I am always on the lookout for up-and-coming Provence artisans, talented designers and the authentic luxuries of the region. Therefore, I thought I’d share some of my treasures found during my research, curating and scouting missions in the Luxe Provence Guide to 36-Hours in Aix-en-Provence. Discover my favorite addresses, activities, where to shop and where to stay in this romantic city of fountains. I am proud to have met so many talented designers, collaborators, artisans and business owners in this beautiful city through my work. And to make this even sweeter, several of the boutique owners just returned from Maison&Objet in Paris (where I also enjoyed some design and product trend researching..), so expect fresh new arrivals in-store now! So, voila..off we go.
Where to Shop – The Best Addresses in Aix
Ethereal, boheme, romantic and lovely. The Paris-based brand Mes Demoiselles opened up in Aix two years ago and has quickly become a hot spot for flowy French embellished dresses, effortless chic combinations and romantic statement pieces. It’s impossible to not find something you will love and they have a variety of cuts that suit many body types. I am particularly loving their new Fall and Winter collection in-stores now.
12 Rue Marius Reynaud
04 42 29 67 46
This quirky, sophisticated boutique run by local, Magali Ortolani, offers a unique range of women’s prêt–à-porter brands, stylish accessories and bijoux from both local and international designers. I just scored the most beautiful 100% silk dress shown in this Aix street style series by talented Scandinavian designer, along with the handcrafted necklace (above right) by Nahau.
Magali’s curation criteria is 100% “coup de couer” and I love escaping into her whimsical treasure trove. Her boutique collection incorporates fantasy, luxury and found antique pieces, presented alongside her cool, mannequin animal mascots which bring freshness and originality to the experience. Inside scoop: look for more interior and home décor from Magali to come following the success of her stand at this year’s Côté Sud show this past summer in Aix. Her ultra soft leather handbags in-store now are simply divine and come in a variety of pastel shades. If you are looking for something beautiful and original, from statement outfit to accessories, you won’t be disappointed.
Started by local designer Emma François in Marseille, this boutique is a must-visit. “There are many things, some of them insignificant and some essential, which dictate Emma François’ inspiration – it could be a range of colours, a story, a film or a record sleeve. This is how a Sessùn collection comes together, out of almost nothing.” I love Sessun’s range of modern, romantic and more edgy pieces. Also find, a beautiful range of locally produced leather accessories each season. This local Provence brand has now expanded to more than 800 stores worldwide. Not bad for a passionate girl from the South.
10 Rue Courteissade
Phone: 09 61 25 24 17
Des Petits Hauts
Started by two French sisters, Des Petits Hauts started with a mission to incorporate luxurious fabrics “les jolie matieres” into comfortable, chic fashion. Their Aix boutique is filled with touchable, wearable cashmere, silks and high quality cotton pieces, along with beautiful deco-inspired jewelry. This boutique is a favorite of one of my best French girlfriends. The haute de gamme fabrics are sourced in Greece and clothing is designed in France. Find soft knit cashmere knit sweaters, lovely silk blouses and beautifully tailored trousers. They have just launched their own romantic fine paper line of products as well.
8 Rue Marius Reynaud
01 75 44 05 99
Pour La Maison – My Favorite Boutiques
Rue Paul Bert has become the “it” destination in my opinion in Aix-en-Provence to shop for beautiful French interior pieces, ethnic décor, vintage finds and the latest from talented local artisans. Here’s a few of our top home boutique selections on where to shop, whether for your Provencal bastide, or to simply inject a little French chic into your interior.
IV Home is my personal favorite home décor and interiors boutique in Aix-en-Provence. Created in 2010 by interior architect, Céline Mansencal, the shop opened at the end of April 2016 on rue Paul Bert, of course.
Discover two floors of over 200 square meters of beautifully curated home accessories, quality linens, ethnic rugs and modern lighting. They carry the gorgeous textile brand, Caravane, in Aix exclusively. Plus, find French brands such as Astier de Villatte, Genevieve Levy and local budding artisans such as Atelier Simone, by Laetitia Costechareyre.
Laetitia’s natural line of 100% plant hand-dyed indigo fabrics include gorgeous upcycled creations of: napkins, pillows and throws. We are very excited to be working on a special exclusive design collaboration with Atelier Simone for our Luxe Provence Box that we will be delivering to clients in a few short weeks within our Escape to the Calanques curation. More about this fabulous project and story behind the collaboration coming to the blog later this week! So stay tuned…in the meantime, head over to IV Home and be delighted.
Just across the street you have another wonderful home interiors boutique with a more ethnic chic flair. After 15 years in the world of fashion as a stylist, owner Karine Vaudaux channeled her eye for design into the world of interiors with Cink. Karine’s inspiration comes from a mix of Moroccan patterns and materials sourced from Marakkech to Essaouira, mixed together with French patterns and colorful pieces from local designers. Karine exclusively represents one of my favorite local ceramicists, Emmanuelle Wiramus and her brand ENW Céramique, working in her Aix-en-Provence atelier since 2009. I love Emmanuelle’s delicate pastel pieces (featured above) and found at Cink.
2 rue Paul Bert
Tél : 04.42.23.24.77
This concept store and vintage boutique opened spring in 2014 by owners Aurelie and Christine. Discover sweet home deco objects, vintage pieces, prints and furniture, along with adorable items for children’s rooms. I am smitten with these carreaux de ciment patterned pots that are sure to add some Provencal chic to your home or garden (shown above).
20 rue Paul Bert
13100 Aix en Provence
09 81 35 98 48
What To Do – La Vie Aixoise
After a day of shopping, the Hôtel de Gallifet, is the perfect place to unwind and experience the real Aixoise lifestyle like a local. Hotel de Gallifet is actually not a hotel at all. This stunning 18th century manor house also ideally situated in the Mazarin district, opened to the public in 2010. Run and curated by Nicolas Mazet the hotel serves as a cultural, emerging art, design and events venue. This cultural center infuses its historic space with modern art exhibitions, creative ateliers for children, design events and their popular Arty Jazz evenings, twice per month during May through September. The stunning lovely outdoor garden makes the perfect, relaxed Aixoise setting for an evening out with friends or family during the warmer months. The exquisite tree-lined garden is just off the Cours Mirabeau. As an added bonus, you can also dine sur place as of this summer with the addition of their own private chef for special evenings. Or pop over to Monsieur Chou next door and sample his changing menu of delicious delicacies. Loïc Derbay, a.k.a. Monsieur Chou, creates puff pastries both sweet and savory in his sweet little boutique on the hotel property. And be sure not to miss the Gallifet’s last Arty Jazz event of the season! It is this Thursday, September 15th so be sure to check their website to book ahead.
Caumont Centre d’Art
Experience the newest and most relevant Aixoise cultural institution, tea room, café and art museum, all in one. This 18th century mansoir built just off of the Cours Mirabeau, houses the newly redesigned Hôtel de Caumont, the work of Parisian architect Robert de Cotte, built under the supervision of Georges Vallon. The mansion and stunning gardens have been lovingly restored to house a museum and precious interior courtyard café. Pair a trip to the museum with an afternoon tea, evening cocktail or gorgeous lunch in the stunning French garden courtyard restaurant which serves fresh, plates, salads and desserts. They also host jazz evenings and evening museum visits, so be sure to check their calendar of events.
The Caumont Centre d’Art museum hosts changing exhibits and permanent features on Cezanne, including a great 20-minute film within it’s cinema room, also available for rent for private events. A new exhibit opens up in a few short weeks, featuring a photo exposé of the American Icon, Marilyn Monroe.
The exhibit features sixty photographs, mostly on loan from private collectors, as well as numerous multimedia materials. “Marilyn: I Want to Be Loved By You” tells the story of the unique relationship that she had with photographers that would play a vital role in the construction of her legendary image. Learn more about the Art Center and Culturespace, the foundation behind this project from an earlier blog post.
Where to Stay: 36-Hours in Aix-en-Provence
And finally, where to rest your weary stilettos after pounding the cobblestone windy streets of Aix all day? The choice is clear for us. In the seventeenth century, the city of Aix-en-Provence experienced a large increase in its population. Archbishop Michel Mazarin, brother of the famous cardinal, oversaw the expansion of the city with the creation of the Mazarin quarter, laid out in a chequerboard pattern with the Place des Quatre-Dauphins at its heart. A veritable ‘luxury district’ boasting some magnificent architecture, and home to members of parliament and the wealthy upper classes, the district would become the stage of various ambitions—religious, political and private. (Source Caumont Centre d’Art).
Maison d’Aix: Hotel Particulier et Spa – 1765
We featured this boutique jewel box hotel and spa in the center of Aix last year. This award-winning luxury boutique hotel is located in this historically rich Mazarin Quarter. Architects Laura Juhen and Louis Mariott have lovingly renovated this discrete, boutique hôtel and spa conveniently located in the very heart of Aix-en-Provence. We love its quaintness and understated luxury, along with its combination of classic architecture paired with modern convenience, tied together with a fabulous story.
The design story and direction incorporates its previous owner, Mademoiselle Henriette Reboul, renowned as an antique collector and a love “priestess”, who lived lavishly in this private mansion dating from 1789 in 1903. She reputedly had numerous celebrity friends, lovers and mistresses, who all took abode in this magnificent residence.
Following three years of careful renovations, the elusive Henriette Reboul’s spirit and sensual touch has been perfectly memorialized offering a playful dance between escapism and upscale sophistication. Laura infuses her own whimsical nature and attention to detail into each luxuriously executed vignette. This escape of calm and discretion harbors just four delightful rooms and jewel of a spa. Be sure to tell her we sent you…
Written by Tarik Koivisto, Founder and Chief Creative Director of Luxe Provence. Street photography of Aix-en-Provence and boutiques by Tarik Koivisto and Melanie Jacquier. Images of Hotel Caumont courtesy of the Caumont Centre d’Art. Celebrating the Good Life image with Luxe Provence partners by Denis Dalmasso at the Caumont Centre. Sessun collection images courtesy of the Sessun.