Welcome to Aix en Provence
Aix has been a cultured, high-IQ sort of spot since Good King René had it as his 15th-century Provençal capital, bringing in artists, lawyers and nobles. They've kept on coming. Zola spent his youth in Aix as, more noticeably, did Paul Cézanne, a local lad. The Mazarin district has aristocratic town-houses by the discreet street-full. One of Europe's greatest opera festivals is a summer fixture.
The rest of France - notably the neighbours down the road in Marseille - thinks the city very far up itself, in a haut-bourgeois sort of way. But that's wrong. The elegance is, after all, southern, underpinned by Latin rhythms coursing through narrow streets, grand squares and an entire civilisation of bars and restaurants.