We feel so lucky to have discovered La Maison de Carlotta, where we spent four nights in May. The delightful rooms and charming owner were a great introduction to Provence.
The spacious two-storey apartment is at the top of one of the elegant old houses in the 17th/18th-century Mazarin quarter. It’s on a narrow side street just a few minutes’ walk from the Cours Mirabeau in the centre of Aix. This is the house where Cézanne’s wife, Hortense, is said to have lived in the 1890s after she fell out with the in-laws. The owner of La Maison de Carlotta, Aline D’Aquilante, has refurbished the apartment very stylishly – Farrow & Ball paint, linen curtains, terracotta floors, antique furniture – and it was featured in a French interior design magazine. Yet it is also homely, relaxed and inviting.
The three bedrooms are arranged around a pretty terrace, where guests can have breakfast or drinks. Two of the bedrooms have well-equipped en suite bathrooms, and the third has private use of a large bathroom just next door. The beds are very comfortable.
On the floor below are the living room, dining room and kitchen, where breakfast is served at the communal dining table. We enjoyed chatting to other guests and to Aline, who is very friendly and warm, and whose English is excellent. Our breakfasts were superb (she used to run a restaurant specializing in Provençal food), with a different cooked treat every day, plus freshly prepared fruit salad or strawberries with fromage blanc, freshly squeezed juice, goat’s cheese, muesli, yogurt, pastries, breads, homemade jam (try the fig).
Aline was very helpful in advising us on restaurants, excursions, the Aix festival, etc. She is incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the arts, and the apartment is filled with art, books and, downstairs, the sound of classical music and opera.
Aix is a beautiful and buzzy town, with a maze of medieval streets to explore. But what we enjoyed most was staying in Aline’s home. It was obvious that she takes a genuine interest in her guests, and she does everything she can to make their stay a happy one.