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Aix-en-Provence quiet but vibrant retreat

Aix-en-Provence in southern France is a quiet small town full of artistic vibes. Life is simple and relaxing here and it is often called the ‘city of a thousand fountains' because there are so many of them large and small throughout the town.

Shops all over

A short stroll through Aix-en-Provence reveals many medieval Gothic and Renaissance-style buildings. Small classic cottages full of charm stand side by side among old Roman structures. There is a stretch of specialty shops in the plaza that are ideal for going on a treasure hunt. Explore and there are shops offering dried fruits and nuts that shoppers can sample before they buy, and round the corner are specialty shops selling clothes made the owners. Art takes time to develop, and here the locals can follow their hearts and fulfill their dreams without stress.

Meet the artisans

Excitement in Aix-en-Provence goes beyond the small plaza and extends to Mirabeau Avenue on weekends. The individual stalls under small white tents have many local residents selling their home-made wares and handicrafts. Talk with the artisans and they will tell the stories behind their work, design ideas and production process.

Let taste stir memories

Lavender is in full bloom during summer. Travel via train from Aix-en-Provence to Avignon to see vast purple fields of lavender along the way. The locals make bow-shaped sachets with lavender branches and ribbons for tourists so that they can remember the aroma.

Aix-en-Provence travel tips

Transportation: Travelling from Paris to Aix-en-Provence via the high speed train takes about three hours. Take a bus to the city centre.

Currency: EURO

View point: Tourist maps and information on seasonal programmes, exhibitions and concerts are available at a visitor information centre.

Climate: Summer is the best time to stroll through the town. Wear a thin coat in the morning and at night to avoid catching a cold.

Aix-en-Provence Tourist Office website: www.aixenprovencetourism.com

(By Vivien Yuen, winner of the first SHKP Young Writers' Debut competition.)

Leisure afternoon with friends at a sidewalk cafe
Youngsters play in the plaza fountain
Special lavender sachets at the bazaar
Endless fields of lavender
Elegant, classic houses