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Aix-en-Provence

Posted on July 29, 2014 by Susie Hollands

Text: Susie Hollands
Images: Moritz P and Alex Janssen

Everything in Aix is close and walkable which, along with the warm and laid-back Southern vibe, makes it a very relaxing destination. Search for the Dolphin fountain (the city is nicknamed for its thousand fountains) and the historic Mazarin quartier to explore the old mansions from the aristocratic age.

Take lunch at a local no-frills joint like Café Cezanne – they have good daily specials and dishes like the “frito mixte” (squid and other seafood served with strong aioli) are delicious. Service is super fast, polite and efficient. You’ll find it at the bottom of the Cours Mirabeau which is the main drag for people watching and the place to be seen (it has been for centuries). For something special L’Epicurian is a good choice, with delicious, seasonal plates matched with local wines.

The centre of town boasts a typical Provencal market where you can pick up locally produced specialties like honey, garlic, herbs and lavender as well as cheap clothes and bags for those with a penchant for a bargain. Round off any child’s outfit with the grooviest shoes at YAKA Shoes. The delightful staff and space age style interior make it a worthwhile stop. Child playing up? Just attach them to the baby seat embedded in the wall! They have interesting styles in natural fabrics – a bit more inventive than your average Clarks sandal. For ages 1-10 years. There is also a wonderful old toy shop Le Nain Rouge with a great selection of wooden toys – look for the huge Pinocchio outside on the pavement.

Sous Le Tilleul offers a wonderful base in a great location. The large suite available to rent on the 1st floor has a magnificent view out to the colourful houses opposite and a gorgeous garden, featuring the famous lime trees of the name. Owner Marie-Christine Ducros prepares a perfectly laid breakfast table with plentiful pastries and pretty local tableware as well as supplying tips of what to do in the city. She is a proud hostess (chambres d’hôtes are the rough equivalent of a British B&B – with a French flair of course) and her home and garden are comfortable and scrupulously clean. The 1st floor apartment could sleep 2 couples or a medium sized family. A relaxing salon-cum-bedroom space doubles as a playroom or TV room for evenings leaving the tranquil master bedroom overlooking a Provençal garden. The rooms are connected by a huge bathroom with a great jacuzzi bubble bath, tons of space and no shortage of towels.

A fridge, a corkscrew, TV and comfortable sitting room are at your disposal so staying in is not that bad if you have young kids. Instead of heading out to a fancy restaurant, why not pick up some French style take-away at Charcutier Traiteur Verwerft? A slice of quiche, a portion of sun dried tomatoes, small bell peppers stuffed with tuna and spices, a mixture of cold cuts, local olives, tapenade and good bread from a bakery doing evening service will set you back around 20 euro.

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TO EAT

Café Cezanne
50 rue Espariat
Ph. 04 42 93 30 70

L’Epicurian
13 Place de Cardeurs
Ph. 06 89 33 49 83

Charcutier Traiteur Verwerft
17 rue Maréchal Foch
Ph. 04 42 26 08 17

TO SHOP

YAKA Shoes
15 rue Papassaudi
Ph. 04 42 26 46 73

Le Nain Rouge
47 rue Espariat
Ph. 04 42 93 50 05

Aix-en-Provence market
8-12pm Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays
Place Romée de Villeneuve

TO STAY

Sous Le Tilleul
2 Boulevard de Rol-René
Ph. 04 42 38 39 06