We love Aix en Provence, and coming back is like returning to our French home. We lived here several years ago with our sons, and we return regularly to visit our favourite city, our friends and neighbours, and to check out places for clients.
Whenever we return, the first thing we do is go to the Place de Mairie to touch the golden stones of the arch under the beautiful horloge clock tower, which we used to pass through every morning on our way to French classes at the Universite.
We love the markets, and the sunny squares filled with outdoor cafes, and the tree lined main boulevard Cours Mirabeau, where you can sit back and enjoy the sunshine while watching all the activity of daily life in France. There is a market every day in Aix en Provence.
On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday there is a large market with crafts, collectibles and food at the Place Verdun and Place Precheurs in front of the Palais Justice, and a flower market at the Place Hotel de Ville. A daily farmer’s market with food and fresh produce is held in the Place Richelme between the post office and the old grain market.
There is also a clothing and textile market on the Cours Mirabeau on Tuesday and Thursday, and at the Palais Justice on Saturday. On Sundays, there is a brocante/antique market on the Cours Mirabeau.
Aix has a wonderful climate and is usually bathed in sunshine illuminating and warming the honey coloured stone buildings. The elegance of Aix-en-Provence can be seen everywhere in its lively streets and squares, historic architecture, and ancient fountains.
The Cours Mirabeau is the beautiful tree lined avenue leading from the grand La Rotunde fountain to the statue of Roi Rene, and it is flanked with wide promenades, noble 17 & 18th century buildings, and lively cafes. The old town of Aix is filled with beautiful architecture, shops, markets, museums, and fountains. Aix has the third-largest collection of Baroque architecture in France, after Paris and Versailles. Everywhere, throughout the town, you will find fountains that gave this city its original Roman name of Aquae Sextiae.
On this visit to Aix en Provence, we are staying at a spacious & stylish one bedroom apartment in the centre of town. The apartment features tasteful furnishings and decor, and a south facing balcony overlooking a private garden below and over the tile rooftops. The apartment is quiet and tranquil, even though it is situated in the centre of town.
The Cours Mirabeau and all the shops, cafes and restaurants in the historic centre are just a short stroll from the apartment. Access to/from the autoroute is easy, and there is a convenient public parking garage just across the street. Our apartment hostess is very friendly and helpful, and the apartment is equipped with all amenities, good quality linens & towels, and thoughtful touches such as lovely Provencal soaps.
Aix is filled with restaurants, and although they change often, we are always delighted to return to some of our favourites, and to discover some new ones. Mitch restaurant has been a favourite of ours for several years, and we returned with anticipation on our first night in Aix. Once again, we enjoyed an excellent meal and service at Mitch restaurant, which is located on the Rue des Tanneurs in the old town. A highlight was the pan seared halibut served with a lobster emulsion and cepes mushrooms – excellente!
Not far from town, is the hilltop village of Ventabren, which features the tiny Michelin starred restaurant La Table de Ventabren restaurant with a sunny south-facing terrace. This was our choice for Sunday lunch with friends and former neighbours. The setting on a warm and sunny October afternoon was stunning and the meal was superb. Highlights were the scallops with cod mousselline, and the duck plate, which were both beautifully presented and delicious. The only downside was that lunch took 3 hours – although it was a very pleasant 3 hours with good friends, good food and good wine!
In the old town, just a few steps from the Place Mairie and the beautiful horloge, is the Place des Cardeurs and the restaurant Bistrot des Philosophes. We had a fabulous meal and great service. Our favourite dishes were the starter plate with buratta cheese with pesto, beefsteak tomatoes, duck pancetta, and parmesan crisp. The duck main course was delicious served with a fig sauce, potatoes dauphinoise with cepes mushrooms, and a vegetable tian.
Another favourite and very popular restaurant In Aix en Provence is the Poivre d’Ane on the Place Forum des Cardeurs. We chose the discovery menu with selections made by the chef. We sampled a foie gras and lobster terrine starter, a fabulous scallop with cepes mushroom sauce starter, partridge with prune sauce, and an incredible tiramisu with pistachio mascarpone, and raspberries – exceptional and highly recommended.
The weather was outstanding throughout our stay – beautiful, warm and sunny every day – a real treat at the end of November. As always, we left Aix en Provence with sadness, but look forward to returning soon.