Simultaneously Chic and Quaint, City and Village
Gardens, fountains, cafés, and chateaus—Aix-en-Provence is simultaneously chic and quaint, city and village. When you first begin dreaming of your French rendezvous, you might immediately picture a vacation spent in the City of Lights, admiring the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. While a trip to Paris might be nice, we’ve decided to feature a city in the South of France, one that’s underrated yet completely worthy of the pomp and circumstance given to the oft-visited French capital. Aix-en-Provence (affectionately known as Aix) is a college town about 19 miles north of Marseille, but that doesn’t mean it’s just for students. Young adventurers, families, and empty nesters alike will find themselves falling in love with Aix. And with a pleasant 4 out of 10 on the Pasha Allergy Scale, you allergy sufferers will fall in love, too.
This city boasts 300 days of sunshine a year—talk about a happy place! With temperatures ranging from 36 to 84 degrees fahrenheit, Aix’s Mediterranean climate is the perfect antidote for the stresses of daily life. Vacationers to the South of France may experience some allergy symptoms because of pollen and ragweed, but it shouldn’t get in the way of an unforgettable and brag-worthy French getaway.
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Pollen and Ragweed—Aix-en-Provence’s Allergens and What to Do About Them
Pollen counts in the South of France tend to be a bit high when compared to the rest of the country, but keep up your usual allergy routine and you should be able to manage your symptoms and still enjoy your trip. One of the major culprits is cypress pollen, which isn’t native to Texas. Before you grab your sun hat and camera and head out for the day, check the daily pollen counts so you can be prepared if you’re in for a bad allergy day.
Ragweed is another allergen you may come across. It’s prevalent in Lyon, and while Aix is three hours away, ragweed can travel hundreds of miles. Again, your typical allergy routine should do the trick. If you’re worried about the symptoms you might face, schedule an appointment with a doctor to find a specialized plan to fight allergy triggers before you embark on your vacation.
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Now That Your Allergies Are Under Control, Let’s Have Some Fun
We could rave about Aix all day long, but don’t take our word for it. The famous artist Paul Cézanne found his inspiration here, too. In fact, you can even visit the Atelier de Cézanne, where you can see the actual studio he used to paint his masterpieces. The charming city of Aix is also home to a rich museum scene, perfect for immersing yourself in French culture and art history. The Musée Granet holds over 12,000 works of art, including original pieces from Picasso and, of course, Cézanne. If you’d like to learn about the history and traditions of Aix, visit the Musée Estienne de Saint Jean, which is housed in a stunning 17th-century mansion. Visiting these museums is the perfect activity for a day when your allergies seem to be getting the best of you.
After traipsing through the area’s famous museums, treat your tastebuds to the sweet taste of the foods Aix is famous for—honey, lavender, olives, goat cheese, and garlic are among the culinary wonders you’ll try at the Morning Market. Amidst the mouthwatering bites, you can find clothing, crafts, arts, and antiques—maybe you’ll discover the perfect painting for your dining room back home. Pack up the lunch spread you purchased at the Morning Market and head to one of Aix’s gorgeous parks for a picnic. Try the Promenade de la Torse or Jourdan Park for a relaxing day in the sun. Of course, no picnic in France is complete without a great French wine, and Aix doesn’t disappoint. Make a day of it with a winery tour. There are numerous wineries to choose from, all within a short distance of the town.
You simply cannot go to Aix-en-Provence without visiting the famous Cours Mirabeau. This tree-lined boulevard is akin to the Champs-Élysées in Paris. This thoroughfare encompasses the charm of the provincial town. Along the walkway, you can admire fountains (including the symbol of Aix, La Rotonde), stop in quaint cafés and bookshops, and admire the stunning architecture of the private mansions nestled away between the plane trees.
Take a day trip to the French Riviera—you won’t regret it. Aix is a little less than a two hour drive from the French Riviera. Most major car rental companies have locations in Aix, but you can opt for a bus or train ride if you’d prefer. Spend the day (or two, or three) on the coast exploring Nice, Cannes, Saint-Tropez, Antibes, and Cassis. Take a swim in the Mediterranean Sea, do some snorkeling, dine at cozy French cafés, or go for a hike. If you happen to visit during the Cannes Film Festival, you’ll definitely want to check that out as well. Who would want to miss an opportunity to mingle with famous directors and celebrities in the South of France?
What to Know Before You Go—A Guide to Medications in Aix-en-Provence
When you’re traveling in a foreign country, it’s always a good idea to bring with you a doctor’s letter stating your prescriptions, their generic names, and their medical necessity. Keep medication in the original packaging and make sure it’s clearly labeled, and you shouldn’t have any issues. In France, tourists can bring a three-month supply of medication without a prescription, but anything over that limit needs one. Don’t forget to bring your go-to over-the-counter medication. If you lose or run out of your medication, speak with a pharmacist. He or she can help you find exactly what you need. A couple of allergy medications you can find in French pharmacies include the following:
- Pheniramine (an antihistamine that contains the same ingredient as Triaminic)
- DoliRhume (which contains pseudoephedrine—found in Sudafed—and acetaminophen—found in Tylenol)
It’s also important to note that there are a couple of medications in France that have similar names to allergy medications in the U.S., but are used for completely different purposes. For example, Triacet in the U.S. is used to treat allergies and inflammation, while Triatec in France is used to treat high blood pressure. Flarex in the U.S. is a medication for red, watery eyes, while Flurets in France is used for cavity prevention. Remember, it’s better to check with a pharmacist than end up with the wrong medication. Cavity prevention medication probably won’t do much for your runny nose and itchy eyes.
Aix-en-Provence will provide you with a wonderful, much-needed break from the stresses of everyday life. Whether you choose to spend your vacation seeing the sights or eating as many croissants and crêpes as you can get your hands on, this lovely city and region is one you’ll want to visit over and over. Bon voyage!
Be sure to check out the Pasha Travel Guide to see this year’s top 12 travel destinations, and learn tips for traveling allergy-free. Next week, we’re featuring Jerusalem, Israel, and covering allergens to watch out for, fun activities to do while you’re there, and important medicine restrictions for travelers. Stay tuned later this week to learn about Dr. Pasha’s experience with allergies in Florence, Italy. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for more updates!