Books on ProvenceCarolyne Kauser-AbbottInspire

Book Review: Aix-en-Provence The Inside Story

First published in 2013, Aix-en-Provence The Inside Story was updated and reprinted in colour in 2021. In this book, author Lynne Alderson shares the history of this attractive city and its colourful inhabitants.

The Author

Lynne Alderson studied English Language and Literature at Edinburgh University. Her career encompassed journalism and marketing communications. Lynne and her husband split their time between a house in England and a flat in Aix-en-Provence with family in two countries. As an editor for the Anglo-American Group of Provence (AAGP) newsletter, Lynne was frustrated that information on current happenings often arrived too late for the distribution timeline. Taking matters into her hands, and launched her blog Aixcentric. The website is a go-to source for what is happening in and around Aix en Provence. From bus strikes to gallery openings, from Marseille’s shopping to the best ice cream – Lynne makes it easy to be “in the know.”

Researching for the book, Lynne read extensively many of the titles are listed in the Further Reading section at the end of the book. In addition, her background in journalism and her son’s proficiency with InDesign created an excellent supplementary guide for this city.

The Book

Aix-en-Provence The Inside Story includes 16 chapters about the long and fascinating history of this city. Lynne’s goal is not to replace travel guidebooks but rather to provide deeper insight into the history of this city. “There was nothing in English that told the story of the town. Guides seem hooked on architectural features.” Her interest was also in discovering more about the city’s inhabitants and, in particular, the women and working classes. The book is in chronological order from ancient populations to modern-day Aix-en-Provence.

Aix-en-Provence The Inside Story Cover

Chapter 1 starts in 180-124BC with details about Entremont, an ancient Celto-Ligurian settlement of the Salyens. Located on a hill above present-day Aix, Entremont is an archaeological site with only an estimated 15% of the excavation work completed.

Walking Tour Fountains Aix Place d'Albertas

The Romans deserve the credit for laying the first stones for Aix-en-Provence, a settlement called Aquae Sextiae. And, it is possible to discover visible traces of the Roman era in the old town centre. In the following chapters, understand how the Plague impacted the region and the population of Aix. Then, learn about Roi René, the much-loved King who reigned from 1434 – 1480. After that, the city continued its evolution through a “Golden Age of Elegance,” the French Revolution, and World Wars.

Fontaine des Augustins Aix-en-Provence

Today, the City of Water and Art attracts visitors and new residents looking for Aix’s rich tapestry of culture, history, food and shopping. We asked Lynne whether she has a preference for a particular period in Aix’s history. “I do find the current changes to modern problems very interesting. There is much investment in transport infrastructure, pedestrianisation, parking. Investment in fast removal of tags, investment in cultural venues, investment in French Tech industries, free concerts, and films. It seems very dynamic and proactive to me.”

Walking Tour Fountains Aix Jean Malte

Who should read it?

Anyone who is planning to visit Aix-en-Provence or move to this beautiful city should buy a copy. This book appeals to history buffs and those interested in architecture. Factual and well researched, Aix-en-Provence The Inside Story is not a dry read. Lynne includes plenty of human stories and information on the public figures who impacted the city that exists today. The layout is attractive, with plenty of photos and historical images. Included throughout the pages are “Inside Info” tips and information for visiting a location.

Where to buy it

Aix-en-Provence The Inside Story is available online at Lulu or at Book In Bar, the International bookstore in Aix.

Book in Bar
4 rue Joseph Cabassol
13100 Aix-en-Provence
Open Monday – Saturday
Telephone: +33 04 42 26 60 07

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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

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