E's hometown of Aix-en-Provence is one I never tire of visiting, and is somewhere I feel strangely at home, after a good few trips there. I also have such special memories from the place, walking around town with some of my closest friends leading up to our wedding, and spending holidays in both summer and winter in that provençal sunshine.
For those who might be thinking of going there (I would definitely recommend it), or if you're curious to know a few of the things I especially love to do when I'm there...
1 :: Strolling down the Cours Mirabeau, enjoying the stalls and people watching.
The Cours Mirabeau is said to be the Champs-Elysées of the South, and it is beautiful. Lined with cafés and restaurants, shops and stalls, it's the heart of the town and where you can find the best gelato around...
2 :: Giovanni Gelateria
A must in the warmer months (and in the cold, too... although you might prefer a Nutella crêpe, or a hot cone of churros) - my favourite flavour there is the salted caramel, no question.
3 :: Getting lost in the narrow streets and enjoying the fountains.
Aix is sometimes referred to as the City of a Thousand Fountains, and they are dotted all around in different shapes and sizes. I just think that they add something so special and unique to Aix, and I love to see little kids dipping their hands into the water on a hot day, and couples resting on the edge whilst enjoying their ice cream.
4:: Les Deux Garçons, the most renowned brasserie in Aix.
Sat right on the Cours Mirabeau, this is the most legendary café in the city, seeped in history and frequented by the likes of Cézanne and Hemingway. The inside is beautiful and glamorous, but I prefer to sit outside and sip on a glass of Pastis (an truly Provençal anise flavoured aperitif). I always feel like I'm in a movie, surrounded by flying French words and listening to the locals chat away. Of course, there are plenty of tourists too, but I never feel like Aix is too flooded with them.
5 :: Perusing the market, sniffing the lavender and buying fresh bread from the boulangerie.
This is probably horribly cliché, but I can't help it! There is such joy in looking around the market with their chalkboard signs and colourful produce, and of course I can't resist the smell that emanates from every bakery around the corner.
I realise that this is not exactly a tour guide (in that it is entirely unhelpful for those who actually want to visit Aix properly), but I've never seen it as a travel destination - it's a home-in-law for me, and it's the little things that make me happiest when I'm there.
Did you know that the Eurostar now goes direct to Marseilles and Avignon? Meaning that visiting Aix has got even easier (although it was already pretty straight forward via Paris), and you should put it on your wanderlust list, right now.
You can read my other posts on Aix here.