The purple 1964 Buick Riviera


Sometimes it seems like this whole trip was simply a combination of walking and eating. We got back to the hotel mid-afternoon. Time to hit that pool one more time. But earlier in the day, we knew we’d have to eat that night (oh that’s news!) so with a combination of a guide book and our laptop, we had made a reservation.

We were looking for a small “real” Provençal restaurant. The generically named Salle a Manger seemed to be just that. On a side street, not too far from the hotel, advertised as one of Aix’s older restaurants.

So, after the pool and just unwinding, time to get dressed and head out. But first, a late-day pastis. Here, we found a new favorite drink at our “usual” Aix bar, Café Bouddoir. Turns out it was just around the corner from the restaurant (everything seems just around the corner in Aix).

Aix - Cafe Bouddoir Campari Andy

Tasty? You bet. See the recipe below....

Aix - Cafe Buddoir Mojito Italien

Try that mojito with Campari instead of Cuban rum next time. I know, sacrilege, but just try it.

Off to the restaurant. Nearly walked by it, but found the door and were welcomed by the proprietor. Here was an old-school French hipster. Hair slicked back, white leather shoes, cool pale slacks and a light purple shirt. We were shown to a table for two in the middle of the restaurant. Immediately noticed the full-size vintage scooter above the bar.

Aix - restaurant Marlene Bandol

Just a half bottle with dinner. Already had the pre-dinner drink, and knew there would be at least one post-dinner beverage.

But what I didn’t notice because I was facing the wrong way, was the front end of a car mounted above the entrance way. It was the distinctive set of headlights, the luxurious chrome grill and bumper of a full-size American car, with a little bit of body work around it, in a light purple that nearly matched the gent’s shirt. I recognized it right away, a 64 Buick Riviera. When the proprietor came to take our order, I smiled and gestured toward the car. “Nice Riviera!” He broke out into a wide grin. “Oh you know the car. Everyone thinks it’s a Cadillac.” We both laughed as if to say, how could you be so stupid, of course it’s a Riviera. (When I was a kid I made model cars and had a model of a Riviera, hence the “deep” Buick knowledge.)

Aix - Salle a Manger Buick Riviera

In North America this would be nothing special, but here in Aix, it's pretty cool.

I didn’t ask him why the scooter and the car. Hey, maybe it was his car, or just the car of his dreams. There had to be a story. Marlene ordered daube (French beef stew) and I had lamb. A bottle of local rosé rounded it out. The whole meal was perfect. Relaxed vibe, a somewhat eccentric but historical restaurant, run by a cool rockin’ daddy. We took our time.

Aix - cafe Andy night

Every night should end this way....

When we finally rolled out of there, we knew there was only one thing to do. Head back to our regular for a nightcap. Hey, it was the south of France, it was a warm May evening, the patios in the square were full. Could you ask for better? We stumbled home about midnight. We would have half a day tomorrow before getting on the TGV back to Paris.

Aix - cafe fountain night 2

They've figured out how to live here.


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