Aix-en-Provence: the city of l’eau et l’art (water and art). Built around hot springs and fountains, Aix is and alway has been, a center for artists (like Cézanne). The country side radiates with the scent of lavender and flourishes with 300 days of sunshine. Three hours south of Paris (by train) and 30 km from Marseille, Aix is the perfect paradise; a modern city with a historic flair.

Photo credit: ironypoisoning

Culture and Immersion

A city rich in its historical heritage has much to enjoy. Let your feet take you around the city to feel at one with the Provençal traditions.

The site of Thermes Sextius harken back to the cities origins in 123 B.C. The Roman thermal baths have held their temperature since ancient times. Take a swim in the thermal spa while appreciating the architecture that was built around these natural springs.

The city also has over forty fountains and the passage of water is a historic monument to Aix. Walking down the streets, you are never too far from running water! The Fontaine de la Rotonde is the largest in the city. It stands upon the Cours Mirabeau with three statues symbolizing the identifiable assets of Aix: Agriculture, Justice, and Fine Arts.

The home of Paul Cézanne and Émile Zola, artists alike have flocked to Aix for the whimsical call of creativity. Follow the winding boulevards into galleries and shops and experience your own calling.The iconic brasserie (brewery) Les Deux Garçons was loved by Artists like Cézanne, Zola, Piaf, Cocteau, Sartre, and Picasso, holds the character of those artists who drank here. Along the Cours Mirabeau, take a break at this café and enjoy why so many artists make themselves known in Aix

You can't leave Aix without falling in love with the vibrant French-Mediterranean flavors. The food begins with a simple and fresh ingredient which is illuminated by several herbs and spices grown in the region. With a wide variety of seafood from the French Rivera to the hearty meals of the country, Aix has everything to fill your stomach.

Terrine Aubergine (Eggplant Loaf) is very common in the Provençal region. A variety of ingredients accompany the eggplant, such as: garlic, coriander, chives, peppers, tomatoes, and chicken. This is a very filling meal, but don’t forget to save room for dessert! Calisson are bite sized, almond shaped treats are an local specialty. With a distinct melon or orange flavor, these marzipan-like candied fruits are blended into a paste, baked, and topped with icing. They have a memorable taste that can’t be beat!

Aix-en-Provence has the ambiance to capture any heart. The city retains its history in Vieille Ville (Old Town) but still feels decidedly modern. Promenade through the open markets and tree lined streets and admire the beauty that is Aix. The Cours Mirabeauis a breath taking icon for Aix. The main drag is lined with canopied trees. Local cafés and shops along the rue set the tone of peacefulness, with the ubiquitous southern charm. Through July, the Festival D’Aix is a great way to experience local culture. The festival has an abundance of theatrical performances along with tons of concerts. Be on the lookout for local specials during the summer event at eating establishments along the Cours Mirabeau.

Culture Shock and Support

It is common for students and travelers alike to become homesick a new culture . No matter where you're traveling, follow these tips to build your support system:

You are not alone. When studying abroad, more than likely, you will meet a group of students who share a common identity, whether it be home country, first language, or the travel bug. Always step out of your comfort zone and talk with other students at your university, who are in your classes, or who you often see in your favorite café. You will learn a lot about the city in which you live, and you will make friends who will help you feel at home. Aix-en-Provence is a city that thrives on the presence students. It is a city built in your favor!

It is OK to be a tourist. Well, not all of the time, but when you first arrive in a city, make sure you hit all of the tourist attractions, fountains, and museums. Once you become acquainted with your surroundings, you don't have to stand out as an outsider, rather, tourists will be asking YOU for directions to the sights. It is a major confidence booster and a great way to meet others.

Try new things. Whether you are at the park or at a restaurant, there are always new tastes to try and new things to do. A foreign country can be harsh at first, but once you ask questions, meet the locals, and experience their way of life, you will feel like a native. You won’t regret a new experience!

Helpful Hints / Insider Tips

August to October is the best time to visit the Aix-en-Provence region due to the warm weather and blooming fields of lavender. The weather can be very frigid in the winter, and if you are inland, be prepared for wind and cold.

Open markets are the best way to find fresh and local produce, along with meeting the people who grew the crops! You can always snag a better deal on your fruits and veggies at a market rather than in a store.

Affordability

With a student visa and/or a student identification card from your French university, most museums have discounted or gratuite (free) admission. With the multitudes of different museums, such as Musée Granet and Atelier Cézanne, who wouldn't want to spend all of their free time admiring the masters?

Study abroad doesn't have to break the bank. Or even the piggy bank! Here are some great scholarships that will help you get to Aix!

Contributed by Aime Szymanski.

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