Little Black Book

How to Enjoy the Simple Life in Provence (With Your Kids in Tow)

by Shirin von Wulffen
Hotel Family time at Hotel de Caumont. All photos by Shirin von Wulffen.

Several times a year, Bastide co-founder Shirin von Wulffen, along with her husband (celebrity hairstylist Frédéric Fekkai) and their two children, escapes New York City for the small, classically Provençal town, Aix-en-Provence. We tapped her for a list of go-to, kid-friendly spots. The ones her family frequents over and over again.

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France - My family spends four months of the year in my husband’s hometown, Aix-en-Provence. Eight years ago, we bought and restored an old bastide (farmhouse) and have come to relish the simple life of eating fresh food from our garden and the local markets and exploring the village with our family. More recently, our life in Provence (and the rosy cheeks our kids get from spending time there) lead us to create our clean beauty line, Bastide, which is inspired by the wellness philosophy of Provence and the herbs, flowers, oils, and honey from the region’s terroir. Here are my family’s go-to spots for eating, drinking, and enjoying life — the ones that make this part of the world especially magical for those traveling with children.

Fresh produce at Market Place Richelme.
Perusing the gift shop at Hotel de Caumont.


Where to Eat and Drink

Hôtel de Caumont
3 Rue Joseph Cabassol, Aix-en-Provence; +33-4-42-20-70-01
For friends visiting with kids, the 18th-century private mansion is a favorite. The building was lovingly restored and converted into an art center with wonderful exhibitions. Kids are offered special guide books to complete in treasure hunt-style. The tours are short and end in a beautifully curated gift shop. We always stay for lunch or cake and tea in the adjoining Marie Antoinette-style cafe.

Hotel de Gallifet
52 Rue Cardinale, Aix-en-Provence; +33-9-53-84-37-61
The owner, Nicolas Mazet, has converted his 18th-century family manor house into a center for contemporary art exhibitions. You can enjoy lunch or dinner in the lovely courtyard (where the kids can run around the statues) and then walk through the house to see the exhibitions.

Chez Jo
59 Rue Espariat, Aix-en-Provence; +33-4-42-26-12-47
Located next to the beautiful Fontaine des Augustins, this simple pizza place is a casual dinner spot where kids can run around the fountain and throw coins in to make wishes.

Les Fils A Maman
42 Rue de la Verrerie, Aix-en-Provence; +33-9-81-21-20-97
The name translates to “Mamma’s Boys,” so the menu is designed for big and little kids who love home-cooked meals. Located in an old church, the space is beautiful and fun for children.

Philippe Faur
57 Cours Mirabeau, Aix-en-Provence; +33-4-42-22-02-35
Hands-down the best artisanal ice cream in town. Enjoy while people-watching from a stone bench on the Cours Mirabeau.

Bar Le Grillon
49 Cours Mirabeau, Aix-en-Provence; +33-4-42-27-58-81
For the best people-watching in town, head to the farmers market at Place Richelme or enjoy a coffee on the terrasse at this restaurant located on the famous Cours Mirabeau.

A family dinner at Chez Jo Pizzeria.
Ice cream at Philippe Faur.

Where to Shop

Bastide
14 Rue Espariat, Aix-en-Provence; +33-4-84-47-00-29
Right in the heart of Aix, our flagship store is just steps away from one of Provence’s most historic squares, the Place d’Albertas. We collaborated with local architect Amelia Tavella to create the atmosphere of a typical country-house from the south of France, where families gather to share good food and laughter. The space is warm and friendly, and a welcome retreat that invites guests of all ages to come in, slow down, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

Papeterie Michel
59 Cours Mirabeau, Aix en Provence; +33-4-42-38-24-65
The oldest and most amazing art store in Aix. We stock up on Usborne sticker books and art supplies, then head to the second floor for new crafting ideas.

Emilie et Compagnie
9 Rue Paul Bert, Aix En Provence; +33-4-42-92-69-63
A gem of a toy store for classic French school backpacks, wooden toys, and kid gifts. Also great for decor inspiration.

Le Petit Souk
24 Rue Gaston De Saporta, Aix en Provence; +33-4-42-28-42-12
A feast for the eyes, this store is filled with fun gadgets, cute costumes, kid-friendly jewelry, and amazing Tupperware.

The scene at Le Village des Antiquaires de la Gare.

Where to Day Trip

Chateau la Coste
2750 Route De La Cride, Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade; +33-4-42-61-92-92
A twenty-minute drive from Aix, it’s best to arrive at this resort and winery around 10 a.m. to have plenty of time for a tour of the art and sculpture garden. By foot, it’s quite a hike, so too tough for small children, but you can call ahead to book a driven tour or rent electric bikes. Be sure to check out the wine shop and stock up on the award-winning rosé. They also sell our Bastide collection. Dine at La Terrasse, the outdoor cafe, for lunch or dinner. The cafe features great fresh produce from the property. In the winter, La Terrasse is closed, but Tadao Ando is a great alternative with a more sophisticated menu that still works for kids. If you have a large group, reserve ahead.

L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
Called the “Venice of Provence,” this village is built around the Sorgue River with charming little bridges and water wheels all around. We usually avoid the village center and head straight to the antique vendors. I like to give my kids a bit of money so they can search for a “gem” of some kind to add to their collections. We start at Le Village des Antiquaires de la Gare, one of ten antique villages around the town. Then we head to another antique “mall,” Le Quai, which is next door to Le Jardin du Quai, where we often dine on the wonderful shady terrace. The higher-end dealers are around Le Carre d’Herbes, so we also eat lunch there or go for a coffee break.

The courtyard at Villa La Coste.

Where to Stay

Villa La Coste
2750 Route de la Cride, Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade; +33-4-42-50-50-00
A beautiful five-star hotel located twenty minutes outside Aix. In the heart of the biodynamic vineyard Château La Coste, it's an international destination for art, architecture, and natural beauty.

Villa Gallici
18 Avenue de la Violette, Aix-en-Provence; +33-4-42-23-29-23
Just five minutes outside the city center, this beautiful italian-inspired oasis is perfect for kids. A pool, garden, spa, and lovely restaurant make it a wonderful place to relax after long day trips around the region.

Keep Exploring Provence

A Hotel to Remember in a Medieval Village
Stunning Opulence in Art Aix-En-Provence at Villa Gallici
Aix Marks the Spot