Here I am in one of my favorite places in the world: Aix-en-Provence.
I have come to this formidable city – once home to Cezanne and Zola – countless times over the past decades and continue to be overjoyed. Whether it’s from the charming 17th and 18th century architecture, the golden light filtering through plane trees, the rococo fountains, the urban shopping, years of childhood memories or the prime location in between the Côte d’Azur and the Camargue; I continue to savor each footstep time and time again.
Each visit, I look forward to my rituals, including:
Kulte : this rock-n-roll concept store (33, Cours Mirabeau) buzzes with silly, obscure, bright and well-designed clothes, objects and accessories. I love their sense of style and spirit. www.kulte.fr
Agnès B: I am a fan of this designer with a heart and timeless style. This particular women’s boutique (2, Rue Fernand Dol) remains my favorite amongst numerous worldwide locations to shop her urban, elegant yet eclectic collections. Taking a stroll in the surrounding Quartier Mazarin, home to antique shops, modern art galleries and incredible buildings, is the key to infinite pleasures. www.europe.agnesb.com
Côté Bastide: across the street from Agnès B, here is a home store that utterly feels like you are tip-toeing through the secret passage to a friend’s château where treasures must be hidden. Linens, tableware, cards, jewelry, gift ideas in all simplicity and good taste. www.cotebastide.com
Fresh Juice: especially in the summer, I urge for one of these freshly squeezed juices (grapefruit with fresh mint is one of my faves) as I gaze the streets of the old-town. Several vendors can be found throughout the city, especially near the rue Espariat and Cours Mirabeau area. What a feeling!
Pizza Capri: cornering the legendary Empire-style brasserie Les 2 Garçons (RDV of the chic and nostalgic) on the Cours Mirabeau, this popular hole in the wall makes a mean fine-crust pizza, for takeaway only. A local find. Tip: all toppings pair divinely well with a fresh glass of local rosé ;o)
Monoprix: one always needs to shop for an extra polish or forgotten hair-brush, and there is no better place to do it then at the centrally located Monoprix at 27, Cours Mirabeau. The lower level is conveniently stocked with groceries, and the second floor with playful home accessories and children’s clothing (the Bout’Chou line is as sweet as its price tags – a must, even for the poshest of French girls).
IV Home : I love the cozy atmosphere of this home boutique (19, rue Paul Bert) which opens our eyes to exotic places with its curious finds scouted across the globe, its unique pieces from local flea markets, and selection of sleek contemporary objects and lamps. It also carries the hip Caravane line of linens and blankets that simply makes you crave for a siesta. www.IVhome.fr. Around the corner, trot the rue Granet for fun daily wear (i.e. Amarine at number 4.)
Emilie & Compagnie: also recent, Emilie & Compagnie is run by a Dutch couple that has flare. I love their selection of organic goods from northern designers, the hand-woven toy boxes lining the top shelf and the hand-knit musical animals. Another fun children’s store is Pepa’s (6, rue Jaubert) for fans of Bonpoint, Jellycat stuffies or design furniture. www.emilieetcompagnie.com
Riederer: walk in to this artisanal pâtisserie and salon de thé (67, Cours Mirabeau) opened in 1780, and take in the floating aroma of chocolate and aesthetic creativity – work of Chef Philippe Segond, Meilleur Ouvrier de France. This Trianon cake combining crunch and mousse will kick you into festive mode (and feel like Marie Antoinette!). A second location café-style is now open for breakfast and lunch (57, rue Espariat) in the old town. www.riederer.fr
Tana: ladies, we always need a boutique where to find a last-minute bijou for a party or a gift, right? Walk in to Tana’s (4, rue Marius Reinaud) and discover a whole lot of girly contemporary creations, by local designers. This street coincidentally happens to be lined with designer boutiques (Maje, Sandro, Berenice, Zadig & Voltaire, Sonia Rykiel, Nodus… ), just in case you need the outfit to match your new piece! For the classic souls out there, the Provençal label Souleiado has also recently relocated here.
Marche à Suivre: this shoe-haven is where I first discovered Luciano Padovan and each time I am in town, I stop in to peek at their cool and off-the-beaten path souliers. Great for eye-candy, or with hubby’s credit card. 5, place des Chapeliers.
Bonus: for the hipsters out there, head to the nearby rue Laurent Fauchier (Aristo) & rue de la Glacière (Carlotta and La Grande Boutique) and rue du Maréchal Foch. Clearly Aix en Provence has a place for all – and is effortlessly walkable!
L’Italien: in the mood for a night-in with fresh stuffed ravioli or home-made linguini, topped with mini mozzarela balls marinated in pesto, tomato tartar and seasoned artichokes? This is THE place to stop and shop, and just what we prepared for dinner last night. And it was mighty fine! 20, rue d’Italie.
Hôtel Villa Gallici: a minute’s walk from the center of town, this luxurious villa boasts a magical terrace in a tranquil country setting made for dreamers. Sit back under its plane trees, listen to the trickling sounds of the water in the fountain, and enjoy. I have adored lunch by the pool, apéritif at sunset and Provençal gourmet dinners. Every time of day is the right time to visit or stay. Should you wish to prolong your escapade and indulge a while longer, the rooms and suites are all elegantly appointed in the local spirit. But of course… it’s a Relais & Châteaux. www.villagallici.com
Feeling a tad guilty about the shopping and in need of culture? Enjoy an exhibit at the Musée Granet, a moment of respite at the majestic Cathedral or take a short stroll to the Atelier Cézanne outside of the city-center to step back in time and picture the artistic genious painting the majestic Ste Victoire.
Happy Shopping et Bon voyage!
PS: I have returned since and wrote a few lines of my newest finds. Click here for the scoop.
Tried it. Loved it. Shared it.