Reflecting on Twenty Years Living in Aix-en-Provence
This article “Twenty Years Living in Aix-en-Provence” was originally published on author M. L. Longworth’s website. The post is her reflective view of how the city of Aix-en-Provence has changed in the last two decades, and of those staples that make the city unique.
Our decision to move to France was fueled by wanting our then three-year-old daughter to grow up bilingual, as my husband had, and partly by some words left in the guestbook at the Hotel Cardinal in downtown Aix-en-Provence, “Une nuit, une femme, chambre 11, le bonheur…” I knew enough French to get the romance in that elegant script, and shoved the page into my husband’s face. “We have to move here,” he said in agreement. We were in Aix, on holiday, for a week, and my husband managed to get an interview with a local French company that needed a bilingual Web engineer with Silicon Valley experience. Two days later he was offered the position, and in the rest of our photographs from that trip we look dazed and confused, or at worst moments, as if we had been punched in the gut. “Be careful what you dream for,” my mother said, laughing. That was late November, and by mid-February, two weeks after our daughter’s fourth birthday, we were living in Aix.
Aix in 1997 was a sleepy provincial town. You could park your car on the Cours Mirabeau, which at that time still had some mom-and-pop shops. Nowadays, only international chain stores can afford the rent of one of France’s most beloved main streets, and the obligatory underground parking garages can be full by noon. Peter Mayle’s “A Year in Provence” was only eight years old (I devoured it on the plane moving here), and Occitane didn’t yet have a shop on the rue Espariat, nor in airports around the world and in downtown Dubai and Tokyo and Helsinki.
Discover Classic Aix-en-Provence
Twenty years later, here’s a nod to nine Aix classics that are still going strong:
1) Two Cafés: Le Grillon and Les Deux Garçons
2) Two Shops: Patisserie Béchard and the Fromagerie Savelli
3) The Fountains
4) Cathedral Saint-Sauveur
5) The Markets
6) Atelier Cézanne
8) Montagne Sainte-Victoire
9) The Cours Mirabeau
Relocating to Provence:
Author M.L. Longworth, her husband and their young daughter relocated to Provence from California in 1997. Although, there were some initial challenges and unexpected surprises the family stayed and made the South of France their home. Expat living in a foreign language is not for the faint of heart. Longworth struggled for several years with learning to speak French, until she met her neighbour and now best friend. Read about this expat story and her books here.