First full day in France! It’s starting to sink in that I do not have to go in to work today. Instead, I will be strolling around Aix-en-Provence looking for the best boulangerie to start off my day. My stress level has slowly melting away with each day of leisure I enjoy, recovering from the stress and hardship of our international trip (and daily grind).
First order of business – the hunt for breakfast! Based on the recommendation of the Pudlo guide, supposedly what “real” French people use, AK brought me to Philippe Segond’s Riederer patisserie near the town center. The store was chockfull of mouthwatering pastries, cakes and chocolates, and the variety was stunning. I also can’t believe it’s been open since 1780!
We ordered two pain au chocolats (chocolate croissants) with our morning coffee, and they were delicious – crispy exterior that almost “cracks” with each bite, which reveals the soft, layered buttery interior. Each bite was a slice of heaven!
I was intrigued by a particular pastry named “Castel” and bought one to go. It did not disappoint! Similar to a mille-feuille, the Castel has a thicker cream consistency intermingled with crunchy nougats, pralines and almonds. It probably would have tasted even better if we did not have to eat it on the run, haha.
AK and I also had the opportunity to wander around the small town and check out the specialty shops, such as ones devoted exclusively to olive oil, candies/pastries and, of course, macarons! Each store had its individual character and exuded oodles of charm. It is simply impossible to buy everything! (This is going to be a common lament on this trip.)
We also passed by such famous joints such as Les Deux Garcons (no relation to Les Deux Magots in Paris, I believe), a cafe that used to be frequented by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Edith Piaf, and Jean-Paul Sartre. Must have been nice to be part of the intelligentia back in the day! The gate below the beautiful clock tower included a plaque commemorating the liberation of the town by the 3rd Infantry Division of the U.S. army at the end of World War II. It nice to see that such things are remembered!
As pleasant and relaxing as Aix-en-Provence was, we had to say goodbye to it after too short a stay to embark on the 2 1/2 hour train ride over to Nice, our base for the next five days. We loved the laid-back ambiance of Aix and would definitely return next time we are in South of France!
Riederer (Philippe Segond)
67, cours Mirabeau
04 42 38 19 69