South of France travel itinerary
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During the planning of our road trip in France, we had a few cities in Southern France we could choose. We were coming down from Annecy, with a stop at lavender fields on Valensole Plateau, 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 a place worth visiting in France.
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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 town 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 about 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 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.
Day trip to The Verdon Canyon with Viator, 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 fantastic views would be a highlight of the trip. Visiting Georges du Verdon will take you one whole day – so plan accordingly.
Where to stay in Aix-en-Provence
Being on a road trip is fantastic – you get to see so much in a short time. But going from place to place can be somewhat pricey. We planned 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 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 two adults and a child (11 yo), at the price of approximately 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 drinks but not food until later in the afternoon. 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 terrific 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! If you are into food and want to know what French food you have to try before leaving France, you should read Everydaywanderer post here.
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 large 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 kinds of 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
Aix-en-Provence was a charming city with a chilled vibe. Unfortunately, I founded it a little bit too small and overcrowded for a more extended stay. But, again, it is an excellent base for exploring the region of Provence.
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