OK, I have cheated again. I have still never visited a city beginning with the letter X. Two years ago my cheat was EXeter and now I am going for the delightful French city. In fact Exeter and Aix could easily be twinned.
Both historic Roman cities, both surrounded by beautiful countryside and both with distinguished universities, beautiful cathedrals and a vibrant student led nightlife. Of course they both sound like they begin with the letter X too!
Aix en Provence
I first visited in 2014 as part of a driving & train tour of France, driving a hired Fiat 500 soft top from Cannes. So Princess Grace! The second time was as a side trip from Marseille in 2018, which we had travelled to on a direct Eurostar train from London.
The Roman Catholic cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Aix-en-Provence and Arles.
Built on the site of the 1st-century Roman forum of Aix, the cathedral was constructed and altered from the 12th until the 19th century.
My favourite part was the ornate cloister, though the whole church is very lovely.
Aix is known as the City of a Thousand Fountains. We didn’t find quite that many but you come across one at pretty much every corner you turn.
The Romans called Aix Aquae Sextiae (The Waters of Sextius) ever since they discovered the natural thermal water source and installed their Roman baths.
The fountains are an homage to the Roman status of the city and mostly date from the 17th Century onwards.
The main boulevard of Aix is considered by many as the most beautiful street in France.
The street is lined on both sides with wonderful plane trees and has lovely fountains at both ends, plus others at different intervals of its 440 metre length and 42 metre width.
During the warmer months the many cafes spill out onto the pavement and there is also a very interesting flea market on some days.
Apart from that Aix is just a lovely place to wander, to sit drinking coffee in a shady square or to soak up the lively nightlife.
One of my favourite French cities for sure.
The Villages of Provence
Aix is also a fabulous base for a visit the villages and countryside of Provence.
Or the Roman towns of Arles, Orange and Nimes
Or even the Camargue region with its fabulous flora and fauna, including a wonderful bird sanctuary that we visited.
The city beginning with the letter X that I would most like to visit that I haven’t yet? Xian in China to see the Terracotta Army.
How about you?
Look out for Y tomorrow.