As the curtain rises in the morning, market stalls appear in various open places in the old centre of Aix en Provence. Today, the flower market covers the Anciano Placo du Marcato. Seasonality is still important in France – hurrah! So, in the last week of March, in Place Richelme, layered blocks of asperges catch the eye . . . . many varieties, all photogenic and tasty too!

. . . below are ‘Violette du Gard’ . . .

. . and ‘Blanche du Gard’ above. Simple ‘verte’ below – slimmer and very similar to Italian asparagi. So that’s the first course dealt with and now onto something sweeter . . .

. . . enter La Cure Gourmande in rue Vauvenargue, and you are offered sweet delicacies to try – les choupettes especially delicious!  The coy couple on the poster in the window in full traditional chocolate regalia convey a homeliness.

Less traditional is the shop next door – chic in appearance – but less comforting, which is what chocolate is, in character.

At Puyricard, bunnies and chicks delighted baby – but apparently he’s not getting any! All the sweeter for him next year!

Cercis in bloom in town squares and more informally planted in the countryside – for me much more delicious to savour than  chocolate! This clearly isn’t Count Gismond but his hand is on his heart so just a goûter to be going on with.

Christ God who savest man, save most

Of men Count Gismond who saved me!

Count Gauthier, when he chose his post,

Chose time and place and company

To suit it; when he struck at length

My honour, ‘t was with all his strength.

And doubtlessly, ere he could draw

All points to one, he must have schemed!

That miserable morning saw

Few half so happy as I seemed,

While being dressed in queen’s array

To give our tourney prize away.  Robert Browning   Count Gismond – Aix in Provence

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