10 Places to Eat, Drink and Shop in Aix-en-Provence

Photo credit: Book in Bar Facebook page

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It’s one of the rare cities where the small business in the center still resist the devastating attacks of standardized mass distribution on the outskirts, like in Plan-de-Campagne, Vitrolles or Marseille in its major shopping mall, Grand Littoral. A city that is constantly renewing itself but at the same time defends its traditions, Aix-en-Provence is still a city of culture, thanks to the women and men fighting daily to keep it alive. Here are some of our favorite places in Aix-en-Provence.

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1. Caves Mazarin and Dammann Frères

The famous Hédiard épicerie fine knows how to reinvent itself. It added a cellar, called the Caves Mazarin, where you can buy wines and spirits from the region, but also Neuvic caviar, truffles and Bellota charcuterie. There is also an incredible selection of teas and aromatized teas by the Dammann brothers. — 18 rue d’Italie

2. Book in bar

Drinking tea or coffee and reading a book in English, Greek, Italian or Russian is possible at Book in bar, which provides a place for foreigners, polyglots, and foreign language students to come together. “For example, we bring censored books from China,” explains co-owner Anne-Philippe Besson. “We invite authors, we have reading clubs for almost every language.”  — 4 rue Joseph-Cabassol

3. Galerie Esdac

This unique gallery doesn’t just show the work of the Ecole supérieure de design, d’arts appliqués et de communication, “we are also open to artists from all over France,” explains the director of Galerie Esdac, Stéphane Salord. The gallery is also a sponsor of solidarity operations, such as Pink October, against breast cancer. Together with Véronique Lecoq, they also organize writing workshops, workshops to discover clay modeling, painting, and to provide springboards for young artists, and events. It’s a must-visit. — 2 A rue Irma-Moreau

4. L’Atelier du bilboquet

“The trend of typography, coming from the United States, gives a second life to our shop,” say Jean-Philippe Amaro and Laurence Puydauby, owners of L’Atelier du bilboquet. They print business cards, invitations, restaurant menus, posters, leaflets, flyers, etc. “With 1950’s machines, on quality papers purchased throughout Europe, we produce gaufrage (letters in relief), embossing (hollow letters), gilding or edge coloring,” explains Amaro. He is the only craftsman in the Bouches-du-Rhône and there are only about ten of them left in France. Probably more expensive, but oh so much more classy than a laser printer. — 4 rue Adanson

5. La Tomate verte

After eleven years in New Zealand, Maryline and Sébastien Jacquet wanted to create a “a sweet and savory café-restaurant-tea salon” like there are in Auckland. “From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the menu offers a brunch, then we move on to the tea room atmosphere, with cakes but also salads, and from 6:30 p.m. we’re more in the restaurant spirit, serving things like an emincé of deer with beet mousseline or the chef’s vegan special,” explains Maryline of La Tomate Verte. Everything is homemade, with fresh ingredients arriving daily: “The kitchen is too small to store anything,” says Sébastien. — 15 rue des Tanneurs

6. RDBO

“We are the last booksellers in Aix.” Jean-Paul Marino and his son Antonin run RDBO, for Rue des bouquinistes obscurs. “Here, you are sure to find what you are looking for. There is something for everyone, books by La Fontaine bound in full leather to Harlequin novels,” smiles Jean-Paul. The store has a certain eclecticism, also offering vinyl records and rare CDs. — 16 rue Matheron

7. Santa Maria Novella

Are you looking for old perfumes, maybe unusual fragrances? Santa Maria Novella is for you. It’s the place to buy perfumes made in what was undoubtedly one of the first pharmacies in the world, created in 1612 in Florence, Italy. The recipes have remained unchanged since then, and you can even buy the “Queen’s Water,” made in 1533 for Catherine de Médicis. The French love the perfumed colognes, smelling salts, potpourri, liqueurs, facial and bath products. — 12 rue Matheron

8. Cave du cours Mirabeau

It’s located in the basement of the famous Aix street cours Mirabeau. Romain Champetier de Ribes offers wines from the region as well as from all over France at the Cave du cours Mirabeau. He hopes to provide contemporary spirits, by offering all kinds of whiskies, rums and gins, flavored with wasabi, lemon and vintage pastis. — 19 cours Mirabeau

9. La Licorne

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“Give advice to graphic novel amateurs” is Kevin’s credo, one of the salesmen at the bookstore La Licorne. In the shop and it’s basement, you’ll find thousands of graphic novels (BD), mangas and comics. Every day, between 50 and 150 people come to find out about the latest publications, buy, and discuss the comics. “We see more and more parents passing on their passion for graphic novels to their children. We really like this transmitted aspect,” adds Kevin. — 67 cours Mirabeau

10. Galerie 361°

“The gallery refuses to have its own personal approach. We place the artist on a pedestal.” Alexia describes the concept of Gallery 361° as “a revolution plus a few extra steps. The place exhibits paintings, sculptures, photos and videos. It also allows amateurs to gain artistic experience through workshops led by professionals in sculpture, drawing and painting. We also organize exhibitions for young people aged 15 to 30. We reject elitism.” — 2 rue de l’Annonciade

This article was written by  and published in Le Point.

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