Aix-en-Provence for a day


Sep 16th, 2017, 09:46 AM
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Aix-en-Provence for a day

We are traveling to Aix-en-Provence; hopefully will arrive late morning (Wednesday) and will spend the night and plan to spend the next day (Thursday) there also. I would like some help with must see and do things since we will not have much time there. Should we do some kind of "tour" when we arrive: walking, biking, food, etc.(recommendations?) or is it just as easy to get the "lay of the land" on your own? We do like museums but if it is a nice day we prefer to be outside. We are not really shoppers but do like to window shop. We LOVE food and would like suggestions on place to, desserts, lunch (we usually like to get our big meal at lunch time and do not often go out to dinner; yes, I know some places are only open for dinner, so again, if there is a place not to miss for dinner, please, let me know and we can always make an exception).

Thank you in advance for all of the help.
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Sep 16th, 2017, 11:13 AM
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We are returning ourselves to Aix in a few weeks after having been there about 5 years ago. I look forward to browsing the wonderful outdoor markets in Aix on Thursday as well as returning to the atelier of Cezanne (his studio which has been preserved just as it was when he died). They offer a 30 min English tour which you can prebook from home ahead of time. The Musee Granet is also a lovely small museum and there is now another art center as well which looks promising (on my to do list as I love museums).
I look forward to seeing what others reply to your post!
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Sep 16th, 2017, 11:53 AM
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Sep 17th, 2017, 08:26 AM
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You certainly don't need a tour to enjoy Aix. It's very easy to navigate.

For visitors, the areas on both sides of the Cours Mirabeau, the beautiful central boulevard, about 1/2 mile long, are worth visiting. The area to the south, the Mazarin quarter, is a rectilinear area of beautiful mansions and townhouses. The famous sight is the 17th-century Four Dolphins fountain on the rue 4 septembre. Nearby is the Caumont Center, in a magnificently restored mansion; I'm not sure when you'll be there, but you can check the website to see if their special exhibit interests you. Even if it doesn't, they have a beautiful cafe that makes a wonderful place for lumch or afternoon tea; if the weather is good, you can eat in the lovely garden. The ancient church of St. Jean de Malte is worth a look, as well. If you want to windowshop, the rue d'Italie at the east end of the quarter has many small boutiques with artfully done windows.

ON the north side of the Cours is the commercial area, a maze of irregular streets. A map will be a great help! You can just wander; if you need a destination, you really should see the place de l'Hotel de Ville (many cafes, so stop for wine, ice cream, oor whatever you please), and the neighboring pl. Richelme. A bit further up past the clock tower is the church of St. Sauveur, parts of which are about 800 years old, and its beautiful cloister. Along the way you'll pass more magnificent mansions.

Two blocks from the pl. Richelme is my personal favorite square (ok, it's a triangle)--the place des Trois Ormeaux. It's very small, with a pretty fountain. The very good restaurant L'Incontournable takes over the square at dinnertime, so you can eat outdoors in a calm, quiet atmosphere.

As for markets, there's a clothing market on the Cours on Thursday mornings. There's a daily fruit and veggie market in the pl. Richelme and I think on Thursday also around La Rotonde and a flower market (not as good as it used to be for some reason) in the pl. de l'Hotel de Ville.

Aix is a gorgeous small city/large town. The tourist office off La Rotonde, the huge fountain at the end of the Cours Mirabeau, has all kinds of maps and stuff.
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Sep 18th, 2017, 07:12 AM
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Great info! Thanks all. Will try to post what we end up doing.
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Sep 22nd, 2017, 01:24 AM
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We had a great time in Aix. We pretty much followed @frenchaucoeur suggestions; it was such a perfect tour of the city. I will add a few comments for @el13207 upcoming trip.

Caumont Center has a wonderful Sisley special exhibition going on now that is well worth the visit. We made the mistake and did not go to the cafe while we were there and tried to go back the next day because it was a lovely spot BUT you had to pay 12 euros just to go into the cafe (it is good for two people and last one year). SO if you go see the exhibit, enjoy the cafe on that visit.

The ancient church of St. Jean de Malte is under major renovation but you can still get inside. Some of the stained glass windows were removed.

We added the Granite Museum to our visit because I wanted to see the Cezannes and they had a special exhibit of the Jean Plaque Collection that is well worth visiting.

We could not eat at the suggested L'Incontournable because we arrived at 2:05pm and they stopped service at 2pm. BUT we found a fabulous substitution that I would recommend also le bouche à oreille 1 Rue Aumône Vieille (another little quiet area).

Note at church of St. Sauveur if you want to visit the cloister there are timed tours but be aware it is given in French and once you go in with the tour you cannot leave until it is finished.

My last additional information is as you walk from the clock tower to the church. There is a small shop the sells madeleines that are to die for; worth stopping and having some.

We loved Aix and wanted to stay another night but our hotel was fully booked for the next night. BTW we stayed at the Renaissance Aix-en-Provence Hotel
320 Avenue Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and it was WONDERFUL! It has a spa also where I got a fantastic massage.

Enjoy your Aix visit.
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