About the City of Provence
Provence is a region situated in South Eastern France, bordering Italy in the East and the Mediterranean Sea to the South. A place known for its surreal beauty attracts millions of tourists every year. It corresponds to the administrative region of Provence de-Alps-Cote- de-Azure and includes cities like-Marseille, Avignon, Nimes, Aix- en- Provence, Arles, Orange, and many others. Moving south towards the French Riviera, cities like Nice and Cannes reside. Famous for the popular Film festival and award ceremonies, towns of Southern France attract tourists from all spheres of life.
During the Paleolithic age, Provence experienced a significant climatic change and has seen changes in sea level also. After the Roman invasion, this area was the first Roman province beyond the Alps. The name Provence is derived from there.
Provence is famous for its sunny weather, picturesque countryside, food, wine, and of course its language (Provencal). Food in Provence includes crusty baguettes, whole grain loaves, and pan bagnat sandwich filled with tuna, olives, tomato, and peppers. They are garnished with olive oil dressing.
Provence has no particular visiting season and remains enjoyable throughout the year. Summers here offer a bountiful scene of lavender, sunflower, and cigales at the backdrop. While fall is the best season kept secret, you can enjoy grape harvesting.
If you visit in the winter season, you will notice that the temperature hardly falls below freezing point, so you can enjoy the warm, sunny beaches to the fullest. Other parts of the region though will be slightly snow covered, and you will require warm clothing. Not to forget, Provence is a great place.
With departmental stores like Bouches- du- Rhone, Vaucluse, and Alpes – De- Haute, there is no dearth of fulfilling the shopaholic’s desire for designer wear.
Aix-en-Provence is easily accessible from other cities by train, bus, and airways. Each town has a good network of cycle and bikers may have the privilege to ride around the city to reach facilities like supermarket, restaurants, hospitals and community halls.
The primary language spoken in Provence is Occitan while the other spoken languages are French, Roman, German, Celtic style and of course English. Nowadays, English speakers never feel any language barrier in any country.
Getting Around in Provence
The process of commuting in Provence is very convenient. You can avail bus, train and also the flight to connect to other parts of the region.
Traveling by bus is comparatively cheaper. Once outside the airport, you may avail bus service from the station to other cities. You may purchase tickets either from the bus station or might be inside the bus. You will get regular buses to Marseille at 4.10 Euros which leaves every half an hour. There are eight buses to Cassis which costs around 13 Euros per round trip. Buses traveling to Nice are three per day and costs 20 Euros per adult and 14 Euros for the students. Moving to Avignon will cost 21 Euros round trip while traveling to Arles will cost you 11 Euros.
You may connect to other cities in Provence via Eurail at the minimum cost. This includes cities in other countries too. Commuting to Paris, London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt are very popular routes. The train traveling within Provence will be available but will be bit costlier than bus rates. Tickets are classified as general and first class. You may download the mobile application of Aix-en-Provence bus service and can book directly from there. It’s better if you buy a sim card against your passport. You can get a wide array of flights that operate from Aix-en-Provence to other cities.
There are some memorable trips which tourists usually opt while they want to tour Provence. The best is to travel by car. If you have around two weeks in hand, then you can make the best utilization of your traveling spirit. For travelers’ convenience, let me suggest you a convenient route which I preferred while I visited the place.
Trip of 14 days: Arles and day trip to Pont du Gard and Les Baux, then a night in Cotes du Rhone village, and a day in Avignon, a day in Cassis, a day in Luberon, a day in Grand Canyon du Verdon, a day in Antibes, a day in Nimes, a day in Marseilles, a day in Aix-en-Provence, and ending with a day in Camargue.
Aix is a pure Provencal city which is famous for many reasons. It has attracted vacationers from the North; it’s a shopping town and favorite place for students who prefer to study in the French Language as well as various other International Universities. It’s also considered a vibrant city with clean and comfortable surroundings.
Getting to Aix-en-Provence
Flight: You can take a trip from Marseille or Nice. There are several budget flights available from Nice. Alternatively, you can avail shuttle buses from the airport to bus stations.
Train: Aix is well accessed by train from all over the country. It has TVG and regular stations as well. It’s well connected with Paris- Marseille and also the Genoa- Nice-Barcelona line. A shuttle operates between the airport and Aix TVG station. You may avail regular trains from Place Victor Hugo, which is just a 5-minute walk from the center of town.
Motorbike: This place is well connected by bus routes from all major cities of the country. You may use the A 7 motorway running from Lyon to Marseille. You can take A8 route connecting Aix. While traveling from Spain, you may opt for the A9 highway. While going from Italy, try to consider the A8 direction passing from Nice and the Cote de Azur. Although you cannot avoid toll gates, traveling through motorways have always been a pleasure.
Bus: The expressway from Marseille to Aix takes around 30-40 minutes.
There are various places of interest in Aix en Provence. It’s famous for fountains. Most of the fountains are on Cours Mirabeau which is mainly moss-covered. Aix is known to the world for architectural excellence. The doors, bell towers throughout Aix are made from wrought iron.
City market is a happy place, but the most colorful is the Saturday market, that includes flower market at Place de l’Hotel de Ville and central food market at Place Richelme. It’s known as the place of Cezanne. Never miss his atelier with some originals paintings that dwell till date. You may visit the Manor of Jas de Bouffan which houses his masterpiece. Try visiting the Granet Museum which proudly preserves the paintings of French artists during the 15th to 19th centuries.
There are various things to do in Aix en Provence. You can meander around the streets observing the crooked Roman architecture, elegant fountains and boutiques or you may opt for an authentic taste of Provence at Le Pastis. Not just that, you can also indulge yourself in activities like billiards, pubs, cinema, and clubs.
Getting Around Aix-en-Provence City
You may rent a cycle for 10 Euros per hour and take a ride around the town. You will enjoy roaming the city and watching the beautiful buildings. There are buses that leave from Rotonde heading for St. Victoire which will get you there in maximum 10 minutes. You may pack your lunch and spend time climbing mountains or might be a monastery where you’re sure to bring water and firewood.
If you are a food lover, you’re welcome to Aix en Provence. It is a paradise of fine dining, bistros, cafes, casuals and local hunts. Never miss a visit to any of the restaurants that mark the number one place in Aix.
L’Espirit de la Violette: This high-quality restaurant is led by Marc de Passio, situated near a beautiful garden. You will love the contemporary menu, amouse bouche, and dessert.
Le Poivre D’Ane: Located near city square, you should visit this restaurant for a perfect night out. The red and orange décor creates a warm retro atmosphere, and you will be served with cuisine with a personalized touch. Enjoy the appetizer, meat, fish, cheese, and of course dessert.
Le Contrepoint: The cozy brasserie will serve you with the best of a French and American blend of cuisine. Enjoy mouth-watering juicy burgers. You will love the relaxed atmosphere and quaint locale.
Mitch: It’s a magical restaurant located in the midst of the city. Enjoy French cuisine served over here with music and comfortable lounge. Enjoy the pleasant summer evenings here.
L’Alcôve: Situated at Rue Constantin, this restaurant sits in the thick cubicle, which has turned into a cozy fine dining establishment. You will just love the décor with soft lavender colored warm candles brightening up the dark nooks.
Le Patio: The décor will make you feel at home like when you come to your friend’s place to enjoy lunch. The extensive children’s art cover and a clothesline will make you feel adorable.
You will get a host of other restaurants which you will enjoy and cherish throughout your journey.
Being a French-speaking city, it’s always an advantage if you can learn a bit of French and try interacting with shopkeepers, restaurant owners, and drivers. But if you’re not versant with French, good knowledge of English with a bit of expertise in French salutations will do the trick.
France is a free country, so you’re free to dress at your will. Shorts and trunk tops for women are welcome, so is casual dressing for men.
You can smoke and drink to your heart’s will. However, it’s advisable to be courteous and respectful to other people and avoid any racial comment. France has suffered severe terrorist attacks in the recent past, so avoiding any uncertain situation is always recommended. Never refuse any baggage check-in at any public place, restaurants or might be the historical places. Students here are expected to adhere to strict rules and regulations in the country.
Aix en Provence is brimming with nightclubs and a host of nightlife. Enjoy chilling beer and other drinks along with loud music and dance. If you’re fond of dance bars, then always make a point to visit Le Diva, Le Murano, Au p’tit quart d’heure, IPN, O’Shannon, Le Castle, AL Julietta, Cutback, Chez Lucienne, and Le Germinal amongst the notables. And, if you’re still left with energy, you can enjoy a traditional Parisian dance at Jogging Rose where the cancan dancers and charming singers enjoy champagne and dine passionately.