No matter where I travel, whether domestically or internationally, I always find pleasure in visiting local coffee shops. I love to visit different ones, either by myself or with friends, and take in the culture around me while getting my very necessary caffeine needs met. It’s not only a ritual I enjoy while traveling, but also in my home town. Every coffee shop I visit in my town has a distinct vibe, and I tend to choose where I want to enjoy my latte in whichever place feels compatible with my mood that particular day.
Knowing how often “coffee culture” is ingrained in my life and used as a means to relax and enjoy myself, I was curious to see what Aix had to offer. Upon getting to France, I made it a priority to try out many different types of cafes to see which ones made me feel comfortable, relaxed and at home in my new “home away from home.” If you too are fond of coffee shop/cafe culture and are looking to enjoy the ambiance while sipping a delicious espresso (or coffee drink of your choice) in Aix-en-Provence, I hope you find this blog helpful!
First and foremost, I wanted to disclose before I dive into my favorite coffee shops that the coffee shops I enjoyed most were not always “distinctly French.” I mostly choose these trendy cafes (one may even complain they are somewhat “Americanized”) because I have a pretty prevalent dairy allergy and enjoy having alternative milk options. There are of course many lovely, traditional French cafes scattered all around Aix that I enjoyed visiting, but I didn’t hang out in them as frequently as I did in the following ones I will mention. Let’s get to it! Here are my top 5 favorite coffee shops in Aix-en-Provence.
#5 - Book in Bar
The grand attraction to me about this coffee shop is that it also functions as an international bookstore (which you may have gathered from the name). Located on Rue Joseph Cabassol, it has a large selection of books in English as well as a plethora of other languages available. Although it wasn’t my favorite place to go for its coffee, it does have a very cozy ambiance to study as it is often a friendly environment for many other American university students.
#4 - Coco Bohème
This Mediterranean cafe wins the creativity award for sure! Many people describe it as the “hidden gem” of old town and it certainly lives up to its hype. It is underground with a bunch of cool furniture and unique art. It has many games you can play and an interesting menu of coffee, teas, and yummy Mediterranean food. It’s a great place if you want to come and study or spend the afternoon with your friends.
#3 - Columbus Cafe
This is by far the most “Americanized” coffee shop there is in Aix. Its atmosphere, I would say, closely resembles Starbucks. Although this may seem disappointing to many of you, I found it was an awesome place to get work done. It has an abundance of tables, outlets and other students working hard for their classes. It also has huge-sized coffees with some of the best almond milk I have ever had. Oh, and it has a variety of delicious fresh-baked muffins (I recommend the white chocolate raspberry)!
#2 - Mana Espresso
This small and trendy cafe, in my opinion, had the most delicious espresso in all of Aix. The quality of the food was also superb! They have a variety of avocado toasts, quiches, sandwiches and other things of that nature. They also have amazing desserts (some of which are gluten-free and vegan). My biggest complaint about Mana Espresso is that it is very small in size, so I often felt a bit cramped or stuffy while I was in there for long periods of time.
#1 - La Garde Manger
La Garde Manger takes the cake for my favorite coffee shop in Aix! It has the perfect bright and fresh ambiance to attract me inside, delicious lattes, teas, and desserts, and a perfectly cozy and warm upstairs that gives me a place to study. It’s filled with a great mix of locals and visitors. I highly recommend checking it out if you want to relax and read a book or go hang out with some friends.
Parker Ornellas is the Spring 2019 Alumni Ambassador in Aix-en-Provence, France, and is currently studying at California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo.