When I first arrived in Aix-en-Provence, the entire city seemed to be a maze. The streets were narrow and twisted around the city center in strange, seemingly illogical ways. Much of the “old village” roads were based off of medieval pathways made by farmers and storekeepers. Many of the buildings are actual remnants of history long past, repurposed into shops and restaurants.
To say the least, I easily got lost when I first started walking to and from my apartment. But, as I grew more familiar with the area, I began to frequent certain areas in Aix.
|Carrefour's outdoor seating|
Once a week, I go to Carrefour Bar for CEA’s café hour. The bar was the first place in Aix I visited. When I arrived, we took a taxi straight from the bus station to the bar to meet the other people in our program. Carrefour quickly became a favorite place of mine. No matter what the weather, my friends and I sit side by side beneath the black awning sipping hot chocolate or coffee.
|My favorite boulangerie on the way home|
For lunch, there are two restaurants that I often alternate. On warm, sunny days, I love going to a small boulangerie near IAU. For the longest time, I did not know its name, I only recognized it by the friendly, curly haired woman who owns the store. Every time I enter, she greets me with a smile and encourages me to continue practicing my French. Her store is called La Bio Langerie Aixoise, and it has the most delicious sandwiches. The homemade bread is studded with seeds and packed with flavor. It’s a must for anyone who wants a taste of traditional French breads and lunches.
|A line outside of Baked on a windy afternoon|
On colder days, when the Mistral blasts a cold mountainous wind over town, I go to Baked, a specialty baked potato bar. The rich, homey dishes always warm me up and remind me of family dinners back in Connecticut. It always nice to get a little slice of home while abroad.
|The specialty "Brooklyn" baked potato|
Beyond restaurants, I love going to Park Vendome. I’ve been there twice for classes, and several times on my own just to do homework. The park is a wide, nearly symmetrical garden with wide benches and willowy trees. While no one is allowed to lie in the grass, the park is a wonderful breath of fresh air within the city. The calm but lively atmosphere is a perfect environment for taking photos, writing essays, or just chatting with friends.
|Some of Park Vendome's many benches|
My apartment is just a few streets away from Aix’s main avenue, the Cours Mirabeau. It’s one of the most iconic places in Aix, and is a great place to walk in the mornings. It’s speckled with street performers, and the buzz of conversation and warmth of countless restaurants invite people to hang out in the street, leaning against buildings and fountains. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, the Cours is especially lively because of the grand marché. Dozens of vendors gather from the Provence region, and the street is colorful with the fabric of scarves, jackets, boots, and purses.
|A woman shopping for hats at the grand marché|
As much as I love these particular places in Aix, I can say with confidence that no matter where I go, I'll always be happy so long as I'm with my friends!
|With friends on a trip to Barcelona|
Madeleine C. is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO in Aix-en-Provence, France. She is currently a junior studying English at University of South Carolina.
Madeleine Collins is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in Aix-en-Provence, France, and is currently studying at University of South Carolina.