Aix-en-Provence is a gorgeous town that I will forever associate with Candyland, because within five minutes of my arrival I happened upon the most wondrous food festival – in celebration of the local confection, the calisson – in the plaza a few steps from my AirBnB.
In addition to the star attraction in every color and flavor, there were wedges of nougat as big as wheels of cheese, macarons that looked like watercolors, marshmallows in soft pastels, every kind of jam and jelly, and a variety of cookies for good measure.
I would like to draw special attention to the nougat with calissons in the picture below: sugar on sugar in the most unabashed way.
Dentists have it good in Aix.
I bought a slice of pistachio nougat that should have lasted a week but that I ate in one sitting, and between that and the calisson samples that I helped myself to at each stall, I felt like a kid on French Halloween.
My kind of town.
High on sugar, I wandered around the historic city center and marveled at the picturesque stone buildings and cobbled squares.
I also marveled at the very high number of Instagram boyfriends and their seemingly unself-conscious modeling girlfriends. I walked by the fountain below several times, and there was always someone standing in front of it, looking seductively over her shoulder at the camera, oblivious to the fact that she was striking the same pose as countless women before her.
That’s sort of how I knew that Aix-en-Provence was not my soul mate Southern city. Montpellier was pleasant but too staid, Arles was adorable but too small, Marseille was interesting but too big, and Aix was sweet in all ways but just too textbook rich and pretty.
I don’t mean to imply that any of these places was not to my liking, because I liked every one. It’s more that I will not shed a tear if I never go back to any of them – they were great to visit, but once was enough.
That all changed, though, when I got to my last stop. Pictures of the love of my French life, Avignon, coming soon…