Having an ‘Aix-ellent’ time in Aix-en-Provence!
Okay, it is an irresistible play on words, but it is also the truth… I had an Aix-ellent time in Aix-en-Provence! It was SUCH a beautiful place! It was a Roman Spa town once upon a time, so everywhere you go the buildings are of gorgeous golden stonework, the streets are cobbled and every few blocks there is little square to rest in and adorned with the relaxing trickle of one of Aix’s many fountains. It means that it feels like you are in a peaceful haven even in the middle of a bustling university city!
My French school was right next to the old town, literally 10 minutes walk from the famous Cours Mirabeau and the Café Deux Garcons where Albert Camus used to hang out. It was awesome! Plus, the weather in Aix is amazing, clear blue skies most of the year round – they actually get 300 days of sunshine annually! Even in early spring (which is when I went) I could comfortably sit outside on a café terrace, lap up the sunshine and relax, watching the French world go by.
It is no wonder that Aix is such an ‘outdoor’ city. Their fabulous open air markets sell the most scrumptious cheeses, oils, breads, not to mention flowers, crafts and antiques! The restaurants that don’t have an outdoor dining area are few. The locals even socialize outside and it wasn’t uncommon to see elderly gents, alongside young families, alongside chatting students, all hanging out around the lovely fountains, squares and paved boulevards of Aix. And when your surroundings are so utterly lovely who can blame them! I became quite taken with the idea and even hired a bicycle to explore the area more. Although, I warn you, those gorgeous rolling Provence hills can be quite a test to an under-prepared cyclist like me. Ha ha, although it did mean I worked up quite an appetite for all the delicious wine and cheese I consumed!
I really did fall in love with Aix-en-Provence. Every single day a pleasure; whether I was hanging out on the terrace of my French school and chatting with my lovely teachers… and the school was located right in the centre of Aix, so after class I’d often wander down the beautiful, narrow old streets that are so typical of Aix, to get a coffee, or a glass of wine in an outdoor terrace, chat about life and watch the world go by…Ooh, the memories!… whether I was shopping in the market for fruit and veg, or whether I was simply strolling through the old town and admiring the centuries old fountains, I just loved every minute in Aix. It was a wonderful place to immerse myself in French, enjoy the laid back Provencal way of life… escaping from the rush of things back home… It was a real break, a great way to learn the language and an experience I will never ever forget it!