Aix-en-Provence: Discovering Southern France’s Charming City

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.

Airbnb Stay

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.

Our favorite spot; this outdoor area at the Airbnb

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.

Our walk from the AirBnb to the city centre

One of many fountains we found around the city

Fountain Augustin

I can’t get over the blue shutters, it’s a common exterior design here!

I think this is by far my favorite photo I took of Aix-en-Provence; this photo says everything about this charming French city!

Fountaine de la Rotonde, where the 3 figures on top represent justice, agriculture, and fine arts. This is also the start of the City Centre and where the Town Markets begin.

Well-known Pastry shop in Aix! Unfortunately, they were closed that day (Sunday).

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.

The city centre: Cours Mirabeau: “Champs-Elysees of Provence”
The start of where the Open Air Market begins

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:

I love the charming old look of the buildings around Aix!

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.

My oldest enjoying her gelato
Enjoying our smoothie, which is huge here on the menus as I have noticed.
Dinner at this Bistro
The menu specials
Steak Burger my youngest order, although she was expecting an actual burger
Salmon tartare
Ravioli, not what we expected
The busy bistro eating area

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.

I love checking out grocery stores everywhere we go
We were only able to self checkout; then again, this was at 1900 in the evening

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!

4 thoughts on “Aix-en-Provence: Discovering Southern France’s Charming City”

  1. I am loving the architecture, fountains and cobbled streets in Aix-en-Provence. It is always interesting to see how dishes you order come out in different countries. All part of the adventure.

    1. Thank you so much for reading my post! Aix-en-Provence truly is beautiful and I hope you get to visit one day! The dishes were very interesting! As much as we appreciated trying the local dishes, we were still craving some burgers after that meal lol, but it’s nice to be able to try them.

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