In and around Aix-en-Provence

It's been good to be back in one place for a few days. It's still warm, but a lot cooler than where we have been in Italy - which makes getting out during the day a lot more manageable - especially for Archie our 18-month-old.

Aix-en-Provence is a beautiful old city - two main grand carriage ways (streets) with many, many cobble stone lined streets leading off them in all directions. It’s very easy to get tangled - but also easy to get your way back to the main streets if you need to.

Yesterday started with Mum and I heading out to a local patisserie to by breakfast for everyone - fresh croissants (literally straight out of the oven), and a mixed assortment of other nice French pastries. Unfortunately the coffee we bought from the same place wasn't exactly the great coffee experience we were looking for. Appears they may be either great at making pastries or great at making coffee - and few are great at both. We survived and the freshly made pastries were absolutely delicious.

The remainder of the day was spent basically exploring the city. We just wondered through the streets seeing what we could see. We hopped on the local street explorer shuttle and took the 45 min audio tour of the city, which helped to give us some of the history of the city as well as some general reference points for us to head back to.

In the late afternoon our wanderings lead us back to the Cours Mirabeau - where the markets were just being set up. Walking through the markets I couldn't resist trying some of the freshly baked artisanal madeleines, and ended up buying one of each flavour (almond, citrus, orange, chocolate, and plain) us for afternoon tea - they were delicious, and possibly repeatable tomorrow afternoon.

In the late evening the temperature had cooled even further which made it very pleasant for an evening walk before dinner. We settled on what looked to be a nice little place in a side street a few streets back from the main streets. It was quieter and fortunately less smokers were here (actually none which is very rare in France).

Something about the French - they love smoking, and they love dogs. Dogs in restaurants. Dog in department stores. Dogs in the streets. Dogs at the airport. Dogs on the trains. Dogs everywhere. It seems that your dog literally has the same access privileges you do - so if you can go, so can the dog. Just makes me wonder how a department store like H&M deal with a dog incident in women’s wear?

The restaurant we had selected for dinner was a good mix of traditional French food (which I was after), as well as more ‘recognisable’ foods - which fit the balance of our group well.

Our small group ordered a wide variety of dishes - Foie gras, roasted Camembert with Jamon and salad, chicken milanese and lasagne. I had the escargot and magret de canard (duck) done medium rare - so it was still a very blushing pink. It was all very delicious.

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For desert I had a shot of black coffee and the 3 desert tasting plate which consisted of a small slice of lemon meringue tart, a small panacotta with red berry coulis and a small creme brulee - absolutely delicious.

Unfortunately we timed dinner a little late tonight. After a big day walking Archie didn't last the distance - so Laura took him back to our apartment to put him to bed while we finished up. Dinner might need to be a little earlier tomorrow night.