We chose the Hotel de France based on the recommendation of the local Office de Tourisme. It being the low season (November), we were able to take advantage of a very good deal on a room for 2 nights. It was an interesting love/hate experience.
The hotel and our room were very nicely appointed. Our room was one level above the street. High quality amenities in the room, clean and comfortable bedding, beautiful art and decor. There was a modern-ness to the room which made it stylish and a pleasure to stay in. Bathroom facilities worked well and the room was spacious by European standards -- a King-sized bed, a separate and very comfortable reclined chair, plus a small desk area. Wi-fi was free and fast. Basically, we loved the room.
Until night fell. The Hotel is situated in Place Saint-Augustin, a VERY crowded and busy plaza just off La Rotonde, and which contains several cafes, bars, and shops. During the day, there was a decent amount of crowd noise, which was expected, but didn't bother us as we were out and about. We took a day trip to the Camargue (not to be missed!) and visited the Vasarely Foundation. When evening rolled around, everyone flocked to the cafes and restaurants to dine and chat, and the noise level grew steadily. Of course, the French dine late (as did we), but we found that the noise level continued to climb and climb throughout the night, being even louder at 12:30 AM than it was at 8:30 PM. We closed the shutters (which were in rather poor condition but were necessary in order to ensure visual privacy) as well as the windows. The windows cut out a good deal of the noise, but that is to say that the noise level went from a level I will describe as "standing next to a jet engine" (when the windows were open) to a level I will call "trying to sleep in the middle of a crowded train station" (after we closed the windows). Essentially, the windows did not cut out enough noise to make it possible to sleep well. By the way, Aix is filled with college-aged students (my French friends warned me about this), so anything you've heard about the French being quiet or reserved can be disregarded ... at about 1AM the whooping, screaming, and drunken hollering started, lasting until about 2:30-3AM. Finally quiet ... then the night workers started hosing down the plaza, then the trash truck came through ... it's a NOISY little square. After the first sleepless night, my wife bought earplugs and slept a little better. However, I highly advise you to consider the noise factor ... I am not sure if other rooms (possibly higher up or better windows) might provide better noise isolation, but I don't recommend room 1 if you are planning on sleeping before 3AM.
It's too bad ... the location is otherwise great, being right near La Rotonde and central Aix, walking distance to everything, and unlike Arles, the city was very much alive in November. And the room was very nice and comfortable. It's just that the location and the noise made sleep very difficult.
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