Before you start your walk through Aix, take a selfie in front of the water jets of La Rotonde. Constructed in 1860 this whimsical fountain once marked the entrance to the city of Aix-en-Provence in Provence in France. This remains one of the most recognizable and photographed sites today, but it is time to tour the streets of this foodie capital.
Turn your back on La Rotonde and stroll along Aix’s Champs Élysées the Cours Mirabeau. This broad café-lined avenue divides the old town into two sections. Stop at one of the many cafés like the famous les Deux Garçons – ideal for people watching in the sunshine. For something a little more discrete try the secluded terrace at Côté Cours. At the end of the leafy-shaded promenade once reserved for Aix’s aristocracy, discover the white marble statue of Roi René. Legend has it that calissons d’Aix, a sweet treat similar to marzipan, was first prepared for the King’s second bride. Sample this candy at many places in the city, including La Confiserie Roy René and Bechard Patissier.
Facing the statue, the old Roman and Medieval town of Aix-en-Provence with its narrow, twisty and often cobbled streets lies to your left. The Romans settled in Aix in 122 BC and named the location Aquae Sextiae. On the site of the original Roman baths is a modern spa called Thermes Sextius.
Make your way through the tangled web of the old town to Cathédrale St. Sauveur, constructed on the site of the 1st century Roman Forum. On your way to the Cathedral, pause at the Hôtel de Ville, once the centre of Provençal politics. Do not miss the Place des Cardeurs – a perfect place for an al fresco meal on the terrace at L’Epicurien or La Poivre d’Ane.
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Place Richelme is a must-visit square shaded by tall Plane trees. This plaza is a paradise for market lovers every morning of the week. In the afternoons, the space fills with café tables. Enjoy a fresh roasted coffee from Brûlerie Richelme or a light bite at Weibel, a patisserie established in 1954.
On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays there is a sizeable food market in Place des Prêcheurs. Shop for local specialities such as goat cheese, olives, seasonal vegetables and spices alongside antiques, silverware, linens and soaps. On your walk to Place des Prêcheurs, allow yourself to be tempted by Les 3 Ormeaux a restaurant and food boutique on a small refreshing square called Place des Trois Ormeaux. Before leaving Place des Prêcheurs, buy a loaf of bread from decidedly the best bakery in Aix-en-Provence Farinoman Fou and some artisanal chocolate from Chocolatier Puyricard.
Stroll through Place d’Albertas on your way to the 17th century Quartier Mazarin where the architecture and street grid mirror trends from Paris at that time.
Stop for a gallery visit or a light meal at the beautifully restored Hôtel de Caumont. Previously owned by the Church of St. Jean de Malte, this property will give you the impression that you stepped back into Pauline Caumont’s 18th-century world. To finish your tour, visit the Musée Granet a fine art museum and the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs.
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