From Moustiers we drove to the famous city of Aix, and stayed at a 3 star hotel, Le Manoir, a long-established place, now closed, in the old city.
We parked in the courtyard and moved in.
Our room was well furnished in an old-fashioned style.
We walked along the famous Cours Mirabeau, full of shops, boutiques, bars and restaurants. At the far end is La Rotonde, the main rond-point of the centre-ville.
We ate at a nice but randomly chosen and now forgotten restaurant in the Cours Mirabeau area. In those pre-GPS days we had some difficulty finding our way back to the hotel. The next day we went exploring.
Built on the foundations of Roman buildings, constructed and modified since the 12th century, the Cathedral in Aix is now a National Monument of France.
Near the cathedral we stopped at a bookstore with an interesting name, “Rue des Bouquinistes Obscurs,” 16 Rue Mathuron. They are in the resale business. Most times when I visit a bookstore, I am strictly browsing. This time, though, I was looking for something in particular. I had become concerned at not really knowing the meaning of all roadside signs and street markings. I asked a clerk for something on the rules of the road. She looked through several different books and after a few minutes she came up with a short illustrated book that teenagers use to study for their license. This was just what I needed.
We dined at Les 2 Freres. From the street this restaurant is hardly noticeable, but the interior is chic and modern, and the food and service are excellent. Located a little outside the centre-ville, this was one of our best experiences in Aix.
A word on the closure of the Hotel Manoir: The valediction of the management, which is still online, was an indictment of the competition from soul-less suburban hotels focussed on wifi access, and the failure of the public to continue to appreciate the charm of a traditional hotel. The owners were losing money each year. “It would have been necessary to reinvest, but the world has changed! The clientele that we knew during the good years faded away. They were replaced by people who did not appreciate our place.” So they went out of business in 2014.
Although we certainly did not see all there was to see in Aix, we were eager to get on to the next phase of our adventure, a week in a country house or gite in the village of Sablet…