Aix-en-Provence market tour: Aix and surrounds
If you visit Provence, you must spend a day or two at the market. I live here, and I’m quite spoiled. Aix-en-Provence, in my opinion, is one of the most excellent markets in the region and you’ll find everything from antiques, clothes, artisanal products and of course, food!
Here, in Aix-en-Provence, the fruit and vegetable markets are every day in Place Richelme but the best days to come are on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday where you’ll find everything that you could possibly imagine. The markets close at 1:00, so be sure to get there in time to enjoy the whole morning.
This is how I do it. Come with me on my Aix-en-Provence market tour.
Get your bearings: Le Cours Mirabeau
Start at La Rotonde which is at the bottom of Le Cours Mirabeau. If you’ve just arrived and you feel like a quick coffee before you start, head to La Rotonde. It is just to the left of the big fountain and just before the main street. It’s out of the way, has a lovely terrace, and you can plan your attack from there.
Next, I would walk in the direction of Le Cours Mirabeau. This is the main street of Aix, and here you will start with vinyls, books, and antiques. I love passing the guy selling the vinyls as he’s always got some good music playing. Once past him, you will enter the street and here is where you’ll find the clothes! There are stalls and stalls of dresses, hats, shoes, bags, baskets, lavender, and jewelry.
If you’re looking for clothes, I would be sure to get up to the upper middle of the street. I find that the quality of the clothes gets better further along. In other words, do not buy the first thing that you see and be sure to get into the center of the market.
There is a lot of choice, and the vendors are very good at convincing you that you need one of everything on offer. It’s difficult to negotiate with them, but I think you could try if you were willing to buy a few items at a time. It’s only worked for me once, and I am the Queen of negotiating.
If you are looking for lavender gifts, the best one is at the top (on the right). He has a better selection, and the prices are better than the guy at the bottom of the street. So make your way up to the top but not before stopping at a terrace and soaking up the atmosphere of Aix-en-Provence.
Important things first: Coffee & people watching
Now it’s time for some serious people-watching.
This is France’s national sport, and it is here that you will truly get an eyeful of who’s who in Aix-en-Provence. People young and old are walking along, looking for a friend or a place to sit. It is a fashion parade like no other.
In my opinion, the best place to do this is either Cafe de Paris or Bar Le Grillon. There are many along the way, but I feel like both of these have great terraces. They’re at the top of the street so you will have done most of your shopping by then and you’ll have a chance to do what the locals do. They’re all here.
Walk straight to the top of Le Cours Mirabeau, past the Fontaine du Roi Rene, and over to the lavender guy. He’s at the very end on the right. Then, turn left, and you will now be on Rue Saint-Jean. This is a charming little street where you’ll find many artisanal jewelers. If this is your thing, you will love the original designs, and the creators are all there manning their stalls. Enjoy a quiet stroll and before you know it, you’ll be walking onto Place des Precheurs.
Place des Prechuers: market tour tips
Place des Prêcheurs is the biggest food market in Aix.
There are also people selling art, hand-crafted goods, and antiques. I personally go here for the food. You will be amazed at what you’ll find at this market. I always head right to the guy who sells the saucisson. He’s usually set up to the right as you walk in, just beyond the honey stand. His tables are covered in red and white check, and if you like saucisson, you will love his!
There is saucisson herbed with many different flavors, and the choice is endless. He also sells little paper cones filled with bite-sized bits that you can hold and pop into your mouth while you’re walking along.
I have never been able to save mine until I get home.
You will see the many fruit and vegetable stands in the middle of the market. You will not be able to resist buying something to nibble on. The smell of the fresh fruit draws you in as you walk past and inhale big wafts of strawberries, melon, and whatever else is in season.
Get a peach if you’re lucky enough to be in Aix in the summer! They are the best peaches I have ever had in my life. I always like to ask for a taste, and I usually trust the vendor to choose a few for me. (Je peut gouter, svp?)
The best chicken guy is here, too. If you’re only passing through, this might be difficult, but I would at least walk over and have a look at how it’s done. Buying chicken on market day is a French pastime. Everyone does it, and you’ll see by the long line as proof.
Rotisserie chickens are spinning round and round, and people are lining up to buy one. I love the chickens here, and if you decide to buy one, don’t forget to ask for de la sauce and some potatoes. They will pack everything in the bag, and you will be so happy that you did because the extra sauce and potatoes add to the whole experience.
Place Richelme: the heart of Aix
Believe it or not, after Place des Prêcheurs, there’s more!
You now need to walk your way to Place Richelme where you will find another fruit and vegetable market. As you’re leaving Place des Precheurs, with the chicken guy on your left, walk straight, take your first right and follow the road around to the left. If you continue straight, you will walk right into Place Richelme. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see Le Petit Bistro on your left and Weibel (pastries!) on your right.
This market is smaller but just as good. It’s open every day, so it has a more local feel.
However, if you’ve had enough of fruit and vegetables, I’d take a seat at either Bar Unic or Le Petit Bistro.
This is another excellent opportunity to observe the market, and if you hit it right at 1:00 or so, you’ll see how they take the market down. I’m always amazed by this. Within 20 minutes, everything is packed up, and the guys are there hosing down the street. Once they’ve finished, you’d never know a market existed at all. In my opinion, this square is the heart of Aix. There are many terraces and big trees overhead to keep things cool in the summer. I love the feel of Place Richelme. Most of us who live here find ourselves sitting at Place Richelme on a daily basis. It’s a perfect spot to take a minute, have lunch or just enjoy a drink.
Aix-en-Provence market tour: the Flower market
You’re not done yet!
Just beyond Place Richelme, you will find the Place de l’Hotel de Ville. Where you will find the Flower Market. If you love flowers, you will enjoy this market. There is so much choice, and you will be blown away by the colors and seasonal blooms.
At this point, you will have finished the market tour, and while standing in Place de L’Hotel de Ville, you’ll be in between two main squares for lunch. Place Richelme on one side or Place Cardeurs on the other side, which can be accessed by walking through the big Arch and going left.
Place des Cardeurs
Place des Cardeurs does not have a market, but it is a great ending point if you’re hungry and ready to sit down for a while.
My favorite places to eat are:
– Le Petit Singe, is the first restaurant you’ll see when walking through the Arch.
– Next is Prima Pasta. No, it is not French, but the Italian food is excellent, and the people in this restaurant couldn’t be nicer.
– At the very bottom of Place Cardeurs is a very casual and cute restaurant called La Bidule. The fare is simple but very good, and they are so friendly there that I love to recommend them.
– Last but not least is my all-time favorite, De L’une a L’autre. This restaurant has a fancier feel. They have a fantastic French menu, and the bonus is that they have a garden in the back. It is very quiet and is such a nice break after battling the crowds at the market.
How to find De L’une a L’autre?
You won’t see it directly on the Place Cardeurs.
– To get there, walk down on the right side of the square.
– When you see the exit to the parking garage, take that right onto Rue du Cancel.
– You’ll see a big red door on the left, not too far up, that’s marked ‘Restaurant’.
That’s it! You will not be disappointed. After a day of shopping in the busy markets, this little spot is a little haven, and you won’t believe that you’re smack in the middle of Aix. You might want to reserve this one.
Take note of the Aix-en-Provence market schedules
Full market —Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday
Place Richelme — Fruit, and Vegetables every day.
Have you experienced the markets in Aix? Let us know after you follow this Aix-en-Provence market tour in the comments below
all images are copyright Suzanne Vidal
Aix and Surrounds
a mini-series of insider tips, tours, and magic.
1. A Walk near Puyricard
2. Aix-en-Provence market tour