Aix En Provence becomes animated daily with the bustle of the markets which mainly set up in the squares of the city centre. You have to be up early to see the stall owners setting up but getting there before the crowds is particularly good at the food markets as you can get the pick of the best produce. The market by Place Richelme is where farmers and residents sell fresh, locally grown produce and the offerings are so good that it’s where the restaurateurs go to buy ingredients for the day. As well as the rows of fruits and vegetables the smells drifting through the air come from the cuttings of fresh basil, mint and rosemary combined with an assortment of spices.
During the times the ‘grandes marches’ are on it’s hard not to hear the commotion as the whole town is seemingly filled with the noise that emanates from locations such as Place de la Madeleine and Place des Precheurs. These larger markets are again dedicated to vegetables and fruits but the variety of produce is much greater as growers come from a wider catchment area to sell their goods.
Another ideal market for stimulating the senses is the flower market at Place de d’hôtel de Ville where it’s possible to inhale the sweet fragrance of a staggering number of blooms. This is a great place to take some memorable pictures as the marketplace is filled with vibrant colours that spread like a rainbow over the tops of the stalls. Sometimes the market is also held at Place des Precheurs as well but both locations have similar sellers and the selection is always good.
To pick up the latest designs in French styling and fashions by up and coming designers from the student population, the Thursday market along Cours Mirabeau displays an extensive collection of clothes. It’s also possible to pick up a bargain as the market also sells second-hand clothes while a similar affair runs by the Palais de Justice. In the same area but opposite the Palais de Justice at the Place de Verdun is another market where valuable finds can sometimes be made as the area specialises in antiques and all kinds of collectibles and vintage items. Handicrafts are also showcased and these come from around the region along with imported goods to extend the variety. In the evening, close to Aix En Provence hotels along the Cours Mirabeau is the Nuitées d’ Aix where the craft sellers come out at night time. Pottery, jewellery and other handmade crafts are all available for sale under the moonlight. Lastly second hand books and more antiques can be purchased on the very first Sunday every month at Place de d’hôtel de Ville.
Along with the markets one of the other attractions to Aix En Provence is the food and the region also has a selection of notable wine producers. The vineyards of the region produce excellent red wines and distinct rosés and a smaller selection of white wines. If visitors happen to be in the city in July then the last Sunday is home to a thriving wine fair with ample opportunities for wine tastings along the Cours Mirabeau. A delicacy that Aix is particularly famous for is the calisson, this is confectionary made from marzipan, preserved fruits and sweet almonds. When the sweets were first made is unclear as some say it was during the celebrations for the second marriage of King Rene in 1473 but more probable is when almonds were introduced to Provence by the 16th century. The area was once a leader in the production of almonds and today it’s a speciality and can be bought from boutique confectioners around the city.
Lek Boonlert is an editor and content reviewer at DirectRooms and is responsible for all Aix En Provence Hotels content.