Bars and Cafés: Aix en Provence

placedescardeursAs a university town, Aix en Provence unsurprisingly has a lively bar scene. One spot to head to for this is the place Richelme in the Old Town, which has a cluster of busy cafés, all with outdoor terraces, including the Bar de l'Horloge, L'Unic Bar and Happy Days.

Another is the Forum des Cardeurs, pictured, a large open square lined with bars and restaurants.

Les Deux Garçons (reviewed below) on the Cours Mirabeau is the classic place to linger, though you'll pay a fair bit more here for your wine or coffee. Many Aixois prefer Le Grillon a few doors away -and it offers free tapas with its drinks in the early evening.

News for bars in Aix en ProvenceBut it's also bad news for nighthawks in Aix en Provence. Until recently bars in the town were allowed to stay open until 2am, creating Aix’s reputation for buzzing nightlife.

But, following complaints from local residents, a decree has been passed requiring bars to close at 12.30am instead, as is the norm elsewhere in the region. Needless to say Aix's younger inhabitants – and its bar-owners - are furious.

This said, the restriction applies only to certain popular streets and squares, and is for the moment a temporary one, until mid-March 2017. Watch this space for further developments.

Here we survey some of the best bars, cafés and brasseries in Aix. The line in France between bistros and restaurants is a fluid one and many of these addresses also serve light food, sometimes very good food too, though they're famed for their atmosphere more for their cuisine.

It's also worth exploring places which aren't primarily bars. Book in Bar, at 4 rue Joseph Cabassol, is just that: a bookshop (with a very good English-language section) which has tables dotted around between the shelves where you can relax over a good read, tea and a light snack.

Just opposite it in the same street, the Caumont Centre d'Art has an elegant, 18th century style salon. By day it serves tea to museum visitors only. But, once the gallery has closed, it turns into a cocktail lounge which is open to all.

Stay tuned for new additions!

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Les Deux Garcons, Aix en ProvenceNo visit to Aix is complete without a trip to Les Deux Garçons, the city's legendary brasserie known informally as the 2Gs.

Le Cintra, Aix en ProvenceA long-established local institution, this simple brasserie just off La Rotonde is remarkably cheap by Aix standards, has a vast menu and serves hot food 24/7, 365 days a year.

Au Pet't Quart d'Heure logoIf you want to avoid the overpriced bars on the Cours Mirabeau: take a tour into the Old Town to this friendly little spot where a glass of wine costs just one €uro.

aix cave dyves exteriorIf you're going out for a drink, a super way to enjoy fine but affordable wine is to visit one of France's numerous wine shops (caves à vins) which also double as brasseries.

aix segond facadeYou'd expect a city like Aix to be jam-packed with tasty pâtisseries and salons de thé. Not so. You can buy cakes to take away easily enough. But somewhere to sit and chat over coffee and pastries: that's not so easy to find.

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