Carolyne Kauser-AbbottExpat Living and Real EstateLiving in Provence

Living in Aix-en-Provence and Loving it

Americans Susan and Sam Gish moved to Aix-en-Provence two years ago. It’s unlikely that this Francophile couple’s relocation to France, from Philadelphia, was a surprise to any of their food industry friends. During previous travels to France, Susan and Sam discovered the influence of terroir in the different French wine regions. They even honeymooned in Épernay (Champagne).

Living in Aix en Provence

Susan translated her degree, a Bachelor of Fine Arts and minor in Journalism, into a career in acting, and as a casting director before launching – The Philadelphia Casting Company Inc. Sam Gish (a.k.a Chef Sam) spent a long career in the restaurant industry as a Maître d’ in some of Philadelphia’s top restaurants. A wine and food lover at his core, Sam is a fabulous cook and has studied wine almost enough to be a sommelier.

Recently, they have been contributing to Lynne’s Aixcentric blog with restaurant reviews, market tips and recipes. Susan agreed to answer some questions about their new home in France.


Where I Live, Aix-en-Provence

Why is Aix a great place to visit or live?

After spending vacations in Cassis, Susan and Sam decided to sell everything they owned in Philadelphia and move to France. As much as they love Cassis, the town felt too small, and Marseille seemed too large. They settled on Aix-en-Provence as the city’s compact geography has much to offer.

In Susan’s words, “Aix is great! It has culture, music, museums, theatre, art. There are great markets and cafés. And, it’s the city of fountains and the city of music, how great is that? Cezanne, such history! We can look at St. Victoire or go to the sea for peace.”

Places Discover Aix-en-Provence Favourite Cities Provence Place des Cardeurs

Back in the States, Susan filled her weekends as a farmer’s market manager. This hobby fueled her passion for local, seasonal food and helping farmers. Now, she can visit the daily markets in Aix-en-Provence, chat with vendors and purchase directly from regional producers. We asked if she had any favourite vendors? Yes. At the Place Richeleme marché, the produce vendor from Cucuron and L’Oceane for fish are her top picks. For a sweet fix, she likes the jam from Christophe of Nos Saveurs Provencales and the olives from Loren at the market in Place des Prêcheurs.

Aix-en-Provence Market

Is there a must-see attraction in Aix-en-Provence?

Susan is fascinated by the fountains of Aix. Known as the City of Water, Aix-en-Provence was settled in 122 BC by the Romans who found natural springs, and they called the city Aquae Sextiae after one of their key consuls Sextius Calvinus. The “Waters of Sextius” provided the population with water (both hot and cold) for daily life, animal husbandry and thermal baths. To understand more about the history of this ancient city, follow this self-guided walking tour of the fountains of Aix-en-Provence.

Aix-en-Provence La Rotonde

Eating and Drinking in Town

Where do you go for coffee?

Street scene Aix-en-Provence

Local and no-frills: Uniq café on Place Richelme for coffee and an excellent location to watch the comings and goings of daily life in the city.

Drinking in the sun: The tabac next to the Cathedral on Rue Saporta, choose a table and soak up the late morning sun.

Quiet time: The Italian place on the corner of Rue d’Italie and the start of Rue Gambetta has sunny tables, and it is a comfortable place to drink coffee by yourself.

Feel like home fix: Susan suggests Mana espresso for a hipster Brooklyn experience and suggests that you try their brownie with sea salt.

Do you have a favourite bakery?

Saint Quentin la Poterie market @perfprovence

When it comes to “daily” bread, Susan’s top pick (also mine) is Farinoman Fou, located at 5 rue Mignet, just off Place des Prêcheurs. Tuesday through Saturday head to this boulangerie for their top-quality artisanal loaves. The cartes des pain indicates which days each of the specialty types of bread. However, it’s best to go early before they run out of some of the favourites like Choco-Sourire (chocolate smile).

Another one of Susan’s favourite bread stops is La Fabrique à Pain at 4 rue Pierre de Coubertin. Open daily; this bakery works with a shortlist of suppliers to create organic, naturally leavened bread.

For the love of bread, discover the various types of loaves you might find in a typical bakery.

Living Aix-en-Provence Patisserie Bechard

We didn’t specifically ask Susan about patisseries, but it is France after all, and who can resist the sweet temptation at Segond, Riederer, Bechard and Wiebel? Although she did admit that her preference for cakes is Segond.

Calisson d'Aix Almond Candy

Don’t leave Aix-en-Provence before you try the Calisson d’Aix and, if time permits, visit the Roi René factory.

Where do you recommend for a casual lunch with friends?

There are a few restaurants that we like for leisurely mid-day meals, including Entre Midi et Deux and Tita for falafel. Read Susan’s review of Entre de et Midi here.

Where is your go-to spot for an apéro?

Head to one of the touristy places on the Cours Mirabeau for great people watching.

Cours Mirabeau Aix-en-Provence

What is your top pick for a romantic dinner?

At home, chez Chef Sam.

Where do you like to go for dinner with friends?

With friends in the restaurant industry, this couple likes to entertain in style. Although, their approach has changed a bit since moving to Provence.

“We were known for our extravagant dinner parties among friends, especially our yearly cassoulet party. We would seat 25+ people in our not very large living room, and there was an actual waiting list each year of friends that wanted to be invited. Since duck confit was almost impossible to get a quantity of, Sam would make the duck confit for the cassoulet. Now that we are in a small apartment in Aix, our dinner parties and yearly cassoulet party is limited to 7 people, and we can buy duck confit!”

Here is Sam and Susan’s recipe for tarte aux citron.

Tarte aux Citron Lemon Tart

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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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