Aix-en-Provence: Highlights, hotspots & more about Aix in the South of France!

Aix-en-Provence, a delightful city in Provence, in the south of France. In this blog we tell you everything about the highlights in and around Aix-en-Provence. You can read about the center of Aix, the beautiful vineyards and of course the nature in the area!Wine tasting in the Provence region France

Highlights & hotspots in Aix-en-Provence!

Aix-en-Provence, or Aix for the in crowd, is one of my favorite cities of France. All the good that Provence has to offer in one place; great food, good wine, French boutiques, near the mountains, sea and within driving distance of the beautiful lavender fields. The city itself is somewhat like Paris, but warmer, smaller and with slightly more pleasant people (everyone is happier with that warm weather).

So: do you have little time but do you want to experience everything that Provence has to offer? Then stay a few days in (the vicinity of) Aix! Wondering how many days you need for Aix-en-Provence? I recommend a minimum of two to three days to properly experience both the city and the surrounding area.

1. Visit the center of Aix-en-Provence and go shopping

Aix really reminds me of Paris. But then with sunnier colors (think palm trees, flowers and the pastel shades of the houses). You will find many nice shops, beautiful architecture and more than enough terraces to recover from all that shopping.

Stroll along the Cours Mirabeau (the Champs-Élysées of Aix-en-Provence), go shopping in the old town and marvel at chic buildings and expensive shops in the Mazarin district. The markets in Aix are also fun! A typical French market takes place every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning. Think of brocante, local products, fruit and flowers.Visit Aix en Provence Visit France 1Aix en France city centre France

2. Drink rosé in one of the many wineries in the Aix-en-Provence area

The ultimate summer feeling for me is a glass of ice-cold rosé from the Provence on a warm, sunny day. Aix-en-Provence is, as the name suggests, located in the middle of Provence! This area is known for its delicious rosé, so light in color that it almost appears white. Due to the warm climate and the soil consisting of sand and rocks with a lot of clay and lime, the wine is often fresh and light, but not too sweet. 80% of all wine produced in Provence is rosé.

The Provence is divided into nine quality wine regions. Aix-en-Provence is located in the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, the second largest area and close to the Côtes de Provence, the largest wine region. Below you will find four nice wineries that you can visit from Aix-en-Provence. They are all located in either the Côtes de Provence or the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence.lavendel

Chateau la Coste: art, wine and restaurants

This winery, just north of Aix-en-Provence, is very special and popular with locals and tourists. You come here not only for the wine, but also for the architecture and gardens, art or for one of the restaurants. Between the vineyards you will find a modern domaine with art exhibitions and of course wine. You can do a wine tour or taste wines in the boutique.

There are four restaurants ranging from very chic to accessible. You pay an entrance fee of 12 euros for the gardens and exhibitions. You can also do a 2-hour guided architecture tour. We drank the Chateau Rosé from 2020, a wonderfully fresh rosé that is easy to drink. Click here for more information. Travel time from Aix-en-Provence to winery: 25 minutes drive.

Would you rather not go out on your own, but visit different wineries? Then consider doing a half-day or full-day wine tour. Departing from Aix-en-Provence and you will visit several wineries in Provence with a guide. Click here for more information.Vinyards among the Mont Ventoux France

Chateau Vignelaure: the pink castle

This beautiful wine estate, housed in a pink castle, is really worth a visit. Located in the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, it makes several varieties of red, white and rosé wine. The red wine is full and heavy, almost Bordeaux like, really unique for this region. Their white wine resembles Chardonnay from Burgundy, although the house also has some lighter wines.

The rosé is also delicious, although unfortunately we just bought a box where we found out when we got home that it had cork in it. Unfortunately, bad luck can happen. Luckily the other wines were of good quality!

You can just walk in here for a tour and tasting (free), which also immediately shows you the wine cellars full of art. Very special! And despite the cork bad luck we had, definitely recommended! Click here for more information. Travel time from Aix-en-Provence to this winery: 40 minutes drive.

Domaine des Diables: Made in Provence

Ries’s favorite rosé is from the well-known brand “Made in Provence”, or MIP. You may know the bottles, they have sleek shapes with a white-red label and only those three letters on it. So this winery was a must for us to visit. The MIP winery turns out to be really called Domaine des Diables, where MIP is purely the brand name. It is located at the foot of the Saint-Victoire mountain range, a perfect location as the sun’s rays reflect on the white limestone, giving the grapes more sun.

Domaine des Diables also has white and red wine, but specializes in different rosé wines, of which we liked the MIP-classic rosé the best. Unfortunately you can’t do a tour here, only a (free) tasting. Click here for more information. Travel time from Aix-en-Provence to winery: 30 minutes drive.

The Vinyards of MIP Provence Mountains Wine France

Domaine de la Grande Seouve: the popular AIX brand!

Probably the most famous rosé in the world: AIX. These bottles are impossible to get hold of in the summer, AIX has become a hype in itself. This wine is quite pricey, good but not very special. A bit of the Moët et Chandon among the rosé wines.

Are you a big fan of AIX? Then stop by the winery that produces AIX: Domaine de la Grande Seouve. Even though there is no information on the website about a visit to the vineyard, it is possible. You do have to call in advance. Tours are Monday through Friday at 10am and 2pm. Click here for the exact location. Travel time from Aix-en-Provence to winery: 40 minutes drive.Vinyards in the Cote dAzure France

We also visited Grimaud, a beautiful authentic village near Saint-Tropez. Read more about it in our travel guide!

3. Hike to the top of the Sainte-Victoire mountain and admire the Bimont dam

Would you like to discover the nature around Aix? Then the nature reserve where the Sainte-Victoire mountain lays, east of Aix-en-Provence, is a must. You will find several beautiful hikes here, where you have a view of forests, mountains and hills, vineyards and several lakes.

Does this mountain and its surroundings look familiar to you? Then it may well be that you have already seen it in one of the paintings by the French painter Cézanne. Montagne Sainte-Victoire was of great inspiration to Cézanne, he immortalized the mountains more than 85 times in paintings and watercolors.Hiking around Barrage de Bimont Provence France

Climb the montagne de Sainte-Victoire

The Sainte-Victoire mountain, is a mountain range that is over 18 km long. With its highest point is at 1011 meters, a true mountain. The most popular route to climb the Sainte-Victoire is to walk to the Croix de Provence. This large cross is located at 946 meters and is easily visible from the starting point in the parking lot of Barrage de Bimont. The total route takes about four hours (two hours one way) and you follow the blue path (see the blue signs and blue arrows).Hiking Sainte Victoire Provence FranceHiking around the Bimont dam the Provence region France

Other walks from the Bimont Dam

We decided not to walk to the top of Sainte-Victoire, but to walk a shorter route. At the tourism office we asked for a nice hike of about two hours. The recommendation was to follow the red path towards Lake Zola and then walk back to Bimont via the Bibemus Plateau. We can certainly recommend this route! It is not a difficult hike and you admire lakes, various dams and you walk through a beautiful forest.

The Bibemus Plateau is a nice addition and a lot rockier than the rest of the route. We were happy to have obtained some information in advance. The route is well marked with arrows, but a really clear overview of the different hiking routes at Sainte-Victoire can only be found at the tourism office at the entrance of the Bimont dam.

Tip: You can also do cool mountain bike tours in this nature reserve. Click here for more information!Hiking around hte Bimont dam the Provence region France

How do you reach the Sainte-Victoire nature reserve?

There are several parking places from where you can take a nice walk in this area. We didn’t find the information on Google Maps that useful (it seems on the map the location of Sainte-Victoire is much further to the east), so that’s why we give information about access to the Sainte-Victoire area.

Our preference goes to the parking lot of Barrage de Bimont, the Bimont dam. Most walking tours depart from here and there is plenty of parking space (in the shade). Click here for the location. Another parking space is Bibemus (see the location here). You will not find a tourist information point here. To the south of Sainte-Victoire there are also several parking lots, but these are often not very large and fill up quickly in summer.

For more information about the Sainte-Victoire nature reserve, look here.

Not so far from Aix-en-Provence: Mont Ventoux. Read in this blog all you need to know for a visit to this famous mountain in France!Barrage de Bimont Provence France

A little further north than the Provence, you will find the beautiful Drôme. A department with gorgeous cities, lovely villages, and peaceful nature! In the Drôme, we visited towns like Montelimar and Valence and beautiful villages such as Crest, Mirmande and Saoû. Read all about these places in our blog!

4. Go out for dinner at one of these hotspots in Aix-en-Provence!

Aix-en-Provence has more than enough great places to enjoy French cuisine! Below is a selection of our favorite hotspots and restaurants in and just outside the city.

Le Petit Baron – lunch in Aix-en-Provence

Le Petit Baron is located on Place des Cardeurs, the most popular square full of terraces and restaurants. With its shady terrace, reasonably priced menu and huge wine glasses full of ice-cold rose, this spot certainly stands out! A nice restaurant for lunch, I recommend the burata! Click here for the location of Le Petit Baron.

Maison Cangina – lemon meringue cake

I love French pastries and in particular lemon meringue pie. Several times we had to take a short detour so that I could quickly buy two tarte citroen merengues for on our way at the Maison Cangina patisserie! Click here for the location of Maison Cangina.Boulangerie Aix en Provence Visit France

La Boétie – French-Italian tapas

You can find tasty French-Italian tapas and good cheeses at La Boétie (which, strangely enough, has the name Le coin des Pates on the facade from outside). This tiny restaurant on a square is really worth a visit. Preferably you eat at one of the three tables outside so that you can watch people undisturbed. Click here for the location of La Boétie.Visit Aix en provence France where to eat

Gallifet Art Center – Art and Dining in Aix-en-Provence

The courtyard garden of the Gallifet Art Center is a real hot spot in Aix-en-Provence. You are surrounded by works of art eating here, because this restaurant belongs to an art gallery. In this romantic setting, typical French dishes are served, prepared with vegetables from their own vegetable garden. The prices are a bit higher. Click here for the location.Musea en Aix en Provence Visit France

Gaodina – food hotspot just outside Aix-en-Provence

It’s a bit of a drive, but well worth it: the restaurant Gaodine is located in the countryside just outside Aix-en-Provence. The restaurant belongs to the also recommended hotel Domaine Gaodaia. There is a lovely garden around the stately French mansion in which the hotel is located. Including cozy corners with seats, lights, old olive trees and a large swimming pool.

This hotspot is the place to be according to locals. They throw their parties and host weddings here, but also come for the good food to the restaurant. Take a seat under the chestnut tree, order a glass of champagne and enjoy dishes such as tuna tartare, poached eggs and truffle risotto! Click here for the location.Where to eat in the Provence region Visit the Provence Visit Aix

The perfect stopover on the way to the South of France: Stay overnight in the Mâconnais, the southern Burgundy region! Want to see more of Burgundy? Visit Chablis or Noyers-sur-Serein.

5. Take a trip to the lavender fields

A typical French image: purple fields of lavender as far as the eye can see! Yes, Provence is known for its beautiful lavender fields. There are roughly three main areas where lavender grows in Provence; the Valensole plateau, the Sault plateau and the Luberon valley. Here you will find the largest concentration of lavender fields. All these places are not around the corner from Aix-en-Provence, but the lavender fields of Valensole are the quickest to reach (about 1 hour’s drive). Here you will find a handy overview of the most beautiful lavender fields per region.

Would you rather not go to the lavender fields with your own transport? Then consider doing a day tour with a guide. Click here for more information on lavender tours departing from Aix-en-Provence.Lavender fields Provence France

When does lavender bloom in France?

Lavender in southern France begins to bloom from June. July is the best month to see the lavender, but in early August you still have purple fields in many places. The lavender has finished flowering in most places from mid-August.

Road tripping through France? Then also add the Champagne region to your itinerary and visit these champagne houses in Épernay!

The best hotels in the Aix-en-Provence area

Below is a selection of three hotels in Aix-en-Provence. Including a budget option, a hotel outside Aix with a swimming pool and a luxury apartment right in the center of the city.

Le Boudoir du Centre historique €

La boudoir du centre historique

This tiny apartment is located in the middle of the historic center of Aix. With a small kitchenette, double bed on the loft and bathroom, it has everything you need. From €80 per night.

Click here

Hotel Domaine Gaodaia €€

Best hotel of the Provence Region Visit France

This delightful hotel is located just outside Aix, a 10-minute drive away. It has a fairytale garden with swimming pool and good restaurant. Rooms are nice but not big. From €100 per night.

Click here

Suite la Cezanne €€

Suite Le Cezanne

This luxury apartment in the heart of Aix-en-Provence is a nice retreat if the busy city becomes too much for you. Beautifully furnished with air conditioning, indispensable in hot summers! From €150 per night.

Click here


Here are more hotels in Aix-en-Provence!

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1 Comment

  1. by Leyla on 26 May 2022  08:42 Reply

    Thanks for this peek at Aix! For some reason I drive by but never stop... silly, since my mother's family originated here, but it's also because I usually drive by in summer and it's so hot, all I want to do is get where I'm going. But I SHOULD stop and explore - it's a lovely town and I should get to know it better...

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