MT picks out some of the coolest, cosiest and quirkiest spots for coffee and cake in this jewel in the south of France.
Aix is undoubtedly a gem — and one to which MT hopes to return again and again.
Cobbled streets and narrow lanes hide all manner of bustling eateries: spots to sip and slurp, to pause for a nibble and a natter.
We won’t pretend to be able to cobble together a list that’s anything close to definitive; rather, here’s a collection of our current favourites from this city’s burgeoning crop of lively coffee corners.
Le Garde Manger
35-37 Cours Sextius | facebook.com/legardemangerbytwosisters/
Run by twin sisters, this light-filled spot serves tasty fresh fare — from light bites to old-school patisserie staples — alongside hot drinks and delicious juices.
Pause for lunch in the sunshine on the terrace or nestle into one of the upstairs armchairs with a good book. Eclectic modern design, bold touches and a real sense of space will make you want to ring your friends and stay for hours.
12 Rue des Bernardines | manaespresso.fr
Serving hands-down the absolute best brownies in town (in MT’s book, anyway), Mana Espresso is a bright and buzzing hub, with tables brimming with groups of friends catching up, couples sipping coffee and young professionals typing furiously on laptops peppered with crumbs.
For those craving ‘real’ carrot cake (as we always are, especially after too much cream-stuffed European patisserie), or a scrumptious veggie brunch, this tasty spot is top of the list. Plus, carefully selected coffee makes for brews fit for a connoisseur. What more could you ask for? Owned and run by an Irish couple whose impeccable French harks back to years spent living in Paris, this is friendly, laid-back deliciousness at its loveliest.
6 Rue Paul Bert | 60-degres.com
Oh, for a pot of fragrant herbal tea! This warm and welcoming modern tisanerie has ambience in spades — and an incredible array of soothing infusions to match. Pick a perch and peruse the list of bio blends — from energising pick-me-ups to calming, spiced delights.
The selection of vegan cakes varies daily, as do the freshly pressed juices. Teas are served in gorgeous teapots, with timers to indicate when your brew is ready to be tasted. Sip from a pretty patterned cup, nose in a book, or settle in for a good gossip with a mate. Forget the manic rush of the day, turn off your phone and simply inhale some serious goodness.
27 Rue Granet | anticafe.eu/aix
This unusual student favourite is unlike almost any other eatery. Here, customers pay by the hour, rather than by the mug or bowl, and help themselves to stacks of fruit, cereal, biscuits, toast and spreads. Spacious tables and little nooks make for perfect workspaces, whilst free wifi and access to a printer are a bonus for both thrifty students and long-term travellers.
Chatty staff are poised to help with printer trouble, local tips or to make drinks on request, and fun evening talks and mixers make this a well-liked watering hole for all manner of locals and expats — and an easy place to meet people if you’re new in town.
Book in Bar
4 Rue Joseph Cabassol | bookinbar.com
Forget Amazon: expats and English-speakers need venture no further than the Quartier Mazarin for their black-and-white fix. A miniature mecca for lovers of the written word, Book in Bar is precisely what it says on the tin: home to a fabulous selection of top titles and travel volumes in English, as well as a small collections in other languages.
Armed with a cup of the good stuff, take your place at one of the cosy wooden tables and settle in for an afternoon of leafing through magazines or immersing yourself in a new novel. Feeling peckish? Nothing accompanies a book better than a slice of something sweet — and there’s no shortage of cakes here. Look out for regular events, including lively book club evenings.
20 Rue Jacques de la Roque | instagram.com/cafeism_/
It may be tough to nab a table at this hole-in-the-wall café, but coffee lovers should find it well worth the wait. Popular with tourists – Cafeism is renowned for the best coffee in town – and students alike, a simple menu means that the focus is very much on excellent espressos and scrumptious cappuccinos, with the odd chocolate chip cookie on the side. A coffee haven with friendly staff, offering barista lessons to those looking to hone their skills.
Got an Aix favourite that’s not in this list? Let us know in the comments below!
WORDS BY SASKIA WALKER | IMAGES BY CHRIS ROWLANDS