I'm looking for traveler's thoughts about visiting Aix en Provence.
My wife and I visited the town 5 years ago and loved it. It was a Tuesday if I remember correctly, which was market day. Each piazza was a different market. Flowers in one, garden vegetables in another, handicrafts in another, baked goods in the next, etc. We wandered from one square to the next enjoying the interaction with the locals. We have fond memories of our half day there.
A lot of places in that area are worth seeing. Aix is known for its outdoor markets, at least on certain days.
But here are some questions, the answers will help us advise you:
1) What's your itinerary? What I'm getting at here is: Are you going to be going right by it, or do you have to go out of your way to get there?
2) And are you driving or on trains?
3) How much have you previously seen of Provence? Or is this a first trip to Provence?
4) And what are your other choices, if you don't go to Aix?
Rick's Provence & Riviera guidebook covers Aix for people focusing on that region, but he does not include it among his favorites in the wider France book (which also has no room for more pages or destinations).
I didn't care for Aix, and I also didn't agree with Rick's description of it, which made it sound like Beverly Hills on steroids (for instance, he says you may want to bring dark glasses to blend in with the other "beautiful people"; I didn't see these stuck up types at all).
But I agree with Kent, is it a big detour for you or not? If not, it's certainly worth seeing for a day or so to judge for yourself; many do like it more than I did.
I've been to Aix and agree with Harold's post [and Dave's].
Would be nice if we could hear answers, from you, to the questions that have been asked in an effort to give you the best advice.
vbout, I have not been to Aix, having been warned away from it by a nice guy from Pensacola. In his words or words to that effect: Aix is hell to get into and even harder to get out of! In other words, lots of traffic. It did force me take better a look at what we really wanted to see and we refined our list-Nimes, Arles, Pont du Gard, a couple of Luberon villages-and I saw that for our limited time in the south, there were better, more central locations to base. We chose Avignon, if I were to do it again would probably do Arles. There are still a lot of places I'd head to before Aix.
I had also heard of it as a well to do town with lots of college age folks, which was fine but we wanted something different. I'm sure it's a beautiful place to hang out for a bit, in a way I was bummed out at my realization since I had found a really nice B & B there. So many places.
I have also been to Aix, and my first trip I somehow found easy parking and enjoyed it... I also found my favorite fragrance there. However, on subsequent trips (of course to purchase my fragrance) I drove around forever and never found parking and left for the quieter villages. It is quite a big city. I would not go out of my way to go there... it had lots of shopping and restaurants, but little else to interest me.
Note: since my fragrance was discontinued I had to resort to ebay and over the last few years have accumulated enough to last a long, long time:)
Thank you to all who have commented about Aix. You've given me just the info I needed to make a decision about where to spend my time, which unfortunately has limits. (Maybe someday.....) Thanks so much.
Dave... what happened to our nice guy from Pensacola? I don't think he has resurfaced:(
I'd just like to add in defence of Aix and the question of getting in and out and parking... Yes, if you drive into the centre of Aix and try to park on the street, you will be doomed to fail - Aix is largely pedestrianised, only residents can access the central streets, that's one of the things that makes it such a joy to walk around. BUT... there are several large multi-storey carparks dotted right around the centre, there is always availability and it is in fact easy to get in and out of town, as long as you head for one of them. For Cours Mirabeau, the central street in Aix, go to either the Rotonde or Mignet parking, you will be within 2 minutes walk of Cours Mirabeau. The carparks are well signposted, along with the number of spaces available in each.