Provence is known for herbs, wine, wonderful food and scenery and of course beautiful weather. A recent blissful stay at Pavilion de la Torse (the ultimate in Bed & Breakfast, picture above) in Aix-en-Provence has convinced me that there is also much there to delight the heart of the fashion fan. So here, over the course of two posts, is the fashion fan’s one day walking tour of Aix-en-Provence, tried and tested.
- Start with the famous market: market days are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 9am until lunchtime. I found Thursday to be the best day with a good selection of stalls but less crowded than on a Saturday. The fleamarket is in the Place de Verdun and includes stalls selling antique textiles, costume and ethnic jewellery, hats and local arts and crafts. My best bargains have been textiles – wonderful antique petticoats and blouses (just the thing for this autumn’s romantic look) made of high quality, soft cotton. Best of all, you can guarantee you won’t see anyone else wearing it.
- From Place de Verdun turn onto rue Matigny and stop at Les Macarons de Caroline for a sugar boost. The macarons are wonderful and there are some interesting flavours including herb mixtures and fresh fruit combinations – the melon flavour is gorgeously light and fresh.
- Powers boosted, continue on to Place des Trois Ormeaux to visit a serious depot-vente, Vint’age Boutique. The stock here is haute: beautiful Chanel jackets, Hermes scarves and bags, Dior jewellery. A beautiful gem of a shop with a tempting selection, carefully presented and also blessed with friendly and highly attentive service.
- From here, take rue Matheron and stop at Magasin General Plus to shop for gifts for friends and family and for beautifully designed homewares. There is everything the modern gent might desire, from a natty scarf to a cycling guide to Europe (and the bike to go with it), plus everything the well-equipped kitchen might need. Good inspiration for gift-giving.
- Next, we return to fashion and some pure vintage around the corner at Blow Up, 26 rue Boulegon. It is a tiny shop, stocking an interesting selection of mostly 70s and 80s clothes, though I did see some 60s Courreges when I was there. It also has a good selection of costume jewellery and racks of vinyl LPs for the total vintage vibe. I happened upon a red pleated skirt, highly reminiscent of Gucci’s AW collection and a great bargain at 20 Euro.
- From here, head back along the road towards the centre of town, picking up rue Paul Bert and then turning off into rue Griffon to visit C’T’Ici, another depot-vente. When I was there I noted a beautiful black leather Prada coat and some great leopard print shoes. In the next street, at 1 rue Gibelin, you’ll find Emmaus, an absolute treasure trove of vintage home furnishings and a very worthy charity. Emmaus is a French charity dedicated to helping the homeless. They run a network of shops and will also undertake house clearance. Their shop in Aix was full of early to mid-twentieth century designs including an amazing Soviet Russian wall clock, a Darth Vader doll still in its original packaging, and a beautiful set of cabbage leaves crockery – too many lovely things and too little room in my suitcase.
By this time, you will be ready for lunch and perfectly placed to stroll past the Place de l’Hotel de Ville into the Forum des Cardeurs for a delicious al-fresco lunch and some serious people-watching, at Bistrot des Philosophes. The perfect place to re-fuel before an afternoon’s serious boutique shopping, culture and cocktails. To be continued in Part 2.