Bonjour Aix en Provence
Cobbled streets, chilled wine, baking heat and lavender in twine. A weekend getaway in Aix en Provence was the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of London in high summer.
Situated in the heart of Provence in southern France, Aix – as the locals call it – is by no means a secret destination. Bohemian, Parisian chic mixes with the un-hurried and sunny disposition of the south, offering a perfect melange of culture and relaxation. Provence is also home to some of France’s most celebrated artists – Cezanne is Aix’s jewel in the crown – making this town a ‘must see’ on any art enthusiast’s agenda.
Aix is characterised by cobbled, narrow streets framed with old 18th century mansions and the wide, leafy boulevard of Cours Mirabeau lined by cafes, bars and boutiques. Bubbling fountains and spacious town squares give the small city a feeling of spaciousness, allowing cool breezes to permeate through the baking heat rising off the tiled place de ville.
Aix en Provence has it all for a gloriously lazy and restorative stay. Days began late, with a delicious buffet. We both made the amateur mistake of not canvassing the full offering before loading our plates – meaning at least two visits to the breakfast bar were required. Activities then alternated between a spot of shopping at the produce market in town or lounging under the Mediterranean sun, Kindle in hand.
Wanderings around the town filled the afternoons, with excursions to churches, town squares and more than one gelaterie. Aix en Provence attracts an affluent crowd of both French and foreign, and is also home to some of my favourite French shops - Maje, Sandro, Agnes B and BA&SH. Best part of a visit in late July? The sales, or soldes in French.
The day becomes oppressively hot in the mid-afternoon during summer, with most restaurants closing between 2:30 until 7:00pm . Staying in a place with a pool is a must. Enjoy the sun and steal a late-afternoon nap. The locals don’t start dinner until about 9pm, and even then it only seemed to be those with young children in tow. Aix really felt alive towards midnight, with bars setting up al fresco drinking in the town squares and locals cooling their wine in the many fountains dotted around.
Thank you for having us Aix-en-Provence. A bientôt!
With Love, Kate
Where: Aix en Provence, Southern France.
When: July 2014
Snapshot in seven: Poolside lazing in a southern cosmopolitan town
We stayed: Grand Hôtel Roi René, 24 Boulevard du Roi René, 13100.
We did: Poolside lazing, trawled the fresh food markets, ate dinner al fresco in the town's many squares, partied in the outdoor bars, visited the gorgeous French boutiques (hit up BA&SH, Sandro and Maje) and sampled the local gourmet delights of Calissons d'Aix and many patisserie goodies.
Pack: Espadrilles, woven shoppers, summer whites, wide-brimmed hats and a bikini
We ate: local favourite La Bidule for family-style fare, cooled-off with ice-cream at Jeff De Bruges and drank until the early hours at a pop-up bar in Richelme Square. Head to Patisserie Weibel for your sugar fix.
Tips: Take a little longer in Provence - hire a car and visit the beautiful lavender fields and the many other delightful towns in the south.