Aix-en-Provence is often called a mini-Paris, as it’s very walkable with excellent shopping and an abundance of restaurants. Known for the fountains throughout the city and the Plane trees that line the every popular Cours Mirabeau, Aix is an easy city to negotiate on foot, but a map certainly doesn’t hurt. There are markets from Monday through Saturday, the biggest on Saturday.
If you’re looking for a little change of scene food-wise, Aix has plenty of options and far more variety than in the smaller villages of Provence. Being close in proximity to the port of Marseille, you’ll find lots of seafood and several menus with North African and Spanish influences. There is no doubt in working up an appetite strolling though Old Town and browsing the eclectic shops along Rue Paul-Bert.
Here’s a bit about two very lovely restaurants in Old Town:
22 Rue Lieutaud, 13100 Aix-en-Provence
Le Zinc d’Hugo is a wonderful, unfussy and delicious bistro. The decor is open and simple in the best way, with a large fireplace, zinc counter and wood fire grill. There’s a prix fixe menu (set menu) as well an à la carte and an excellent wine list curated by the restaurant’s owner, a former sommelier. Le Zinc d’Hugo prides itself on sourcing fresh, local ingredient by developing relationships with small farmers, herders and fromagers, thereby presenting the best of Provencal products.
The wait staff is friendly, knowledgable, accommodating and fluent in English. When ordering wine, I was very specific. My request was repeated back to me, yet far more articulately. He asked if I’d prefer something local and I was thrilled to have the option and emphatically agreed. He then brought me a wonderful wine that went perfectly with my scrumptious grilled steak.
Open Tuesday – Saturday, for lunch and dinner
48 Rue du Puits Neuf 13100 Aix-en-Provence
Vintrépide is a small restaurant on the north-east edge of Old Town with less than 40 seats – get one if you can! Though run by just two people, the chef and the host, this extraordinary dining experience goes forth without a hitch.
The food is extremely well executed, utilizing locally sourced ingredients. The menu of four starters, four mains and four desserts is written out daily on a blackboard and changes regularly, depending on what’s in season and available at the market. The menu is in French, but the host is fluent in English and very willing to translate, with detailed description.
Dining at Vintrépide is true pleasure. An amuse bouche arrives shortly after the cocktails – delicious. The starter and entree are spectacular, with wonderful wine pairings arranged by the host. The meal concludes with a dessert treat from the chef. Perfection.
Reservations strongly recommended.
Open for Lunch Tuesday – Saturday
Open for Dinner Monday and Tuesday, (closed Weds) and Thursday – Saturday
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