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Beautiful, beautiful, Aix. Land of Cezanne. Childhood stomping ground of Zola. Purveyor of more jaw-droppingly gorgeous fountains than you can throw a pétanque at.
This lovely small city located just 30 minutes north of Marseille dates back to 123 BC and is the historic southern home of the French upper crust.
Aix-en-Provence has a lot going for it. The city boasts over 300 days of sunshine each year (but be wary of the weird and windy mistral season in late winter and early spring), a full calendar of cultural events and activities throughout the year, an excellent collection of museums and galleries, and a thriving population of students canvassing the cafes and bistros.
But Aix also doesn’t stray too far from it’s well-heeled past: It’s expensive.
If you’re planning a visit to Aix – and we think you should! – we have a few suggestions for ways to do it on the cheapo.
Location: Be central, but don’t overdue it
Aix isn’t a big place. Most of the “big draws” share a convenient truth: They’re located either in Aix’ Centre Ville or a very short walk away. If you expect to visit the morning market at Place Richelme, order a cafe crême from a surly waiter at Les Deux Garcons, or go on a photo-binge of the many fountains in Aix, you’ll be spending your time in a fairly compact area.
As a result, it is not necessary to try to book a room smack dab on the Cours Mirabeau – many less expensive options abound less than a 10- minute walk away. Save your money – you’ll need it.
Aix hotel tips
Avoid paying for your breakfast at your hotel, unless it’s complimentary (even then, make sure you compare rates for rooms that do and don’t include breakfast to see the difference). Part of the joy of Aix en Provence is being outside for meals at all times of the day. We can hardly think of anything better than a fresh baguette from a local boulangerie and a coffee while sitting in one of the city’s many squares.
If you’re visiting during any month other than July and August, don’t obsess about booking a hotel with air conditioning. While it can warm up during the day, it cools down at night and you won’t need it.
If you need Wi-Fi access while traveling, make sure that you’re clear whether this is provided by the hotel for free or if it’s an additional charge. Most of the hotels we recommend on EuroCheapo tend to offer free Wi-Fi access, but it does vary by property. Know before you book.
Also, keep in mind that if you plan on staying “inside the ring” of Centre Ville, you’ll likely be staying in a very old, potentially historic location that hasn’t changed much in many, many years. What this adds in charm might also mean it lacks in certain amenities. For example: elevators. In general, the further you stray from Centre Ville, the more modern the hotel will be.
A few of our recommended budget hotels in Aix
Here are three hotel suggestions we have for your next trip to Aix. Each property is recommended based on its combination of location, price, amenities offered and if we think it represents a good deal.
Hotel du Globe
74, cours Sextius
Located in the center of Aix en Provence, this two-star offers 46 rooms with a private bathroom, air conditioning, cable TV and free Wi-Fi.
3, rue de la Masse-angle cours Mirabeau
If you absolutely, positively must be inside the ring, the Des Augustins will put you next to the Cours Mirabeau without wiping out your entire budget. The Des Augustins is housed in a former 12th-century convent and offers the “best” location of our picks.
Rates start at $129 / night for doubles.
Hotel de France
63 Rue Espariat
The Hotel de France is located so close to La Rotonde at the western end of Cours Mirabeau that you can practically feel the fountain’s mist. Ok, that might be a tad much, but you get the picture: This hotel is all about location, yet manages to offer moderate prices even during peak season.
This two-star property has 27 rooms, each with flat screen TV and free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is an extra fee, but you’ll be surrounded by cafes and plentiful other options to start your day off in style.
More suggestions? Ready to find the perfect hotel in Aix for your budget? Head to our budget travel guide to Aix en Provence, for more hotel picks and budget travel tips.