I'm spending a week in July in Aix and then one night in Nimes. There seems to be a lot to do. Would love suggestions of must sees. I like medieval, Roman stuff. What cool towns are best? Markets to see, places to eat, etc.?
As someone who's also into medieval/Roman stuff, I'd add the Pont du Gard and Les Baux to Steve's suggestion of Avignon and Arles.
Orange has to be on the list.
We were in the region for 2 weeks in May/June. In addition to the ones already mentioned, we found the Roman Ruins (Glanum) near St. Remy to be really interesting. St. Remy is a great small town.
I loved the morning markets in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (Sundays); Maussane (Thursdays); Cassis (Wednesdays and Fridays); and Arles (Wednesdays and Saturdays). I regret that I didn't purchase a market basket (at the market) on the first day to carry my stuff for the rest of the trip. Hopefully, you'll have an apartment in Aix so you can have some of your meals with goodies from the market.
Cassis is a beautiful town--a boat trip or hike to see the Calanques (narrow inlets) is fun.
A highlight of the region for us was a daytrip to the Carmargue. We saw pink flamingos in the wild and enjoyed lunch in Stes-Maries-de-ls-Mer.
Rick's Provence and the French Riviera book is really helpful. Especially for recommendations for parking in the smaller cities.
There is so much to do! Have a a great time!
Aix is charming, but why spend the bulk of your time there? It's not a good base, logistically, for the cool medieval Roman stuff.
Can you shift some more time to Nimes?
Adam makes an excellent point!
If you like medieval and Roman, be sure to go to the museum in Aix. You'll see the medieval and Roman but you can also learn about the Ligure tribes which pre-dated the Greek and Roman colonies.
Definitely visit the Pont du Gard. We also loved Isle Sur la Sorgue for the market and my favorite place that I seldom see mentioned is Uzes. We took the TGV from Paris to Avignon and picked up a rental car. We knew we would spend 2 nights in Arles but decided to just drive until we saw a town that looked interesting enough to stay overnight...that's when we discovered Uzes and it ended up being my favorite!
Thanks all! I emailed my Nimes hotel to see if I can spend an extra night there. And I've made a list of all of the cool places you've suggested. If you think of anything else, let me know.
I second what others have said about Cassis, Uzes, Pont du Gard, Arles, St Remy, and Orange. I'd also add Lourmarin which is not far from Aix and is worth seeing, and has a wonderful market on Fridays. Uzes and Arles have good markets too. Rick's Provence book has info on market days for the towns that he covers. Also, since you're going in July, be sure to see the lavender fields.
Aix is a college town, and can be noisy at night. Just an FYI on that. The town is lovely with lots of streets to wander and great Saturday markets. But I agree with the other responses: if you want to see ROman stuff, you should stay further west in the Cotes du Rhone region.
It is much closer to all the sites mentioned in the posts, where Aix would add 2 hours to your drives, plus the cost of a lot of tolls. Rhone valley is also home to some fine wines and drives. It is close to Avignon, Roange, Nimes, etc.
I'm curious to know what cities you visited! Glad you had a great trip!
Just back from my Provence trip. Thanks for all the info. I had a FABULOUS time. Will have to go back to see even more.