Aix is one of the most beautiful villes in France. It is what you think of when you think Provence: fountains, old buildings, lavender and good food. It is also one of the most expensive places in France.
We were lucky enough to stay in a beautiful apartment right in center ville. It overlooked a charming square and we had to climb a spiral staircase to get to it. The back windows overlooked the tile roofs. How romantic.
But getting there was also an adventure. We left Geneva kind of late. We stopped in Chambery for lunch. We didn’t have time to visit the castle of the Dukes of Savoy but it looked beautiful. My son really wanted to avoid the auto-route and take the Route de Napoleon instead. After the experience we had with the auto-route, I am so glad we did. Not only was it probably faster, it was so beautiful. This is the route Napoleon took to invade Italy. It goes through the mountains all the way to Gap. There are many monuments to Napoleon, several beautiful lakes and some adorable villages. If your gym has bikes with video tours, this is one of the itineraries. We took a small detour once and saw the ruins of a beautiful castle. If you have the time, this route makes the trip more of a journey. It is not just getting there, it is exploring it. I wish we had more time to stop but we got to see it at least.
Aix has a wonderful visitor’s center right in the center of town by the fountain on Cours Mirabeau. There you can get maps and book some of their walking tours. Because my son lived in Aix for several months he guided us through town.
I like to find a special thing in each place I visit and I noticed that in Aix many of the doors have statues or reliefs on top of the lintels.
Aix is a great place to shop, but beware that many of the shops are closed on Mondays and close during the middle part of the day because it gets really hot and they close early for American standards.
One place that you can’t miss is the outdoor market at Place Richelme. It’s only open in the morning but you get a feast for your eyes; beautiful produce, artisanal cheeses, sausages and hand made soaps. In the evenings you can go to Cours Mirabeau and buy more soaps, paintings, crafts, and some of the local cookies.
We stopped by the Eglise de la Madeleine. It is a lovely cathedral. The baptistry is also very lovely. Even though it is a large church, it has a nice feel to it. There was a film crew in front of it filming some action movie. It was fun to see how they film things. I wonder what movie it was.
I wanted to see the Roman baths from which this city was named: Aquae Sextiae. You can still see some of the ruins. There is a posh spa on the same spot. Nearby is the Pavillon de Vendome. It is a beautiful house with a gorgeous formal French garden. It is free to see the garden but there is a fee to go into the house.
My favorite part of France is the little villes that surround the larger towns. My son wanted to see some ruins in Rogne. They were ruins all right and we couldn’t climb up to them. We had a nice picnic lunch instead. He says that views there are lovely.
Nearby is the town of Pertius. My son wanted to visit some friends while we just enjoyed some refreshments at a cafe. It was fun watching the elderly men sitting on the town’s fountain chatting.
We need to institute a siesta in the US. It was much needed after all the walking around in the heat. But then in France not everything is air conditioned and if it is, they keep the door open. They think it is too cold.
There are many restaurants in Aix. We just picked one that looked good on two of the nights we were there. On one night we ate Senegalese food, which was an unique experience for me. It was good. The other night we had Provencal food. I ate beef, my husband lamb and my son rabbit.
The gelato in Aix very good. I had a goat milk and fig ice cream from Giovanni’s which is made in Aix itself. It is on Cours Mirabeau.
If you are an art lover you can visit several Cezanne sites.