Visiting Aix en Provence

Old Oct 18th, 2011, 03:06 AM
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Visiting Aix en Provence

Next June we'll be in Provence travelling by train/bus.

We have a choice of going directly from Marseilles airport to Avignon (which will be our base) by bus/train and treating Aix as a day trip or stopping in Aix on the way to Avignon and staying in Aix for a day and a half before going on the Avignon.

Each approach has it's advantages.

I had originally decided to stop in Aix first. Then the convenience of one less hotel change started to win out.

Then I started to read the Fodors guide (got it as a result of being quoted in a trip report) and one sentence caught my attention.

Something about the churches and museums being overshaddowed by the city. That sure got my inerest as we prefer to just wander around destinations.

Any comments that might help me decide?
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Old Oct 18th, 2011, 03:51 AM
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I would do it as a day trip. Just not my favorite Provence city by far.
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Old Oct 18th, 2011, 08:36 AM
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I'd probably go to Aix and stay there a couple days first. You don't get the same experience in a day trip as in staying a couple days. Aix does have a lot of beautitful buildings and architecture. I don't find changing hotels that big a deal myself. YOu don't have to do major unpacking and settling in if you are in a hotel a couple days on vacation. Given it will be June, your clothing needs won't be that much, just use the top of your suitcase and don't unpack that much.
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Old Oct 18th, 2011, 08:59 AM
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I agree with the above poster. I find the city beautiful and there's a lovely restaurant I like, Le Clos du Violette
Don't miss the Romanesque cloister in the Cathedral of
Saint-Saveur The Atelier of Cezanne-don't expect to see his paintings there but there are five small ones at th Mussee Granet The fountains, moss covered, line the boulivard-like
main street, the Cours Mirabeau.
Suggested reading MFK Fishers, Two towns in Provence
and The Boss Dog..
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Old Oct 18th, 2011, 10:01 AM
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I'm very familiar with both towns and recommend staying in Aix for a day or two. I find it a lovely place, prettier than Avignon, with a super, pedestrianized old town that invites exploration.

By contrast, I find Avignon a little cold and overly bustling and crowded. The Palais des Papes is a vast, unfurnished pile (though still worth a visit) and my take on the other actual attractions there (Musée Angladon, Musée du Petit Palais, Pont. St. Bénezet) is that they're OK but not world-class. In contrast to Aix, Avignon does not have a large pedestrian-only zone.

Once, when I mentioned my lack of enthusiasm for Avignon to a knowledgeable friend, he said, "Well, of course, Avignon was a prison town for so long." Meaning that during the time of the papacy in Avignon (1309 to 1376), the town was really in the grip of zealous church leaders who ruled as cruelly as any secular rulers anywhere. Odd to think that much about the town's essence has remained over the intervening 600-plus years, but I think there is some truth in that.
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Old Oct 18th, 2011, 01:09 PM
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I too prefer Aix to Avignon. Aix has a lot of charm: the fountains, the cafes along the Cours Mirabeau, the market. Great place to wander around.
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Old Oct 18th, 2011, 01:29 PM
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Thanks.

Actually, it isn't a choice between Aix and Avignon. We're using Avignon as a base since it's a good hub to go to other places. We will spend a day or so there.

I was just trying to decide whether we should stop in Aix on the way to Avignon and do a second hotel stay or just go directly to Avignon and go to Aix as a daytrip.

It looks like we'll stop in Aix for a day or so.

Suggested Hotels?
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Old Oct 18th, 2011, 01:48 PM
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If Money is not a problem, I wish I could have stayed at the Villa Gallachi, instead of Le Manoir
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Old Oct 18th, 2011, 03:24 PM
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Do stop/stay in Aix for at least a day and night. I was there only for a day, and fell absolutely in love with the city. It is great for simply wandering. I want very badly to go back and stay a week or so.
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Old Oct 19th, 2011, 01:22 AM
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The food market in Aix is the best I've ever seen, fabulous mouth-watering food of all kinds. Having come from living in England where 'ready meals' are the go, it was wonderful to see the French shopping with a straw basket, hand picking each asparagus stem from the huge pile or to smell the ripe strawberries as you walked past. If you like markets, try and make time for this one. They also sold clothes, shoes, linens etc.

Kay
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Old Oct 19th, 2011, 02:08 AM
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Hotel suggestions.

Yes, I'm trying to keep the cost under control.

120-150E.
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Old Oct 19th, 2011, 07:54 AM
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Hi,

I love Aix and have been there several times. You might like the Saint Christophe http://www.hotel-saintchristophe.com/ hotel, think it is in your price range.I have stayed there several times. It has a nice terrace and a wonderful breakfast.
It is right next to the tourist bureau where you can get a bus to Puyloubier and have lunch at a charming restaurant called Les Sarments. You can dine in the garden looking right up at Mount Sainte Victoire,which Cezanne was obsessed with painting. The bus trip is only about 20 minutes and is very scenic. Cassis is also very charming. The Cours Mirabeau,the main street in Aix is excellent for people watching,my favourite spot is the juice bar, quite near the fountains at the rotunda.
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Old Oct 19th, 2011, 08:46 AM
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Hi Myer, I too loved Aix more. Hub and I made it our base in 2008. Our hotel was the Aqua Bella:

http://www.aquabella.fr/english2005/index.html

Its pool, heated by hot springs, was wonderful to come home to at the end of a big touristy day. It has a restaurant, very nearby garage and is in easy walking distance Hotel de Ville and big square that is market during the day and outdoor bar at night! I think it's Place Richelme. It's on the Rue Codeliers. Lots of food places and great student vibe. IMHO!

We used bus (nearby stop) and van tours (they picked up at the hotel) and were fine. There is a ring road around Aix that raised our hair the first time we were in a taxi.
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Old Oct 19th, 2011, 08:46 AM
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ps-Not sure of price at aquabela.
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