we did on Friday was mob the bus station and acquire the priceless Carte Treize bus pass. Actually, it’s quite easy to price it. Every time you use it you save ≥ €8, because it allows you 24 hours of unlimited bus transfers in the Provence-Alps-Côtes d’Azure region for two whole euro. Uh, yes, please and thank you. So we hopped on the Aix-Marseille bus, hopped off in a new city, snapped some pictures of the Arc de Triomphe (yup there’s one here too – the French like to commemorate their victories, perhaps more than anyone) and struck out for the Office de Tourisme where a dude was quite pleased to show a group of chatty American girls how to get around the city. We had talked about visiting the Chateau d’If, site of The Count of Monte Christo, but decided to put off sightseeing until our next visit and devote ourselves instead to shopping, and lunch. Mmmmm… lunch.

In front of the Arc de Triomphe in Marseille.

Shopping was also quite successful. Despite being in France, or perhaps because of it (hipster fashion has a certain universality), we managed to outfit Andi in red-brown femme combat boots and flannel, not to mention find €2 scarves and €10 flats. Turns out Marseille is A LOT cheaper than Aix. As Andi’s host mother says, “Aix is a city of the rich. Malheureusement, Marseille is a city of the poor.” It reminded us of New York, a bit. Maybe it was just the storefronts selling piles of sweatshirts still wrapped in plastic… But it’s a fascinating city. It’s got a lot more depth than Aix, a cultural and demographic complexity that our swank little town tries and fails to manufacture. On the other hand, it’s LOUD, and big, and definitely not safe to walk around in at 3 AM, which is one of our favorite Aixois pastimes. So, pros and cons. I’m inclined to love where we live. Mount Vernon is good training for not feeling getting cabin fever – I mean, hell, there are restaurants open at 9:00 PM in Aix. Everything is relative.

So now I’ve spent most of Sunday at my computer, trying to catch up with life and get my voice back/shake this cold I’ve got going on. Tomorrow has lots of computer work in it as well, unfortunately. Maybe I’ll take a time out, by a copy of La Monde, and go sit in the Parc Jordan. À demain!