Sunday, June 3, 2012

Shopping in Aix-en-Provence and Lunch at Le MilleFeuille Restaurant

We go to Aix-en-Provence to shop and meet up with cousin Annick who lives close by. There are no ancient historical sites or museums you have to visit but it is a popular destination because of its outdoor markets, its pretty squares, wide avenues, and beautiful fountains.

Aix is home to some art schools and several universities, including some American, attracting a youthful population that gives the town a lively energy. It is said that of the 142,000 people who reside in Aix, some 40,000 are students, most of whom it seems to me dress only in shades of black or gray.

Aix-en-Provence is sometimes referred to as the city of a thousand fountains. The most famous and most photographed fountain is La Rontonde which is at the bottom of Cours Mirabeau. La Rontonde is a huge round-about and the hub of modern Aix. Dating from 1860, the fountain is topped by three statues representing art (facing Avignon), justice (facing Aix) and agriculture (facing Marseille).

Cours Mirabeau is a wide avenue with two rows of plane-trees which provides shade from the hot Provençal sun, bordered by big old houses and decorated by a procession of four fountains. It was built on the site of the town's medieval ramparts and divides the town into two sections; The new town, Mazarin Quarters, extends to the south and west; the old town, with its wide but irregular streets and its old mansions dating from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, lies to the north.

The avenue is lined on one side with banks and on the other with bookstores and cafés with tables that spill out onto the sidewalk, one of which is Les Deux Garçons, the most famous brasserie in Aix. Built in 1792, it has been frequented by the likes of Paul Cézanne, Émile Zola and Ernest Hemingway.

At the top of Cours Mirabeau is a a 19th century fountain which depicts the "good king" René holding the Muscat grapes that he introduced to Provence in the 15th century.

Aix-en-Provence hosts open-air markets several mornings a week: there is a produce market daily at Place de Richelme, flea markets Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at the Palace of Justice, flower markets on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at Place de l'Hotel de Ville as well as a book market on the first Sunday of each month.

One of the many fountains found throughout Aix-en-Provence.

Sundial on side of a Aix-en-Provence building in the historic old town.

The 16th century clock tower at Place de l'Hôtel de Ville. The tower has two clock faces: a typical one and an astronomical clock from 1661.

Aix has an abundance of shopping options, enough to keep Shirley occupied for hours.

We always pay a visit to Marie-Hélène who owns La Victoire with her husband Philippe, the store where we have purchased all our fabric for the table cloths, curtains and place mats we use at our Bistro Des Copains. The store has been in business since 1918.

As you probably know, we have four wonderful grand kids; Avery age 5, Dylan age 4, Caedon age 3 and Madison age 18 months. Shirley is known to the grand kids as GG (Greatest Grandma), and in order to live up to her reputation, a visit to the kids stores in Aix-en-Provence including our favorite, Petit Bateau is mandatory.

Another one of our stops is at Chocalatier Puyricard on rue Rifle Rafle to pick up an assortment of their handcrafted chocolates to take with us.

As it is just before Easter, the shop has a beautiful assortment of chocolates for Easter on display.

Just a few steps from Chocalatier Puyricard is Le Millefeuille Restaurant where we were headed for lunch. The restaurant is run by two veterans of l'Oustau de Baumanière, the well regarded restaurant with two Michelin stars in Les Baux de Provence.

We were immediately seated a simply set table and brought a plate with black olive tapenade and toasted bread to nibble while we figured out what we wanted to eat.

Shirley is happy after a morning of shopping and looking forward to what we hoped would be a great lunch. After considering the menu options, we both chose the "Menu" which included a starter, main course and dessert for 27 Euros.

We chose as our starters, a Tarte tiède aux jeunes épinards, fromage de chèvre et amandes servie sur lit de salade - a warm spinach and goat cheese tart with almonds served on a bed of greens and

a Salade de fumeton de l'Ubaye, asperges vertes brousse de pays, crème de vieux Parmesan - salad of smoked leg of lamb from the Ubaye Valley and wild green asparagus with an aged Parmesan cream sauce.

For main courses, we chose a Filet de daurade poêlé à l'huile d'olive, risotto carnaroli crémeux aux poireaux, crème de panais - filet of sea bream pan-roasted in olive oil served over creamy leek risotto with a cream of parsnip sauce and a

Sauté d'agneau de Sisteron confit façon aillade, polenta moelleuse et poêlée de légumes de moment - sautéed Sisteron lamb in a garlicky sauce served over creamy polenta with vegetables.

For desserts we chose a Moelleux au chocolat chaud "Antao" 70% et glace chocolat fève de tonka - warm chocolate cake served with chocolate ice cream infused with tonka bean. Tonka beans are used as a vanilla substitute in French desserts and stews but interestingly at least to me, it is banned for use in food by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Our second dessert was Pommes chanteclerc caramélisées, amandes et sa glace caramel beurre salé - carmelized chantecler apples served with almonds and salted butter caramel ice cream.

We have not had great meals in Aix-en-Provence or at least nothing to write about until now. The cooking and plating of the food at Le Millefeuille was excellent and we will definitely return when we are back in Aix-en-Provence. I recommend this restaurant to you without hesitation. Make sure you save room for dessert because these are really outstanding.

Le MilleFeuille Restaurant
8 rue rifle-rafle
13100 Aix-en-Provence
Tel: 04 42 96 55 17

Bonne journée mes amis et à bientôt. Have a great day, chat soon!


  1. Aix-en-Provence is much larger than I realised and you have a Chocalatier there - yum yum. It looks a lovely place to go shopping. If you recommend Le MilleFeuille Restaurant it must be good, I will remember if ever we are in that direction.
    You have many more types of market than we do here. Diane

  2. What a fun day in Aix! Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos and your favorite addresses. I can't think of a better name for a restaurant than "Millefeuille," my favorite French pastry, can you? :-) Bonne semaine from a French expat who traveled home for a few minutes thanks to you. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  3. Diane - Aix is a wonderful town. I love the fact they have different markets on multiple days of the week; great for someone who loves to wander through markets.

    Veronique - You are cute! Thanks for your sweet comments! Have a good week yourself.

  4. I'm headed to Aix tonight for dinner, I'm going to try and go to Le Millefeuille now :)

  5. I love Aix! It has been in my heart ever since I lived there for two years. I have only been back 2 times since moving here, though. It has changed so much since I walked those streets every day. All the pictures you took bring back such great memories as I consider it the two best years of my life! I was thrilled to see Puyricard in your post. It's the best chocolate in the world and I bought so much goodies there that I should own stock by now!

  6. Sara - If you go, I hope you like Le Millefeuille as much we did.

    Ashley - I missed that you spent two years of your life in Aix; how fun was that. I wish I could have done that at a young age. We love the town and spirit of Aix so much. You are right, Puyricard chocolates are delicious.