48 hours in Aix en Provence, France
A city for adventure and rejuvenation
Situated just above Marseille and about three hours from Paris by train, the small city of Aix boasts quaint, cobblestone streets filled with the sound of southern French accents and the scent of lavender. It’s perfect for a weekend getaway spent strolling the streets and adventuring through the countryside. From the best hiking trails to the most luxurious spa in town, here is your ideal trip itinerary.
WHERE TO STAY
For ultimate relaxation, look no further than Hôtel Aquabella. Located just ten minutes by foot from the famous tree-lined streets of Cours Mirabeau, this quiet retreat features an expansive Mediterranean garden, a spa that offers collagen facials, and a large outdoor pool. Book a “privilege room” for an unbeatable private terrace view over Aix’s old town.
For those looking for a more historical experience, check into Hôtel des Augustins. Located in the city center, this 15th century converted convent boasts modern rooms with the option of a terrace view.
Start the day with Alex and Ben, a friendly couple from London that serves market-fresh meals at a tiny café called Mana Espresso. Make sure to try the matcha latte and green smoothie bowl topped with quinoa granola and fresh fruit. Then, head to the farmer’s market at Place Richelme and pick up some charcuterie, cheeses, and a baguette for a picnic lunch. Rent a car for the day or hire a driver and head to Mont Sainte Victoire, featured in many of Paul Cézanne’s paintings from the South of France. Hundreds of Aixois and tourists hike these trails every day, and you’re likely to find amicable traveling companions heading toward the peak of the mountain, or La Croix de Provence, a monument dating back to 1875. Get your energy up for the two-hour journey to the top, and get your camera ready for fantastic views. Refuel with a leisurely lunch under the cross at the summit before hiking back down.
After the drive back, head to the spa at the Aquabella Hotel and have a much needed “Angel in Gold” massage, which focuses on the seven points of energy in your body. For dinner, stroll down the lively Cours Mirabeau and find Ferretti Ristorante at the very end. This small, tucked-away, Italian restaurant has a relaxed and cozy atmosphere. Don’t miss the tagliatelles au pouple de Roche.
Spend the morning like the locals and sip an espresso outdoors at Brasserie Les Deux Garçons. Once frequented by Cézanne, Picasso, Albert Camus, and many more, this café has prime real estate on Cours Mirabeau, perfect for people-watching. Grab a petite "tarte de fruits" from Béchard, one of the most famous bakeries in Aix, and explore the tiny shops hidden between the winding streets.
In the afternoon, drive to Esplanade de Malmousque and take an open-air vinyasa yoga class overlooking the Côte d’Azur. Then, don’t miss touring the lavender fields, which only bloom from June to August.
Finish your day of exploring at Côté Cour, a Michelin Guide-listed classic French restaurant on Cours Mirabeau. This beautiful restaurant looks like a garden inside and promises a romantic and delicious dining experience. Make sure to consider all the fresh seasonal dishes written on the specials board and order the cheese platter for dessert. End the night taking the long walk back to your hotel and enjoying the tranquility of the old, quiet streets.