France Day 1 – Travel to South of France (September 10-11, 2011)

San Francisco –> Paris –> Marseilles –> Aix-en-Provence

After months of planning the logistics, the day has finally come for us to travel to France! We started our journey at the crack of dawn to catch our 6 a.m. flight to Miami, from which we fly to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. The excitement started as soon as we landed in Paris – so many of the fabulous food stores have outposts at the airport! First up was Laduree, which had a full-sized storefront near our terminal, F30. When I tried to take a photo, the sales lady aggressively yelled “NO PHOTOS!” Is that any way to treat a future customer? Luckily, I was able get one in before she shooed me away…phew.


We also visited La Maison du Chocolat and purchased a small box of six bonbons for enjoyment later. One of my fondest memories from my first trip to Paris was randomly stumbling upon La Maison du Chocolat on a rainy day. I was alone, and the store looked inviting, emanating a soft, yellow warmth in the gray. After an initial gasp at prices that appeared astronomical to a student, I overcame my disbelief and bought a small bag of chocolate-covered almonds dusted with cocoa powder. My first bite was unbelievable – the crunch of the shell, the purity of the chocolate, the depth of the flavor combination. At that moment I finally understood the allure of an unadulterated piece of refinement. And with that, my first real taste of French epicurean culture.


Lunch consisted of two small slices of quiche and two bottles of water – a whopping 20.40 euros (or about US $30). At least it ended on a sweet note – our loot plus a strong cup of illy espresso.


After a 5-hour layover, we get on our flight to Marseilles, then onto a bus to Aix-en-Provence, a charming university town in the heart of the Provence region. By the time we checked into the Hotel du Globe, a basic but centrally located hotel, it was late afternoon and time to hunt for dinner!

Unfortunately, because it was Sunday, many of the restaurants AK had researched were closed. After wandering around the main square (off Cours Mirabeau), we settled upon Le Bistrot des Philosophes (very a propos since AK used to be philosophy major).


I ordered the risotto with fish, which was creamy and delicious, though a bit heavy on the sauce. The fish was flaky and cooked to perfection, however.


AK ordered the braised duck, which was yummy as well.


Although the house wine was just average, we thoroughly enjoyed our first dinner in France and looked forward to more!

Hotel du Globe
74, cours Sextius
13100 Aix-en-Provence
04 42 26 03 58

Le Bistrot des Philosophes
20 Place Forum des Cardeurs
13100 Aix-En-Provence
04 42 21 64 35