Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
*Aix-Plassans (aks-plah-SANZ). Quarter of Aix-en-Provence in which Pascal lives; it looks out on the beginnings of the countryside, which offers Pascal and Clotilde a refuge from daily social contacts during their frequent strolls. The soft valley of Plassans seems timeless, shaded by century-old cypress trees. As the region opens onto the countryside, the yellowness of its dusty soil recalls again the contrasts between shade and light. As for Aix-Plassans itself, Émile Zola probably chose this quarter because of his own father’s association with it, as an architect and builder of a prominent town fountain.
*La Viorne (vjorn). Stream running through Aix-Plassans that is visible from the outer terrace of Doctor Pascal’s residence. Its shaded banks seem to draw the viewer’s attention away from the stone architecture and fountains of the city’s squares and toward one of Zola’s favorite symbols of the Provençal countryside, the immense horizon arching over the rocky sides of the many valleys, none famous enough to be known to the outsider, but bearing names familiar to the town’s inhabitants.
*Aix-en-Provence (AK-sahn-proh-vahns). Old city north of Marseilles in southeastern France. Although Aix-en-Provence has many architectural attractions that make Pascal’s residential quarter pale by comparison, Zola concentrates on the single image of the city’s cathedral. The area around Aix, because of its natural beauty and the varied hues of its soil, rocks, and valleys, draws his protagonists most often into the countryside.
*Mount Sainte Victoire (sant vik-TWAHR). Craggy mountain outcropping jutting up in the distance northeast of Aix-en-Provence that is visible from most parts of the city’s outskirts. Sainte Victoire’s shadows and gleaming rockface were captured on canvas by Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne.
*Cathedral of St. Sauveur (sant sah-vewr). Prominent medieval church in the traditional center of Aix-en-Provence whose splendid stone carved facade and belfries seem to represent an almost physical force drawing both the eyes and social activities of the town’s residents. Zola mentions the church in almost every section of his novel.
*Route de Nice (nees). Panoramic roadway leading eastward from Aix-en-Provence through the long valleys separating the rocky chestnut-and pine-forested interior from the Mediterranean coastal range. The road seems to represent the direction toward which Zola’s characters turn their view if they think of the world beyond. It is, however, the road itself, with its shades of light and colors that is depicted, not its travelers’ distant destinations.
*Marseille (mar-SAY). Port city on the Mediterranean. Although not very distant from Aix-en-Provence, this busy urban port seems to belong to another world entirely. On the occasions when Pascal travels there on professional business, there seems to be an interruption in the novel’s rich Provençal imagery, leaving readers with no more than the city’s name to imagine how distinct it is from Aix.