LES DEUX GARÇONS
The establishment was purchased in 1840 by Guerin and Guidoni two waiters who gave the current brasserie its name, and it became a haunt for the beau monde of Aix. Paul Cezanne enjoyed a very leisurely three-hour apéritif before dinner daily with the novelist Emile Zola, or with other artists also partial to the simple peasant dish aïoli.
Many other famous names have downed a glass here too, including Picasso, Churchill, Piaf, Delon, Belmondo and Cocteau. More recently, Sophie Marceau, Hugh Grant and Georges Clooney all dropped by. Sketches of some of these clients decorate the walls on the main staircase.
Today the classy ambiance remains, though the clientele is just as likely to consist of tourists and students, described thus by Peter Mayle in A Year in Provence: “Aix is a university town and there is clearly something in the curriculum that attracts pretty students. The terrace of the Deux Garçons is always full of them as if they are taking a degree course in café deportment…”
Waiters in long black aprons zip to and fro and along the wide terrace where patrons watch the world in the generous shade of a plane tree in summer or the comforting glow of an outdoor heater in winter. The food is traditional bistro fare although regulars are known to linger over a rosé, a pastis or a coffee.
You don’t go there for its food or its service (though both are perfectly adequate) but to soak up its rich history, marvel at the ornate First Empire interior and bask on the terrace, a wonderfully pleasant spot simply to sit and watch the passing parade.
53 bis Cours Mirabeau,
13100 Aix-en-Provence, France