South of France travel itinerary – 24 hours in Aix-en-Provence

South of France travel itinerary – 24 hours in Aix-en-Provence

South of France travel itinerary

During the planning of our road trip in France, we had a few cities in Southern France we could choose from. We were coming down from Annecy, with a stop at lavender fields at Valensole, and eventually, ending up in Normandie. I researched many travel guides about France and found out that Aix-en-Provence was a city with a young vibe, old history, and architecture and was an absolutely a place worth to visit in France.

Aix en Provence

Things to do in and around Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence is a city in Southern France in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. The city was founded in 122 bc and has a beautiful old town and architecture. The city itself is not that big and has a population of approximately 140 000. It has a young vibe due to it being a university city, and approximately 20% of Aix-en-Provence inhabitants are students.
We stayed here for only one night as we were heading towards Montpellier. As it turned out there was not much to do in Aix-en-Provence but it is definitely a great place to have as a base if you are going to explore Provence. There is an incredible amount of day trips with different types of activities you can do around the area.

Visit lavender fields in Valensole – you can read about our experience in Valensole HERE

Day trip to Marseille – it is located only 18 miles (30 km) north of Aix-en-Provence. If you would like to explore Marseille on your own you can check HERE for things to do.

Day trip to The Verdon Canyon, French Grand Canyon – Georges du Verdon is high on my bucket list and I wish I had heard about it before planning our road trip. There are several things you can do while exploring it, like kayaking, climbing, hiking etc. You can also visit small villages located around the canyon – they are supposed to be super beautiful. Driving through Georges du Verdon making it to the viewpoints which have amazing views would be a highlight of the trip. Visiting Georges du Verdon will take you one whole day – so plan accordingly.

valensole, lavender fields, provence

Where to stay in Aix-en-Provence

Being on a road trip is amazing – you get to see so much in a short time. But going from place to place can be rather pricey. Our plan was to stay in cheaper hotels on one-night layovers and more expensive where we would stay for several nights. Our hotel in Aix-en-Provence was an Appart’hôtel Odalys Atrium – an apartment hotel with a bedroom, a living room with a foldout couch, and a kitchenette. The hotel was located about 180 yards (200 m) from the entrance to the old city. We didn’t have breakfast at the hotel as there were plenty of small coffee shops and restaurants within short walking distance. The hotel had its own parking space, although not a big one and wifi was included in the room fare. It was a perfect place for one or two nights stay for 2 adults and a child (11 yo), at the price of approximately of 100 EUR a night. You can book your stay with Appart’hôtel Odalys Atrium HERE

Restaurants in Aix-en-Provence

We arrived from Valensole in the early afternoon, which we found out was too late for lunch and too early for dinner. It seemed that the city had some sort of siesta. We could get any kind of drinks but not food until later. Wandering around hungry for a few hours, having drinks here and there was not the best experience. But we got to explore a little bit of the city. Eventually, we found Le Petit Bistrot at the corner of the main street and finally could have early dinner at 6 pm. The Bistrot didn’t look touristy at all and had amazing burgers, dessert, and wine. The rest of the restaurants looked like any restaurant on any main street in any touristy city. We came off the street but if you are staying in Aix-en-Provence for several nights you should try and book a table at Le Petit Bistrot. I am not sure if they accept reservations, but you can check if they do and their reviews HERE. We were super happy!

Le Petit Bistrot

Le Petit Bistrot

Le Petit Bistrot

As I mentioned above there is not a whole lot to do in Aix-en-Provence. But if you are interested in music, dance, and art, Aix-en-Provence has several museums and libraries. The city hosts two huge musical events each year – Festival d’Aix-en-Provence (opera festival) and Musique dans la Rue (which consist of a week of classical, jazz and popular concerts held in different street venues and courtyards in the city).

During summer time Aix-en-Provence has a market on the main street. Here you can get all different kind of small or larger gifts. I love city walks – you get to see and feel city’s vibe, and the best thing is when you get “lost”. But be kind to your feet and get some comfortable shoes. Check this guide for walking shoes for summertime in Europe

Streets of Aix-en-Provence

Church in Aix-en-Provence

Streets of Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence was a charming city with a chilled vibe. Unfortunately, I founded it a little bit too small and overcrowded for a longer stay. But, again, it is a great base for exploring the region of Provence.

24 hours in Aix-en-ProvenceJust a quick tips for you all ladies travelers – be kind to your feet and use good shoes.

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  1. March 20, 2018 / 5:50 am

    I love the South of France!!! It’s a dream of mine to see the lavender fields and Annecy!

  2. March 7, 2018 / 8:10 pm

    OMG driving through the Georges du Verdon is ON MY BUCKET LIST!!!!!

  3. February 28, 2018 / 10:43 am

    Thanks for sharing your fun and enriching French adventure! ✈️

  4. February 22, 2018 / 5:09 pm

    This looks like a wonderful itinerary! I would love to visit The Verdon Canyon – it just looks so beautiful! The food images in this post look so delicious. French food is the best!

  5. February 22, 2018 / 2:31 pm

    Those lavender fields look like heaven! I can only imagine how wonderful they smelled. And that food…😋. Pinning this for later. France is on my travel bucket list.

    • Travelletters
      February 22, 2018 / 3:49 pm

      I hope you get to visit France, Kristy! It’s a beautiful country, but I would recommend you to skip lavender fields and rather visit Gorges du Verdon 🙂

  6. lifeoutside2by2
    February 22, 2018 / 12:39 pm

    South of France is a dream I worship from afar 😛 the pictures and the food pictures are just soo glorious.. I enjoyed reading about your trip immensely!! I hope you enjoyed it just as much.. 😊

    • Travelletters
      February 22, 2018 / 3:48 pm

      I enjoyed my trip a lot – I love road trips. And I love good food and wine – so France was perfect 🙂

  7. February 22, 2018 / 11:52 am

    This spot seems perfect for me! I love arty places so this ticks all the boxes. Day trips sound great too, those lavender fields are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your tips ☺️

    • Travelletters
      February 22, 2018 / 3:47 pm

      You don’t need many days in Aix, but it’s a great base if you want to explore the region 🙂

  8. Severina Panteleeva
    February 22, 2018 / 10:58 am

    Excellent guide, thanks! I love Provence, but I prefer Burgundy for its lushness, lovely small villages and fewer tourists 🙂

    • Travelletters
      February 22, 2018 / 3:46 pm

      I know what you mean, I loved Burgundy too. Well, I haven’t seen a lot of it, but we stayed one night in Beaune and I loved it 🙂

  9. February 22, 2018 / 10:21 am

    Oh, I wish I’d known about the Verdon Canyon when I visited Aix. We went in 2008 to visit a friend who was teaching there. We spent alot of time with his friends so we managed to kill three days there. I can see how it could have been a bit too chilled out if left to our own devices though.

    • Travelletters
      February 22, 2018 / 3:45 pm

      I wish I knew about Gorges du Verdon before going on a road trip to France too. I would swap it with Lavender fields in Valensole in a heartbeat:)

  10. dysalut
    February 22, 2018 / 2:18 am

    I can just smell the lavender from here! I didn’t know there was a canyon in France. I’m going to look more into it. I’m going to France in August for almost two weeks and was thinking about visiting Marseille. This region seems like its right up my alley.

    • Travelletters
      February 22, 2018 / 7:22 am

      We skipped Marseille and had one night in Aix and 4 nights in Montpellier – and I LOVED Montpellier. But there is so much to do in the region, so you will have wonderfull time. I recommend you book all your activities in advance as August is super crowded in the whole Southern Europe 🙂

  11. February 22, 2018 / 1:51 am

    I’ve heard so much about this part of France. The architecture looks fascinating…I need to go! And that food looks delicious, btw!

    • Travelletters
      February 22, 2018 / 7:20 am

      French cuisine is so fine 🙂 And Provence region is super charming. I really hope you get to visit it one day!

  12. February 22, 2018 / 1:31 am

    Sometimes I love spending a night or two in the ‘sleepy’ towns. It allows us to slow down and just relax for a little while. Thanks for the great tips for visiting this charming town.

    • Travelletters
      February 22, 2018 / 7:19 am

      I know – me too. However, Aix in summer time is so crowded, I had to look for those small empty streets, but I found some 🙂

  13. Neha Kulshrestha
    February 21, 2018 / 9:26 pm

    Always fascinating to explore small towns. The lavender fields look so beautiful.

    • Travelletters
      February 22, 2018 / 7:18 am

      Let me just say that lavender fields was nothing like I expected 🙂

  14. February 21, 2018 / 8:18 pm

    great read! I wanted to go to this part of France so bad when i was there but the trains were canceled out of Paris due to a strike 🙁 next time!!

    • Travelletters
      February 22, 2018 / 7:17 am

      I hope you can go back to France and visit Southern part 🙂

  15. Anuradha Goyal
    February 21, 2018 / 5:52 pm

    Wow. this is almost a 1900 or so year old city – how fascinating. I hope to visit it someday.

    • Travelletters
      February 22, 2018 / 7:16 am

      Europe has a great history and many places that date back to ancient times 🙂

  16. February 21, 2018 / 5:41 pm

    I would really love to see the lavender fields in Southern France – I can almost smell it from here! And I’ve heard such wonderful things about Aix – one of my favorite Rosé wines is from there. Time to put it back up the top of my travel wish list! Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

    • Travelletters
      February 22, 2018 / 7:16 am

      Hi, Erin! I can tell you that lavender fields was nothing like I expected.. I hope you get to tick it off your list 🙂

  17. February 20, 2018 / 2:26 pm

    I would love to eventually travel to France, and this post (I am definitely pinning) has given me some more ideas on what to see. That food looks delicious too.

    • Travelletters
      February 20, 2018 / 8:48 pm

      I love French cuisine 😍 I am so glad to hear that I was able to inspire you. France is a beautiful country – hope you get to see it one day 😍

  18. February 19, 2018 / 3:29 am

    I’ve only ever been to Paris! I need to check out more of France. The lavender fields are highhh on my bucketlist!

    • Travelletters
      February 19, 2018 / 9:06 am

      I hope you get to explore more – Valensole was such a disapointment unfortunately 🙂 But I had super high expectations 🙂

  19. February 18, 2018 / 10:36 pm

    Great guide! Im so glad you included Verdon Gorge – It was the highlight of my France trip 🙂

    • Travelletters
      February 19, 2018 / 9:05 am

      I wish I knew about Gorges before I planned this trip – I would swap it with Valensole in a heartbeat 🙂

  20. February 18, 2018 / 10:30 pm

    Love how thorough this guide is Lena! I haven’t been to the region before but it’s definitely on the bucket list! Your photos make it look amazing. Thanks for sharing!

    • Travelletters
      February 19, 2018 / 9:02 am

      Thank you so much, Maya! I hope you get to explore South of France – it’s really a beautifull area with great food and wine 🙂

  21. Tracey Best
    February 18, 2018 / 10:29 pm

    Oh wow. Sounds like 24 hours is the perfect amount of time. It looks beautiful. Can’t believe how old it is!

    • Travelletters
      February 19, 2018 / 8:57 am

      You know Europe is an old lady, Tracy 🙂 24 hours in the city is enough, but if you want to explore the area you can definitely stay longer 🙂

  22. February 18, 2018 / 10:12 pm

    Wow! This looks amazing. Particularly the food! I haven’t had a chance to spend much time in France, so I’m taking note for the next time we get there.

    • Travelletters
      February 19, 2018 / 8:53 am

      Souther Europe in general is so beautiful, has a lot of history and great food, not mentioning wine or sparkling 🙂

  23. February 18, 2018 / 5:08 pm

    This post is timely as we are staying in Montpellier and will now add Aix en Provence perhaps to stay on our way to Nice.

    • Travelletters
      February 18, 2018 / 5:54 pm

      So cool, Maura! My next one will be on Montpellier. How do you like it there? We loved Montpellier 🙂

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