Le Jardin de Marie in Aix en ProvenceIf you fancy bed and breakfast in a 17th century hôtel particulier in the very heart of Aix's Mazarin Quarter, Le Jardin de Marie is an insider tip.

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It's right around the corner from the place de Quatre Dauphins and from the exclusive and elegant 28 à Aix hotel.

But, if Le 28 is a spectacular splurge destination, Le Jardin de Marie - which opened in 2009 - is warm, friendly and very much more accessibly priced.

The three simply but prettily furnished studios maximum use of space, with a ground-level sitting room (pictured top: the Acanthe studio) and a sleeping area perched on a mezzanine. The rooms have been recently equipped with air conditioning - a welcome addition since Aix can get extremely hot in summer.

Each one also has an en-suite bathroom and television and there is free wi-fi throughout. It must be said that the rooms are quite small. But guests also have the use of the beautiful facilities in the rest of the house.

Le Jardin de Marie in Aix en ProvenceThe star attraction, of course, is the tranquil, leafy garden with deckchairs and a hammock to linger in over breakfast or simply to chill out in on a hot afternoon.

For cooler nights, there's a reading room and salon, which you can share with Marie and her family until 9pm.

A super added bonus: Marie Pontus and her husband, Thibault, work as guides and interpreters at the tourist office and speak - between them - English, German and Spanish.

They would be delighted to advise you on how best to spend your stay and even organise trips for you.

Visited December 2010

Where: 47 rue Roux Alpheran, 13100 Aix en Provence. Tel: (+33) 6 15 93 65 39. Book a room at Le Jardin de Marie

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