Original post-July 28, 2019 | Updated post-June 27, 2023
Our summer vacation was wrapping up, and we picked the last few days of our getaway to enjoy the charm of Southern France. On our way home from our 7-day Western Mediterranean Cruise, we opted to drive a good 3.5 hours from Genoa, Italy, to France’s Southeastern coastal region in Cassis (pronounced Kah-see). We were making our way up to our final destination, Aix-en-Provence (pronounced like the letter X).
Aix-en-Provence, located in Southern France, is a city full of French charm and is quaint in its own way. I picked this location on a whim during our summer vacation planning stages. Taking High School French class, I’d hear about all these cute French, Provincial towns to visit, one being Aix-en-Provence. The main reason for this visit was to explore France’s Provence region and visit the local lavender fields not far from Aix. You can find my lavender blog post here.
Facts About Aix-en-Provence
Brimming with quaint cafés, vibrant open-air markets, and cobblestone streets, you’d never believe that Aix-en-Provence was once a spa town. Founded by the Romans in 123 B.C., Aix was called Aquae Sextiae (The Waters of Sextius) due to the discovery of natural thermal water. This discovery lead to the development of Roman spas around the town.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the city became known as the City of a Thousand Fountains. Today, you can find many of these fountains around the city! You can’t drink out of the fountains but can find locals and tourists cooling off around them. As you keep reading, I’ve included some photos of the fountains we found below.
Our home away from home was this amazing Airbnb. I picked this place simply for the location, the reviews were great, and parking was free. We drove our car, so parking was necessary when searching for an Airbnb near the city. The city center itself was only a 5-minute walk from the place. Additionally, as a bonus, a grocery store was nearby within walking distance.
When we arrived, we checked into our Airbnb and walked to the City Center to explore and find dinner. As we found the City Center, already the place was bustling with people, and this was late Sunday afternoon; although most of the shops were already closed, the restaurants were open.
I wasn’t sure if any of the stores had been open for the day on Sunday as we arrived late in the afternoon, but the restaurants were definitely busy. Outdoor open markets were also lined up along the main street filled with vendors selling their local goods.
I kept eyeing this one vendor with woven Basket weaved bags. My goal for this trip was to buy one of these woven bags I’ve been oogling over on Instagram French pages I follow. After much deliberation, I finally bought a bag, which only cost me 15 Euros. Also, I bought this Turkish blanket/towel that was 20 Euros. My other goal was to visit the Tuesday morning Open-Air French Provincial Markets; that will be on another post.
We took that afternoon just walking along the city and exploring on our own. We didn’t really have an itinerary, we just wanted to explore. Here are some photos:
We stopped for some gelato (an obligatory thing to do at every place we visit for the girls). For dinner, I wanted authentic French dishes, so we ate at a local Bistro. I had the Plat de Jour of pasta, my husband had a salmon tartare, while my youngest had the steak burger, and my oldest daughter had the broccoli ravioli. My oldest was not impressed with her ravioli, my youngest loved her steak burger, my husband liked his salmon tartare and I thought the pasta was decent.
On our way back to our Airbnb, we stopped at the local French supermarket called Casino (which I thought was an actual game Casino). The grocery store reminded me of a bigger 7/11 convenience store minus the gas but was a full-on grocery store. I had fun looking around the store and buying some essentials we needed.
That concluded our first night in Aix-en-Provence, and I am already falling in love with this French city and its charms. I hope this will also convince you to explore this city one day! Till next time adventurers! Au Revoir, Au bien tout!