"AIX-EN-PROVENCE" Top 5 Page for this destination Aix-en-Provence by ForestqueenNYC

Aix-en-Provence Travel Guide: 331 reviews and 716 photos

From Florence to Aix-en-Provence

UPDATE JANUARY 27, 2006

I was back in Aix this week after about 8 years. I had a wonderful time with some of my old friends. It was great seeing them. But things have changed in Aix. Trees on the Cours have died and new plantings are still young and rather scrawny. My favorite restaurant has gotten new owners and new recipes. Aix is becoming modernized with a new building going up right at the Rotonde. I hope it doesn't become like Nice with a Vieux Aix.

Teenagers I used to see around town 10 years ago are now adults. Some friends have died and others have disappeared and no one seems to know to where. Amazing, in a small town like this. And, of course, like me, others have gotten old looking. I hardly recognized one of the women I used to have wine or a pastis with at Les Deux Garcons. When I remet these old friends and acquaintances, I could no longer lie to myself. I don't look like that person in the photo taken at the Fountain of the Quatre Dauphins anymore. I have also gotten old and have put on some extra pounds. I could probably do well with a lifting, too, or as my friend in New York calls it, a freshen up. I don't go to highschool and college reunions, but going back to Aix after 8 years is probably like going to a highschool reunion.

Now, I have mixed feelings about the value of going back to places of which you have great memories. On the one hand it is a bit depressing because of the deaths and changes; on the other hand you can finally let go of the place and start living in the now. And that is what I am going to do.

Aix is still one of the most beautiful towns that I have been to. It is also a very chic town. Many of the men and women are very well dressed, although I have been told by locals that they are not Axoise. I really don't know. There are lots of very upscale shops ranging from Hermes to Chanel and those like Gago and Clergerie.

A great effort is made to keep Aix clean and they are failrly successful at doing so. However, the beautiful historic architecture is marred by the graffitti none of which is in the least artistic or logical.

ORIGINAL POSTING

I lived in Aix 1994 to 1996.

After a bit of a disappointment in Florence, where I had been living, I went to Provence on vacation. I based my whole trip on the restaurants in Peter Mayle's book, Year In Provence. I arrived in Aix and I loved it so much that I stayed there for my entire vacation. By the 8th day, I enrolled at l'Institut d'Etudes Françaises pour Etudiants Etrangers and paid tuition for two semesters. I went back to Florence, packed up, moved to Aix, and never looked back. Wel, l almost never looked back.

For information on the school, go here:
http://www.iefee.com/presentation.htm

For information on tourism in Aix, for here:
http://www.aixenprovencetourism.com

Street Cleaners in Aix

They really do make every effort to keep this town spotless. They are not always successful. Unfortunately, it is really hard to keep it clean with all the tourists and students, so tourists have been heard to say that it is a dirty town. After washing the streets it can be a bit dangerous because they are very slippery.

Aix is one of the most beautiful little towns I have ever been to. It is full of life with university students from everywhere, buskers playing Vivaldi, and of course the usual mimes. For being so small, it is quite a sophisticated town and is often referred to as the 21st arrondissement because so many Parisians have second homes here.

The Famous Cours Mirabeau

When I first saw the Cours I was amazed. A tunnel of trees. I love trees, having spent over thirty years in the city of trees, Washington, D.C., and those in Aix were beautiful. I believe they are called plantain trees in America. So this was the place for me. It is a truly beautiful street.

You can get a better view from postcards of which I have many. Unfortunately they are all copyrighted so I cannot use them.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful small city, beautiful life. Many people speak English
  • Cons:Many people speak English, so it is hard to practice French, if you are there to learn it.
  • In a nutshell:Sophisticated, lively, cultured, and lots of restaurant.
  • Last visit to Aix-en-Provence: Jan 2006
  • Intro Updated Aug 18, 2010
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Reviews (30)

Comments (18)

  • Pawtuxet's Profile Photo
    Nov 16, 2007 at 5:22 AM

    Fabulous. I want to stay in the Hotel Cardinale and go to all the little markets around the town. The page was a joy even on the second visit.

  • Ritaroni's Profile Photo
    Jul 25, 2007 at 11:23 PM

    Francesca I believe we saw La coste by day and Arle by night. Don't you remember the blood sausage David the vegetarian ate?

  • sirenna's Profile Photo
    Jun 21, 2007 at 6:14 AM

    Excellent tips Francesca, especially the foodie ones. Thanks for an entertaining read. Regards from the Philippines :)

  • garridogal's Profile Photo
    Apr 16, 2007 at 3:23 PM

    I noticed that same shade of red in Germany recently. And my sister's ex mother-in-law, a Spaniard, had the same thing going on! Must be a European thing...

  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo
    Dec 28, 2006 at 8:47 AM

    Excellent tips, especially the restaurant and shopping ones. Interesting General Tip as well.

  • RosesGarden's Profile Photo
    Oct 16, 2006 at 10:47 AM

    Excellent tips here. I will defintely keep Capri La Suite and Bechard in mind when I travel to this wonderful city sometime next year!! PS - Love Sephora's!

  • Sarita76's Profile Photo
    Aug 24, 2006 at 9:23 AM

    Ciao Francesca, I was in Aix last week and I really loved it :)

  • planxty's Profile Photo
    Jul 28, 2006 at 6:23 PM

    Hi Francesca, what a comprehensive and well-written Aix page if I may say so. Great stuff. fergy.

  • tini58de's Profile Photo
    May 31, 2006 at 1:09 AM

    Francesca, what a wonderful page - I really enjoyed reading it! We might follow your hotel recommendations, thanks! And yes, revisiting a most special place does have pros and cons!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    May 5, 2006 at 11:19 AM

    Nice look at Aix, which is a place I have long been meaning to visit. Maybe this year. . .

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