Aix en Provence (pronounced like the letter x) in the South of France is old world elegance with a dash of Parisian chic.
Posted by Jennie
A city of fountains, ochre mansions, tall plane trees, endless blue skies and blinding sunshine, a walk on the its main drag, Cours Mirabeau is always cause for excitement.
Al fresco café’s line the pedestrian only avenue as tourists and locals spill out on the sidewalks under oversized umbrellas sipping espressos and chilled rose while their furry companions snooze away on their laps.
Cours Mirabeau branches out into little streets and alleyways on either side. The Old Town is to the left side while the Quartier Mazarin is to the right. Originally built as a housing estate for aristocrats and ministers, Quatier Mazarin now houses museums, restaurants and quaint hotels. Its grid pattern makes it easy to navigate its two main streets, Rue du 4 Septembre and Rue Cardinale.
The old town on the other hand is a jumble of streets that follow no pattern. You’re meant to get lost and wander the narrow alleyways that lead to little squares, pretty fountains and pop up markets.
Pop Up Markets There are pop up markets everyday of the week in different areas of the city. On weekends there are several markets. Big ones for fresh produce, seafood, meat, honey, sausages, olives, pastries and cooked food. Smaller ones for antiques, various bric a brac, paintings, jewellery, furniture and even vintage toys. Then there’s a fabric and garments market right on Cours Mirabeau selling Provencal style fabrics, table cloths, runners, napkins and clothes by local designers with a distinct South of France lounge vibe. There are also Panama hats, Provencal baskets and colourful ceramics.
Be warned though, I bought a very Provencal looking linen laundry bag, only to see the Made in China tag later on!
The best pasalubong in my opinion would be dried lavender in linen pouches and Savon de Marseille, at least you can be sure these are Made in France.
Apartment with a Terrace
When we think about our week long stay in Aix, my husband and our two kids agree that the apartment we stayed in was our favourite in this trip. It had two spacious bedrooms, a cozy living room, a real working kitchen and my two favourite appliances – a washer/dryer and a dish washer!
My daughter had a room with the view of the towers of Eglise Saint-Jean-de-Malte. My son was comfortable in his leather sofa bed and my husband and I had the room on the second floor that opened out to a sunny balcony where we spent many of our best moments in Aix for breakfast, for dinner, to watch the sunset and for chilled rose.
Our landlady Muriel and Quentin who checked us in are simply the best apartment owners and managers you can hope for.
We rented this apartment Apartment Duplex et Terrase Mazarin from Booking.com. You get 1 night free when you book 7 nights.
Surviving the gas and train strike in France and how Muriel went out of her way to help us in a related post. Read it here.