Aix-en-Provence: Trip Diaries

Short trip diaries from my third trip to one of the finest cities in the World – Aix-en-Provence.

Day 1 – En Route to Aix-en-Provence

I am this time traveling with my mom and sister. We first fly to Marseille Airport which is located midway from Marseille and Aix-en-Provence. There is a shuttle service departing every 30 minutes and which takes you to Aix again in 30 minutes.

We check into our hotel (Hotel de France) which is located right by Cours Mirabeau and head into one of the plazas in the town to benefit from the good weather for an outdoor dinner. This is my third time in this town and it still takes my breath away. Imagine it like a smaller version of Paris filled with only good parts of Paris and surrounded by amazing landscape.

Our hotel has a great location and relatively large size rooms compared to French standards. 

Day 2 – Discovering Aix-en-Provence

We wake up to a rainy day and it just makes a great excuse for our original plan anyhow. Just touring the cafes and restaurants of beautiful Aix-en-Provence. We hit the Cours Mirabeau first thing in the morning and get our breakfast at Le Grillon.

I find the atmosphere and the interior decoration of Le Grillion to be very inviting and cozy compared to some other French brasseries where they for some reason chose to use cheap looking leather chairs – making the places look like a run-down night club. Grillion has none of that and it has a hole on the ceiling that serves for quite interesting compositions focusing on French cafe life. Rest of the day is spent touring the beautiful streets of Aix with occasional wine stops.

Day 3 – Studio of Cézanne

We had our breakfast today at the lovely Maison Weibel and toured around the food market. Markets open early in the morning and get closed shortly after lunch time. You can see that these markets are a real option for the locals of Aix for their food shopping as you can find nearly anything there including cheese and seafood products. In the afternoon, we walk up to Cézanne’s Studio, which is located at the outskirts of the mountains surrounding Aix. This is the place that Cézanne used in the last years of his life and everything remains intact as in the exact form he left. Highly recommended half-day trip.

When I first visited Aix-en-Provence years ago, there was an exhibit featuring the life and work of Cézanne who was born and raised in Aix-en-Provence. There was also a lot of insight into his famous friendship with author Emile Zole and the big impact this friendship (which later went sour) had on Cézanne.

Day 4 – Mountaintop Villages of Provence

Today is our last day in Aix-en-Provence. I in the morning visit the Tourism Information Center and to my surprise easily arrange a tour for three of us to visit some of the most famous mountain side villages of Provence. A small van picked us up and drove up to the mountains to visit Bonnieux (made famous by the movie a Good Year), Lacoste – which is a very picturesque town also home to the chateau of Marquis de Sade – the unconventional French author and Roussillon – a town to inspire painters with its amazing color palette. 

Today was a long day with a lot of driving involved. But a visit to Aix-en-Provence would not be complete without a side trip to the impossibly atmospheric mountaintop villages. Tomorrow morning, we are heading back to Istanbul. Aix-en-Provence is also served by TGV, which makes an ideal place to visit even if your entry point to France is Paris. With advanced reservation, it is usually possible to secure good prices as low as 50Euros for a wonderful three hours long train trip.