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Aix-en-Provence: B&B Maison de Carlotta


Reviewed by: Donna Marie from US, review #2716

When: September 2009

Exquisite B&B in the heart of Aix!

La Maison de Carlotta, centrally located in the heart of Aix right off the Cours Mirabeau, is a charming B & B on a small, narrow street a few blocks from the famous Fontaine des Quartre Dauphins. Though we were booked for only a few nights, Aline's hospitality and her peaceful, music filled home decorated in exquisite good taste, easily could have seduced us into staying much longer.

We arrived in the evening, exhausted and a bit cranky from a very long drive. Aline made us feel immediately at home. Some refreshment, a friendly chat and we were shown our room at the top of a circular staircase. Our bedroom (one of three) overlooking the Rue Frederic Mistral, was gorgeous with double-paned windows, freshly pressed linens, antique Provencal furniture, bottled water and a bowl of delicious candies and nuts. The bed was the most comfortable of our entire visit to France.

The bathroom was spacious with bathrobes provided and toiletries for our use. We shared a toilet room in the hall with another guest but this was no problem for us.

Breakfasts were on the lovely terrace, delicious and plentiful. Freshly brewed coffee with steamed milk, juice, real french toast, jams, breads, butter and fruit, all served on beautiful fine china with the sounds of soft classical music playing in the background.

La Maison is so perfectly situated that once you park your car you never need it again unless you want to explore areas outside of Aix. Almost everything you could possibly want to see or explore is within walking distance. Wonderful restaurants and bistros abound. A stay in Aix especially at La Maison de Carlotta is a MUST for those exploring the beauty that is Provence.

Reviewed by: Kaydee from TN, review #2007

When: June 2007

A charming two-room B&B in the Quartier Mazarin, just two blocks off the Cours Mirabeau. Wonderful host family.

Breakfast at La Maison de Carlotta, photo by Kathy Wood

I spent two nights at La Maison de Carlotta, at the beginning of an extended stay in Aix to attend a French language school.

This is a B&B located in the apartment of a French family right in the center of Aix-in Provence, in the beautiful Quartier Mazarin. The house is two blocks off the Cours Mirabeau, just one block down from the Fontaine des Quartre Dauphins. You don't need a car in Aix, but if you have one, parking is available at several city parking garages a short walk away. (I think the parking was €8 a day.)

I’ve stayed several times at B&Bs in the French countryside, but this was the first time I had stayed at a B&B in a city, in an apartment (vs. a separate private home). It is unique alternative to staying in one of the larger, more impersonal hotels in Aix. The owner — Aline — has a large apartment occupying two floors of a large building. Her apartment’s entrace is on the second floor of the building, and then the two B&B guest rooms are located within her apartment, up another floor. Aline’s delightful daughter Carlotta also lives there, and Carlotta's bedroom is on the same floor as the two guest rooms.

The house is beautifully decorated with antiques (including a large white piano in the living room), mostly in fresh whites. I had the smaller of the two bedrooms, which was cool and comfortable. My room included a narrow en-suite bathroom with a toilet, sink and shower.

One of the best features of the B&B was the little outdoor terrace just across from my room, where breakfast is served for the guests in good weather. (I was the only person there during my two nights.) Aline served a delicious and attractively-presented breakfast with coffee, juice, fresh breads, jams, and fresh fruit.

Two other wonderful features of the B&B are Aline and Carlotta. Aline was so welcoming when I arrived, coming downstairs to help me with my luggage and insisting I sit and have a freshly-squeezed lemonade before going up to my room. (I was exhausted after walking from the Gare Routiere at the other end of the Cours Mirabeau on a hot June afternoon on my arrival day from the USA.)

Aline speaks English very well and is an ideal B&B host ... one of those people whose personality really lends itself well to this type of business. I loved being around her. Her daughter Carlotta is sunny and friendly, loves to speak English ... and a very talented pianist.

I really enjoyed my short stay at La Maison de Carlotta, and I would definitely stay here again.

Reviewed by: trishmael from LA, review #1969

When: June 2007

Romantic B&B in Mazarin district, featured in decorating magazine. Wonderful hospitality!

La Maison de Carlotta was utterly gorgeous, with a warm and charming hostess (Aline d'Aquilante). The B&B has two guest rooms, which are located upstairs on the top floor of Aline's beautifully decorated 2-story apartment.

The layout might seem a little strange for those accustomed to B&Bs in houses, vs. apartments, but we thought it was a most creative and smart use of space. You wind up feeling a bit like a member of the family, with Ailine's daughter, Carlotta, staying upstairs, too.

There's a good balance of private and shared space, and we never felt the slightest bit awkward - quite the inverse; it was lovely for our first time in France to compare notes with other guests at breakfast on the shared terrace. Carlotta is a pianist studying at conservatory; there's a baby grand piano in the parlor downstairs, and it was lovely now and again to hear notes wafting up the stairs (never at night, so no worries there). Both Aline and Carlotta made us feel at home; we were very taken with them.

To enter our room (the larger of the 2 guest rooms) you unlock the street door, go up 2 floors and unlock the main door to Aline's apartment, then hang a hard left and up one more narrow staircase to the top. We didn't mind the climb but I could see where it could be hard for some folks. It was pretty amazing to watch Aline balancing an overloaded breakfast tray up and down, refusing help. Our room had a working fireplace (although we were there in June so didn't use it) and a lovely ensuite bathroom with an enormous tub and towel warmer. The toilet was in a separate room, in the hall (like a closet, really) and is shared (I think it is--but we never had to wait). The shower for the other room is in a separate small room next to the WC.

Our room had French doors that opened onto the shared small terrace, with flowers and a dining table and views over the rooftops and Mt. St. Victoire far off in the background. The other side of our room faced the street (Rue Frederic Mistral, just 2 blocks off the Cours). There is a lot of street noise on that side, but if we closed the double-pane window we couldn't hear it at all, and we could keep the inside terrace doors propped open for the lovely breeze. I slept like a baby.

The style of all the rooms is romantic Provencale, with weathered terra cotta floors, antiques, and linen drapes, all in luminous pale white, off-white, yellows and pinks. This is one of the most beautiful places we've ever stayed. A few days into our stay the Australian couple in the other room asked if we'd seen "the magazine." No - but Aline proudly produced it, an issue of a glossy design magazine, "Maisons & Decors Méditerranée" with a 6-page spread on Maison de Carlotta. She gave Gary a copy to take home.

Breakfasts were really, really good. Aline used to run a restaurant, and even from breakfasts you can tell she's an accomplished cook: homemade bread, compotes, cheese, juice, and all the coffee we could drink with hot milk, all served on china and with real silver. We brought pecans from our trees in Louisiana as gifts for several folks this trip, and we gave her some along with LA raw sugar and Gary's recipe for pecan pie. It was supposed to be *her* treat, but she made us a to-die-for French version (with of course plenty of butter) and served it at breakfast--that was so lovely and sweet of her. One night she had us and the other guests down to her flat for hors d'oeuvres and wine.

There were other personal touches: our room came with hats to wear (Gary's made him look like he walked out of a Cezanne painting) and one afternoon I noticed that the shirt he had washed out and left on the towel rack was missing. When we returned that night it had been ironed and hung up in the armoire. I think Gary was a little in love with Aline. Me too. By midweek we were tutoyer-ing and bise-bise-ing like family. She helped me with my French, encouraging me as I fumbled around for the right words, and she got up early on our last morning to give us breakfast down in her dining room before we had to catch our early train. We could not have asked for a better welcome for our first week ever in France.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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