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Living in Aix-en-Provence: What To Do, Where To Go, and What To See

When in Aix-en-Provence

Food and Drink
Coffee: Coffee To Go
Where: 20 rue Jacques de la Roque, 13100 Aix-en-Provence
How to find it: Coffee To Go is just past the Cathedral Sainte Sauver and Science Po, on the right.
What makes it so special: This is hands down the best coffee I have ever had; better than Starbucks, Dunkin, and even Wawa (blasphemy, I know!). The guy who runs Coffee To Go, Adrien Senac, was trained as a barista in Australia, and he seriously knows how to make a mean espresso.
What to order: My favorites are the iced caramel latte (un latte glace du caramel) or a flat white. But honestly, anything you get will be excellent.
Crêpes: Crêpes â Gogo
Where: 2 Avenue Victor Hugo, 13100 Aix-en-Provence
How to find it: From Cours Mirabeau, head towards the Rotunde take a left towards Avenue Victor Hugo. As you walk, you'll pass stairs to an underground tunnel that leads to the other side of the street, and inside you'll find this delicious crêperie. Just follow the smell.
What to order: Like most crêperies, Crêpes â Gogo serves two types of crêpes: savory (salty) or sucré (sweet). The classic when-in-France-go-to-crêpe is Nutella and banana (un crêpe au Nutella et banane), but some of my favorites are spinach and goat cheese (aux epinards et chèvre) and egg and cheese (aux oeufs et fromage).
Boulangerie: Jacob's Boulangerie
Where: 45 Rue d'Italie - 13100 Aix-En-Provence
How to find it and what to get: The best thing about this boulangerie is that it is only a two minute walk from IEFEE. And with those half hour breaks between classes, there's always enough time to run over to Jacob's and grab a goat cheese and tomato panini and a pain au chocolat. Oh, and they have chocolate chip baguettes. Need I say more?
Dessert: Pâtisserie Béchard
Where: 12 Cours Mirabeau, 13100 Aix-en-Provence
How to find it:  
Béchard is right on Cours Mirabeau, and it's hard to miss with the flocks of people
that crowd the front of the store, squishing their noses up against the windows. 
What makes it so special: Béchard has been rightfully boasting the best pastries in
Aix for over 100 years, so it's no wonder that it is constantly overflowing with
locals and tourists alike.
While you're here: While you're here, you should try the Callisons, traiditional Provencal
sweets made with ground almonds and candied fruits. Aaand wouldn't hurt to taste
the eclaires as well, they're pretty incredible.
Macarons: Meresse Macarons
Where: 29 Rue Mar Foch, 13100 Aix-en-Provence
Why Meresse: Some say that Meresse is home to the best macarons in the world, and it offers a broad range of exotic flavor combinations, such as fois gras and fig, salmon, peach and champagne, and chocolate and coconut. They are exquisite. 
Chocolate: Puyricard
Where: 7-9 Rue Rifle Rafle, 13100 Aix-en-Provence
How to find it: Puyricard is just past the Palais Justice on the right.
What makes it so special: Step into Puyricard, and you will be overwhelmed with the number of chocolates available at your disposal. Seriously, you have to see it to believe it.
For drinks: Pub O Shannon's
Where:  30 Rue de la Verrerie, 13100 Aix-en-Provence
How to find it: After around 11:00 pm (at the earliest), head uphill from Cours Mirabeau and, seriously, just follow the noise.
What makes it so special: O Shannons is the place to go if you're going out in Aix. It's probably Aix's most popular bar, so much so that loud beer drinkers overflow from the pub and spill into the streets.
What to order: Pastis, a anise-flavored liqueur that Provence is famous for.
*Dancing: Now that you've had a couple drinks, walk just up the street to the Scat Club, which will be on your right. Scat is known for it's live jazz bands every night. Later on, hit up Le Mistral, IPN, and Woohoo.
Late-night snackin': Pizza Capri
Where: There are three Pizza Capri locations in Aix. THREE.
  • 1 rue Fabrot, 13100 Aix-en-Provence
  • 48-50 Place Richelme, 13100 Aix-en-Provence
  • and 48 rue Espariat, , 13100 Aix-en-Provence
What makes it so special: The reason behind that crazy crowd that's always pushing toward Pizza Capri is its fresh, mouth-watering pizza slices which are entirely homemade with fresh ingredients and given to you within seconds, fresh out of the oven.
What to order: A French classic is "pizza royale", which is ham, fresh mushrooms, emmental cheese, and homemade tomato sauce. If you're feeling adventurous, they even have a Nutella and Smarties (similar to M&M's) pizza.
Tip: Don't be afraid of the crazy mob of hungry, pizza-craving customers who can't seem to form a line! The employees at Pizza Capri are incredibly quick, and you will have your pizza in no time. Just make like the French and elbow your way to the front.
The Essentials
Studying: Book In Bar
Where: 4 Rue Joseph Cabassol, 13100 Aix-en-Provence
How to find it: If you're coming from Cours Mirabeau, turn right onto Rue Joseph Cabassol and Book In Bar will be on your right. Look for the Union Jack sign that hangs just above the door.
What makes it so special: Book In Bar is an international bookstore. It's possible to find books not only in French and English, but also in Swedish, Portuguese, Russian, and any other language you could possibly imagine. With it's quirky late 1950's music and that warm, oaky feeling of dusty stacks of foreign books, Book in Bar is a real gem. For me, it's a taste of home, as bookstores where you can sit for hours and type away on your computer can be difficult to find in France. It's a great spot to study and/or meet up with friends. And it helps that their hazelnut lattes (though crazy expensive!) are divine.
Grocery Shopping: The Markets
Le Petit Marché:
Where: Near the Palais de Justice
When: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings, 8:00 am - 1:00 pm
Le Grand Marché:
Where: Place Richelme
When: Every morning from 8:00 am - 1:00 pm
What makes them so special: The markets are filled with fresh local produce, spices, clothing, and trinkets. They are the perfect places to do some grocery shopping, and you can often find some pretty fantastic souvenirs!
Tip: If you're in need of a more extensive shopping trip, check out Dia (1 Rue Lapierre, 13100 Aix-en-Provence) for cheap prices and knock-off brand products, and Monoprix (27 Cours Mirabeau, 13100 Aix-en-Provence) for a bigger, more comprehensive selection.
Church: Le Cathédrale Sainte Sauveur
Where: 34 Place des Martyrs-de-la-Résistance, 13100 Aix-en-Provence
How to find it: Head uphill from Cours Mirabeau and just listen for the bells. It's across from Sciences Po, you can't miss it.
A little history: This Roman Catholic cathedral dates back to the 5th century, and was built on top of a piece of the Roman road, the Via Aurelia. The architecture is quite the site to see, with a melange of Baroque, Gothic, ad Romanesque styles.
Out and About
Shopping: Centre Commercial Les Allées Provençales
Where: Avenue Joseph Villevieille, 13090 Aix-en-Provence
How to find it: If you're coming from Cours Mirabeau, go around the Rotunde and you'll see this bright and shining new shopping center on your left.
The shops: Zara, H&M, Sephora, Monoprix, etc.
Tip: Aix-en-Provence is often referred to as the "little Paris", and is full of charming little boutiques, especially when you ascend past Cours Mirabeau. But don't be surprised, Aix is also known for being very expensive. If you're looking for some better prices, do like the locals do and grab a bus to Marseille.
People watching: Cours Mirabeau
Where: Literally, just pick any cafe or restaurant on Cours Mirabeau and you'll be all set. Grab a seat on the terrace and prepare to watch the world go by.
My favorite: Les Deux Garcons is a traditional and historical brasserie right on the center of Cours Mirabeau, which dates back to 1840 (53 Cours Mirabeau, 13100 Aix-en-Provence). The architecture is stylish and charming, and the ceilings are definitely worth checking out.
Tip: Anywhere on Cours Mirabeau (restaurants, cafes, etc.) is going to be more expensive than the back streets. You are paying for the location and for the view, but it's absolutely necessary to do at least once.
A hike with a view: La Montagne Sainte Victoire
How to get there: From the Gare Routiere, take the L 140 Vauvenargues bus from the Gare Routiere, and ask the bus driver to let you off at the Barage du Bimont bus stop.
What makes it so special: The St. Victoire Mountain was the subject of many of Paul Cezanne's paintings, and reaches 3,317 ft at its highest point. It is the perfect place to go for hiking, rockclimbing, paragliding, and caving. And from the top is the very best view of Provence.
Green Spaces
Where to bring a picnic lunch: Parc Jourdan
Couronne Urbaine, 13100 Aix-en-Provence
Where to go to get away: Promenade de l'Arc
Avenue De l'Arc de Meyran, 13100 Aix en Provence
Where to go for a run: La Torse
  • 69 cours Gambetta, 13100 Aix-en-Provence

Lindsay Bayne is the Spring 2014 CEA MOJO in Aix-en-Provence, France. She is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh. 
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