I am back from Aix-en-Provence, afresh with new places to add to my local rituals recently published.
Charles: a cozy men’s boudoir with flare and a story. When asked why he named his boutique Charles (his name is Paul), the 25-year old dandy smiled and proudly uttered « I have been inspired for years by my grandfather who was an elegant gentleman with an incredible collection of shirts ».
Paul grew up in the colourful city of Arles in the South of France and his esprit décontracté yet élégant is assuredly the fruit of his upbringing. Amid relaxing tunes playing on his MacBook and the scent of a Roma Nespresso flowing through the air, one takes great pleasure in inspecting every detail of his collection of shirts (each one is limited in number). Meanwhile, Paul narrates his monthly travels to Northern Italy or England where he visits his reputed suppliers (Cotonificio Albini, Tessitura Monti and Thomas Masson).
In a gist, Paul is a true commerçant who did well trading in his marketing degree to be in contact with people! As of June 2012, ask to browse his 100% customized sample book. Open Tuesday thru Saturday. 10, rue Granet.
Kusmi Tea: Each new boutique seems more attractive than the last @ Kusmi Tea! Can you spot the door handle below?
I was thrilled to discover this very first Aix–en-Provence location that opened 2 weeks ago in the prime shopping area of the old town. Mais, couldn’t you just imagine a table to pair your cup-o-tea with scones or cupcakes whilst listening to the water trickle in the nearby fountain? 2, rue des Bagniers.
L’Epicerie: salon de thé, kitchen utensils, épicerie fine stocked with wines, coffee, chocolates, Rhums, Whiskies… Head to the remote Place des 3 Ormeaux in the historic part of town to enjoy a fresh lunch (tartes, salades, regional specialties) or late morning coffee by the fountain, as you deliciously check-out passersby from behind your black shades. Website under construction. www.lepicerie.pro
Brémond: the 1830’s manufacturer of Calissons (a local specialty with almonds) which I discovered this past May (about time!) as we were planning our son’s christening. Their personalized miniatures (holds 9 mini calissons) are a sweet idea for events. 16, rue d’Italie.
Should you desire to do as the chicissime locals, queue with the tourists and the rest of us @ Béchard (13, Cours Mirabeau), another local institution for confiserie and pâtisserie. I must admit that their fruits confits at Christmas time are a family tradition.
First: If you shop the boutique for the latest collections (7, rue Fabrot), I feel for your husband. Now if you visit their second floor showroom down the street (5, rue Papassaudi) which is stocked with discounted Prada, Miu Miu, Chloé and the lot, that’s uber fun !
La Maison du Château (20mn by car, outside of the city): If you’re seeking a quintessential city escape to mingle with bon vivants over lunch or dinner: bienvenue. This old retreat in the tiny village of Châteauneuf-le-Rouge, overlooking the majestic mountain of Ste Victoire and turned hip provençal bistro without the fuss, has become our local favorite. I spotted this by getting the team at Kulte boutique going on their favorite places to eat out.
Highlights: fun staff, open-roof terrace, spacious layout, cool atmosphere and decor, and very tasty (Jean-Marc Eyherabide is in the kitchen). We highly recommend the salmon with potato gauffre, the burger with foie gras and morels/truffle sauce, the sea bass, the tournedos, the millefeuille … need we go on?
Tip: if you are in the region July 1st 2012, and would like to get a sense of Provençal cooking, don’t miss the Festivale de la Gastronomie Provençale in Châteauneuf-le- Rouge! A day to mingle “under the stars“ with a fine line up of Michelin-rated gastronomes from across the country and to tag along with regional Chefs.
PS : Be on the lookout for my post on Château la Coste winery & Arts Centre (opened under one year ago) with its one of a kind lineup of world-renowned artists and architects including Nouvel, Ando, Bourgeois, Shannon, Gillick among my favorite works. A peaceful hideaway and fun for the whole family (30mn by car from Aix).
Tried it. Loved it. Shared it.