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Aix-En-Provence - Lavender smells to lavender treats

I can see how this traveling lifestyle becomes addictive! Constant stimulation, connecting with people on a deeper level by spending so much time together and of course experiencing the world.

Heading Northwest from Nice just an hour by car {Rail Europe strike changed our plans a bit}, you begin to enter Provence. The more traditional area of France where lavender is grown, 18th century fountains and squares, old mansions and of course home of the famous painter Cézanne.Aix-En-Provence Southen France Things to DoYou know my first concern was determining if a run would be possible and to my great fortune the hotel was located just a 1/2 mile from a favorite trail of the locals called Promenade de la Torse! Promenade de la torse Marseille     Running in Marseille France
Each morning after the run, I excitedly returned to the comfort of the Grand Hotel Roi Rene and more importantly breakfast waiting in the room!! I loved that room service breakfast was included in the stay, it just made my morning so much more relaxed as I got to explore the city.
IMG_6689Enjoying hot tea at the hotelSHOPPING, MANSIONS, AND MARKETS
Exploring the old mansion district provides the feeling of a long ago era, but it’s quickly apparent that the city is bursting at the seems with high end shopping and local artisans. The mixture of old and new permeates much of the South of France making it an interesting study in opposites.
Aix-En-Provence Old MansionsBeautiful Square Once again we were happy to explore the 4 local markets which are all hosted in large squares within just a mile of each other: clothing, flower, hand made and produceAix-En-Provence Market Aix-En-Provence Farmer's Market Admittedly the 3 hour lunch and dinner process was starting to weigh us all down by this point, so we began requesting salads and may have missed out on some really exquisite things, but the food was so fresh thanks to the local markets that I can’t imagine we could have dined any better.

Plus we got to dine in some amazing places like Chez Thome, about 3 miles from downtown, with a menu that changes daily based on local ingredients and looks like a scene from Alice in Wonderland.Chez Thome FranceChez Thome AIXVINEYARDS
While there are vineyards to be visited all over France, Château La Coste is unique because it also contains an outdoor modern art museum. Of course there was also plenty of wine tasting for those who enjoy a little adult beverage after exploring.
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CALISSON
Have you ever heard of a Calisson?? If you’re more refined than I then answer is probably yes, but alas this was a brand new treat to me! After tasting one so kindly left in our hotel I was excited to head to Roy Rene Calissons {opened in 1920} and learn all about the creation and history of this local sweet which is made from almonds, crystalized fruit and a little sugar.

They are a very specific shape and size, in fact their standards are so high they still make many by hand to ensure they get it right! Anyone can visit the factory for a tour and it’s really interesting, so I say check it out…plus umm sugar.DSC04306My personal favorite was the one infused with lavender…wow what a flavor!! Knowing that all of their ingredients are sourced locally I’m sure we were enjoying some of the freshest candy I’ll ever have.CalisoneFinally it was time for a train ride to Marseille!!! Yes, I love riding the train. I know some were a little frustrated by the time, but I think it's magical to watch the countryside fly by...one moment there was a single white work horse alone in a field with not a single building or person to be seen and the next massive old mansions.

I don't know why, but just gives me a sense of peace.

Read more about the 5 essential experiences in the South of France and what to do in Nice as an active traveler.

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