When it comes to French cities, there are many that get more attention than the Provençal (southern) city of Aix-en-Provence (Paris, Nice, Cannes… to name a few). This is all the more reason to head to Aix-en-Provence (“Aix” is pronounced “Ex”). You can avoid the tourist crowds and experience a vibrant French city, alive with history, art and culinary culture. Here are three ways to soak in all Aix has to offer at a leisurely pace.
Stroll down the Cours Mirabeau
Frequently called the Paris of the south, Aix-en-Provence is a sophisticated and cultured city. Nowhere is this more evident than along Aix-en-Provence’s “main street,”– le Cours Mirabeau. Lined with arching Plane trees, the Cours is home to stunning 17th century mansions and picturesque sidewalk cafes. (I recommend grabbing a light meal at Le Cézanne, located right off of le Cours Mirabeau). Aix-en-Provence is known for its beautiful and plentiful gardens and historic fountains—many of which are located along le Cours Mirabeau. Don’t miss the la vieille ville (old town) area in the northern part of the city--- you’ll feel as though you traveled back in time.
Visit the “le marché” (the outdoor market)
Aix-en-Provence is home to one of the largest (and loveliest) outdoor markets in France. The main market takes place in la vieille ville every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Here, you can find a dizzying array of Provençal olives (known throughout the world for their remarkable flavor), cured meats, specialty cheeses, fresh produce, dried and candied fruits, fresh-baked breads… is your mouth watering yet? If you’re looking for a unique souvenir to take home, multiple vendors at the market sell traditional Provençal table linens, wood carvings, and handmade soaps.
Take a Provençal wine tour
The southern French region of Provence is known for wine, especially traditional (read: dry, mineral-heavy) French rosé. There are several renowned vineyards located near Aix-en-Provence, which would make for a fun and practical one-day wine tasting tour. True oenophiles (wine lovers) may want to opt for a several-day tour that takes them all over the region. Provence Wien Tours is a great place to start.
Whatever you do, be sure to take advantage of the relaxed pace of life that is the norm in southern France. Bon voyage!
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