Our last stop on this trip from Valencia to Cote D’Azure didn’t disappoint. We had pondered over Nice and actually booked an apartment in Nice for a week but then decided on a week in Antibes as it is a much smaller resort but still with good transport links to access other towns along the coast and inland. Just as we were re-thinking our plan, Siobhan, Richard and Richard’s (now) fiancee Laura decided to join us and so we had to up-size our accommodation. Luckily we found a lovely rental house in a private courtyard shared with 2 or 3 other homes in the the town centre, private and secluded and yet only steps away from the daily market and a few more steps from the beach. The house was a great find in a great location.
We had a super week with day trips along the coast to Nice and Monte Carlo/Monaco and for Richard and Laura a drive out to see the lavender fields in Provence. Here are the photos……
Aix-en-Provence, is another town steeped in history having been founded by the Romans in 122BC. There isn’t a huge amount of Roman remains to be seen in the town itself (at least not yet!) and in fact an amphitheatre discovered in 2004 and partially uncovered was reburied due to lack of funds and the fact that other archeological digs are ongoing around the town in advance of redevelopment and pedestrianisation works.
It was certainly interesting to see archeologists busy at work in the city but we were drawn there by the appeal of its picturesque old town famous for its markets, food and lifestyle. Not to mention its many fountains and water features found throughout.
A couple of days before we left Arles for Aix, we had a few anxious hours when we discovered that there was a problem with the fabulous flat in Aix that we had booked and paid for via holidaylettings.com. We realised that we hadn’t yet received details of how we would access the apartment and after several unanswered emails to the “owner” and phone calls to holiday lettings, we discovered that the apartment had been sold some time after we had made our booking. Our booking was supposed to have been honoured by the new owner – but it wasn’t!
When it became clear we would need to find alternative accommodation, we struggled to find anything of quality anywhere near our budget but after hours of searching we finally found an apartment with an owner prepared to accept 50% of his published rate for a last minute booking. We struck gold! The luxury apartment was on the first floor of a building in the historic centre and shopping area just around the corner from the daily market and the cathedral. With 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, a big well equipped kitchen and spacious lounge and dining room, the place was perfect.
So we finally arrived in Aix by bus (a shorter journey than by train) on Saturday 10th June 2017 for a five night stay. We arrived early afternoon just in time to see the fag end of the Saturday market and a 10 minute walk got us to the apartment to be met by the owner who spent a long time showing us around his pad and explaining the layout of the town. We were very pleased with what was a real stroke of luck finding such a rental in this location .
Aix is famous for its markets with a daily food market and a daily flower market. There are different markets for clothes, books and antiques on different days of the week (or month) not to mention fairs that take place periodically and, of course, Christmas markets. The food markets are fabulous with great local produce but they are all busy and colourful and nice to wander around whether you are actually buying or not. At the time of our visit and for some time to come, some of the markets in Aix have been/will be disrupted or re-located whilst various area of the city are being renovated/pedestrianised with works taking longer than might be normally expected with archeologists checking for buried Roman relics.
Aix is also famous for its water fountains which are found in many shapes and sizes all over the city. In fact this is known as the City of a Thousand Fountains many being the legacy of the days when this was a Roman Spa town. Here are just a few of the thousand…..
Aix-en-Provence Cathedral – Undergoing Renovations as cathedrals always seem to be !
A few other photos
We absolutely loved Aix and had a great week wandering the town enjoying the shops and the markets and the super pavement cafes and restaurants. As usual we enjoyed a few restaurant meals but mostly made the most of the local produce and fab kitchen in the apartment to cook for ourselves. A five night stay was not nearly enough -this was definitely one of our favourite stays!
This was a day trip by bus from Aix. We had never heard of Cassis before we arrived in Aix but we searched out places for a day trip and Cassis got the vote being oft described as the best kept secret of the South of France and a popular holiday destination. As usual we opted to visit on market day which was very pleasant although given this is a very small resort, the market itself wasn’t extensive. There’s a small beach here and we plumped to lunch with a bottle of wine, cheese, ham and bread purchased from the supermarket. All in all a very pleasant day although at one stage we thought it was all going a bit pear shaped when a thick fog suddenly engulfed the town – a very odd thing indeed but it cleared almost as suddenly as it arrived within half an hour. Here are some photos.
Following our stay in Avignon we moved on to Arles by bus on 7th June. There is a train service between Avignon and Arles but the only service we could find goes via Marseilles, a very long detour!
We stayed in Arles for 3 nights in a city centre rental apartment. The apartment was small and not one of the best we have used but it was fine for a short stay.
Arles is another city sitting on the River Rhone in the Provence Region. It’s adjacent to and includes a big part of the Carmargue Delta. The city has a lot of history (see wiki) as it was once a provincial capital of ancient Rome and so there are some Roman monuments including an arena and a theatre to be seen.
One of the city’s claims to fame, like other cities in the region, is that Vincent Van Gogh lived here for a year and unsurprisingly there is a museum here in his memory. During his time here he painted over 300 paintings and cut off his ear! After Arles, VG moved on to Saint-Remy-de-Provence.
This is a fairly quiet small town but very very nice. You can walk from one end to the other in 20 minutes or so and the few highlights can easily be seen in a day but there are plenty of lovely streets and squares to explore and lots of nice bars, restaurants and shops to make a stay of two or three nights or more worthwhile and especially so if you wanted to use this as a base to see other nearby towns such as St Remy and les Baux or Cassis or Marseille in the south.
Here are the photos starting with the main square Place de la Republic
This was an easy 25km day trip by bus from Avignon. L’isle sur le Sorgue is a really nice small town sitting on the river which is known as an antiques centre with a market regarded as one of the best in this part of France. We were lucky to have great weather and we visited on market day when it’s a very lively place to be.
This was a great day out. The market is really excellent with a wide range of foods available including one area that was set up as an Italian market selling exclusively Italian products – meats, pasta, olive oil etc. We spent a few hours wandering around the market which consumes the entire town and then bought food and a bottle of wine for a picnic on the river just a little way out of town. Highly recommended if you get chance to visit.Loads of photos !