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.

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Dating back over 150 years, Le Cintra is almost as venerable, in its own very different way, as Les Deux Garçons, just up the road. But whereas Les Deux Garçons was a favourite haunt of Aix's cultural élite, including Paul Cézanne, Le Cintra was a working, everyday bistro.

Shepherds driving their flocks to winter or summer pastures for the transhumance would stop by there for refreshment. Today Le Cintra retains that same no-nonsense simplicity.

In France it can be difficult, if not near impossible, to get a meal outside strictly designated hours and even more so to find somewhere reasonably priced to drink after midnight

So Le Cintra is a terrific find, whether you've been out late to a concert or a club, want an early breakfast or fancy lunch after 3pm.

You can choose from a wide range of beers and other drinks, a cheap plat du jour and a very wide choice of other starters, mains and desserts, or fresh pastries in the mornings.

House specials include steak tartare, mussels and chips and sauerkraut. If you really want to push the boat out, you could order sauerkraut and champagne for two. Early evening drinks come with free tapas: a selection of mussels, mini-pizzas and tapenade was served on our visit.

Le Cintra, Aix en ProvenceA more restricted "night menu" applies in the small hours (3am to 5am/ 3am to 7am Friday and Saturday), but still offers an extensive line-up of pastas, salads and grills.

The decor, like the cuisine, has a vague Alsace theme. There are large outdoor terraces. which were refurbished in early 2015.

Inside, thankfully, Le Cintra remains more or less the same: spacious, basic and very unpretentious with bright lighting, pine beams, red leatherette banquettes and rustic paintings on the wall of storks, forest landscapes and people in Alsace folk dress. The restaurant area manages to run to tablecloths.

Where: 14 place Jeanne d'Arc, 13100 Aix en Provence. Tel : (+33) 4 42 27 57 01.



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