1. Aix rules.
2. Transports to Aix don't.
Let me explain : I currently live in Aix but work in Marseille, which is 30 minutes away by train. It has been brought to my attention that Marseille has several pretty cool beaches, which is entirely beyond the distractions Aix has to offer - a point that has been made to its inhabitants repeatedly. This is mostly because Aix fails to be situated on anything like a see-front, and appears to have very little intention to take action in that matter.
Recognizing this deep truth, yesterday evening after work I went swimming to the beach "du Prado" with a lab colleague. I found a semi-closed space to change and swiftly dived into our good old flat mediterranean sea, in so doing probably raising the sea level by a few molecules per square kilometers (anyone to compute this? I can't be much more than 80 liters). People of all sea fronts, you know this privileged sensation. The feel of the sea on your skin after a hard day's work, when all stress is lifted up by this primordial backwash that seems to have a private line with every single cell in your body.
The rest of the evening was spent in quite agreeable discussions on social cognition while sharing mussels in a restaurant on the promenade.
And then the true challenge inevitably came up: going back to Aix. When I got to Marseille's railway station I had missed the previous train by a good 20 minutes and the next was only 40 minutes later, that's how frequent trains to this pearl of a city are. In addition the train is an omnibus that would take us there in another 45 minutes if all went well. It was 10pm. I arrived in Aix at 11:37 but not before a homeless woman sat next to me and asked if she could play with my penis (what is wrong with you? I said no.).
But tonight I decided to repeat the operation, and went jogging with another colleague in Marseille after work. We are both post-docs in computational modelling; which makes things simple and brings deep conversations very rapidly. After scaring a few roosters in the parc du 26ème centenaire (yes that's how simple things got), we headed back to Notre Dame du Mont, where my colleague cooked us some truly wonderful dishes (see his co-blog "free your food"). We were still discussing aging processes, physics and epistemology when I figured I had to head back to the station or I'd miss the train.
Did I mention there was a strike on the line this morning and my direct train was cancelled? What you say, a strike in France? Well the strike wasn't over, and the rare trains that were not suppressed had been replaced by coaches. Of course the coach made numerous stops until it eventually reached Aix at something like 11:05pm, again after these 45 seemingly incompressible minutes of transportation, with loud music and a smell of pot coming from the back.
Of course it was tedious and slightly unnerving. But as always once you make it to Aix, all is forgiven. And if in the morning the sun comes to shine just a little bit on "Cours Mirabeau", then everything is illuminated.
Aix's "Cours Mirabeau"