The Mole Diaries: Aix-en-Provence (Volume 5)

by Manuel F. Picaud

This article was written by Laura Macfarlane, published on 14th July 2014 and has been read 2978 times.

Laura Macfarlane is currently studying French and Spanish at University of Stirling and spent a semester in Aix-en-Provence on an Erasmus exchange. Here she shares her tips for surviving university life, finding the best eateries and avoiding the rain...

About the university

Registering at Aix-Marseille Université on arrival should be relatively easy, as long as you turn up on time and bring any required documents. For me, the confusion came when I had to pick modules, as you have to go to each department and choose classes from the timetables (making sure of no clashes!). If you are in this situation I would advise you not to panic, and to take your time. At least by the end of it I knew my way a bit better around the maze of the ‘Fac de Lettres’ building.


I found that the classes were different from those of my home university and also lasted longer. Having a three hour class is a normal thing, so it’s a good idea to eat something before it and to bring a bottle of water. Even if it is a hard-going linguistics class, be sure to stay awake in case you get asked a question!


There is a theatre at the university and I would say it’s definitely worth going to see at least one of the performances, which are put on by students (a good chance to improve your French listening skills as you try to follow the storyline!). Take time to read the posters on the walls and to notice boards around the university as you will find some interesting events taking place there and elsewhere.

Favourite Cafés

Aix-en-Provence has a plethora of places to hang out, including some nice cafés.


A personal favourite of mine was Coco Bohème, and I know that it will be a favourite for many other students. No matter what was in store for the rest of the week, my friends and I would manage to make time for the chocolate fountain and tea (there are plenty of flavours to choose from) on a Monday evening, accompanied by board games. There is also a quiz night and an open mic night so it’s all happening there!


Another gem of a place is L’Orienthé, a ‘salon de thé’ which we discovered later on in the semester. I’m glad we came across it as it has a relaxed atmosphere with cool and colourful decor. The mint tea is particularly good, and so are the waffles.


If you are looking to go to a café during the day, L’AIXTRA is ideal. It’s quite small but pleasant nevertheless, and you can buy soup and sandwiches to go along with your chai tea latte or whichever drink you feel like.

Top Ten Survival Tips

1. Take advantage of being a student

    There is free entry (for students under 26 years of age) to Musée Granet 

2. Relax!

    Accept that it’s not so serious if the student cards take a while to be ready, or that shops are closed for most of Sunday.

3. Listen in class and take some time to look over notes

    It will make lessons throughout the year more enjoyable, and you will feel better for it when it comes to any exams or assessments.

4. Explore!

   A visit to the market will brighten up your day!

5. Be prepared

   Carry an umbrella if there is a chance you might get caught out in the rain. If near a road, you are likely to get splashed by a puddle ... an umbrella makes for a good shield.

6. Don't panic

   If you get lost in the streets of the Old Town, find your way back to Cours Mirabeau and start again.

7. Do things, go places and meet people

   It was the amazing people I met and the amazing places I visited that made my ‘Aix’perience so ... amazing!

8. Remember to sleep and have some rest!

   All that studying and exploring the beautiful places near Aix can be exhausting so take time to recharge your batteries.

9. Practice the language

   Speak French and persevere!

10. When it’s finally time to leave, try not to be too upset!

   Know that you have lasting memories, and can always come back to visit Aix-en-Provence in the future.

Our Mole Diaries are insider city guides written by students about their experiences, filled with top tips and recommendations. Please view our 200+ Mole Diaries arranged by language, and if you'd like to contribute, do find out more about becoming a Mole!

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