In the upscale tourist hub of Aix-en-Provence, lodgings tend to be extremely expensive or bare-bones backpacker hangouts. Hotel Cardinal is a rare compromise, with affordable rooms in a beautiful neighborhood just a short walk from the bustling esplanade of the Cours Mirabeau. Don't be put off by the shabby lobby--the 18th-century building is being slowly renovated, and the ebullient owner made the guest rooms her first priority. Most have had a makeover, with reproduction period fabrics and furniture as well as sparkling bathrooms and new mattresses, but the hallways and common areas have a long way to go. The real deals are the suites in the nearby annex. Some are still a little dingy, but they're quite large, with eat-in kitchens--a couple have private gardens--and they cost only $92. Doubles $77; 23 rooms, six suites, elevator in the main building. 24 rue Cardinale, 011-33/4-42-38-32-30, fax 011-33/4-42-26-39-05.