Aix en Provence Restaurants and Dining
(Aix en Provence, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, France)
Visitors looking for a dining venue in Aix en Provence certainly have plenty of choice, ranging from restaurants, bistros, cafes and other eateries tucked away down the narrow streets and alleys of the Old Town, to those overlooking Aix's many charming squares and boulevards.
A variety of cuisine is on offer, including traditional Provençal dishes, and ethnic and contemporary international menus. It's also worth venturing out into the outskirts of Aix en Provence, particularly the surrounding villages, to sample more of the delights of this region's native restaurants and classic cuisine.
When to Eat / Opening Hours
Cafes in Aix en Provence are open from early in the morning and serve coffee, pastries and light snacks throughout the day. There are plenty of bakeries open during the day for those wishing to buy ingredients for a picnic.
Restaurants in Aix en Provence generally serve lunch from midday until 14:00. However, most restaurants are at their busiest during the evening, with the majority of diners arriving after 19:30. With evening dining finishing around 21:00, it's best not to arrive too late. It's also advisable to check in advance whether the restaurant will be open that day, as most choose to close for one day a week. In addition, if you're visiting during the busy holiday period, then it's wise to book in advance.
What to Eat
With over 300,000 olive trees in Aix en Provence today, it's little wonder that the olive plays an important role in local cuisine and dining experiences. Olives appear on the table as a pre-dinner snack, in oil on salads, and in such dishes as 'tapenade' (olive purée) and 'la pompe a l'huile' (a cake made using oil and yeast). Provençal meals generally also include plenty of fresh herbs, such as oregano, thyme and basil, as well as fresh Mediterranean vegetables, including aubergines, courgettes and sweet peppers.
Perhaps the most famous sweet delicacy served at restaurants in Aix en Provence is 'calisson', made from sweet almonds and preserved fruits. This confectionary has been in existence for hundreds of years and today, some 20 manufacturers still continue the tradition in Aix.
Where to Eat
Head to the Old Town, around the Cours Mirabeau and the Rue de la Couronne, and you can't fail to find a menu that whets your appetite. There are dozens of restaurants which offer gastronomic menus and a great dining experience. Whilst some are not particularly cheap, they're worth a visit if you're keen to sample traditional regional cuisine or discover some creative twists on the theme.
If you're planning a very special meal, then there are a few exclusive dining establishments which offer gourmet cuisine in grand surroundings. The acknowledged master of these is the Michelin-starred Le Clos de la Violette, located just outside the centre of Aix en Provence.
For those who are dining out on a tight budget, Aix en Provence also has many bistros, eateries, cafes and cheap restaurants which offer good value for money. From a cup of coffee and a pastry to simple, bistro-style food, they are the ideal place to savour the local atmosphere or simply watch the world go by. Café Deux Garçons, on the Cours Mirabeau, is perhaps the best known of Aix's cafes. It was once the haunt of the artist, Cézanne.