Posted by: vlibrizzi | May 4, 2009

Six Days in Provence: Aix and Marseilles

A few months ago, for a Christmas gift, my mother-in-law gave me the book, “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle. Eager to learn all I could about my new country, I dove into the book as soon as I got on the plane for France. I loved Mayle’s stories about dealing with French workers, learning to love one’s pesky neighbors, and just generally getting used to the “vie francaise”….it was a great introduction to my new home-away-from-home. 

But, besides being my French primer, the book, most of all, whetted my appetite to visit Provence. As I finished the book, huddled under my covers in my chilly apartment in Fontainebleau, I dreamed of the day in the spring when, I too, would sit on the Cous Mirabeau in Aix watching the fashionable people walk by as I sip on a strong pastis. 

Then, after enduring a really chilly January and February here in Fonty, going to Provence shot right up to the top of  the “places I most want to go in France” list. 

So, on Wednesday, for C.’s P2 break, we drove the seven hour drive down to Provence through rolling French wine country in our dear Francois (our shiny gold Citroen…yes, I named him!). 

We had such an amazing trip that I couldn’t truly capture the whole experience in only one blog entry, so instead, I decided to break my blog entries up into three entries that focus on the three main cities/regions we visited. 

First, for this blog entry: Aix-en-Provence.


dsc_0183On Wednesday, after stopping mid-way between Fonty and Provence in Lyon for a fabulous lunch (we’ll surely be making a trip back to Lyon in the future), we arrived in Aix in the late afternoon. We checked into our lovely chambre d’hote, chatted with the owner, a very gregarious frenchwoman named Dominique, and then headed into town for dinner (see photo of the main fountain in town to the left). 

dsc_0225We started our visit by walking on the famous Cours Mirabeau, a tree-lined street (in the photo to the left) which is filled with shops, and lots of beautiful people. We stopped for a drink (of wine, not pastis….pastis is way too strong for us!) at a cafe and enjoyed sitting in the warm sun. 


dsc_0182Then, we lazily walked over to a restaurant (Le Passage, in the photo to the left) which is part cooking school, part restaurant and enjoyed our first Provencal meal. C. had provencal lasagna which he loved!




dsc_0193The next morning, after having a long discussion about French and American politics with Dominique over coffee, we headed into town to do some more sightseeing. We did a bit of shopping at the local market (of course!), and then had lunch at an outside cafe. It was actually so hot outside, but we didn’t mind, and chose the table with the least bit of shade! 

dsc_0226In the afternoon, we drove uphill to visit the famous French impressionist painter, Paul Cezanne’s, actual studio (Note: The photo to the left is of his house. You can’t take photos in the actual studio room)! We took a guided tour (in English, thank goodness!) of his studio and then walked through his gardens. Visiting the studio really helped us understand why his paintings are so beautiful….you can see the colors in his palate just by walking through his garden!

dsc_0239After visiting the studio, we drove about 30 minutes south to Marseilles for dinner. We walked around the Vieux Port (Old Port) and loved being by the ocean. But, we weren’t too impressed with the town. It’s not at all like Aix, which is a small, cute town. Instead, it is a big city with lots of gritty neighborhoods, but with some beautiful sights, like the photo to the left.

Then, we had dinner under the stars in Marseilles and headed back to Aix to rest up for our next day visiting Le Baux and the Pont du Gard….



  1. You got a car?!?

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