Visit Aix-en-Provence (Provence, France)
Aix-en-Provence is located 25 km north of Marseille, and to the south of the villages of the Luberon. in the Bouches-du-Rhone department of Provence.
At the end of the 15th century Aix was capital of Provence under the successful leadership of King René, and several of the buildings and highlights of the town date from this period of prosperity. This period ended in the 16th century with various political disputes, followed by great suffering during the Wars of Religion.
It is now a vibrant, lively town with a university founded during the golden era 600 years ago, and has all you would expect in a sunny Provencal town - sunny squares filled with cafes, broad avenues lined with plane trees, and a substantial historical centre lined with boutiques and attractive houses...and more cafes.
Your visit will start along the main thoroughfare - the Cours Mirabeau. This broad street runs east to west through central Aix-en-Provence, and is lined on both sides with grand houses built during the 17th-18th centuries, a time of great prosperity for the town. It follows the line of the original city ramparts.
The Cours Mirabeau is also well known for its 17th - 19th century fountains. Running east to west (starting from the Tourist Ofice) these are:
- The Rotunde (in the middle of a busy roundabout) is the largest, with lions around the base and statues above.
- The fountain of nine canons
- The mossy fountain, so-called because it's covered in moss! (Although the fountain of nine canons is also covered in moss).
- The Fountain of King René, at the western end of Cours Mirabeau.
Running north off Cours Mirabeau from near the Fountain of King René is a very narrow alley called the Agard Passage. (This alley is said to contain a cafe which Cézanne frequented, called 'The Deux Garcons' - I searched the alley and failed to find it but I am assured it is there!)
The main historical town is also found to the north of Cours Mirabeau. There are various sights to enjoy, but it is the overall setting that is most interesting. There are a great number of attractive streets, with grey shuttered, pastel coloured houses - many now converted at ground level into shops, cafes and boutiques. There are also an improbably large number of shady open squares, filled with cafes. Some of the particular sights include:
- The Saint Sauveur cathedral. The highlight of the cathedral is inside - the 'Burning Bush triptych by Nicolas Froment showing Moses receiving the word of God from an angel. The main characters in the two side panels are King René and his second wife.
- The town hall, an ornate 17th century building with a very impressive clocktower near its entrance
- The Law Courts, dating from 1832 (I found it a bit characterless but I'm no expert!).
- The very lovely Pavillon de Vendome (a grand house), with an equally perfect garden to the front is to the north-east of the centre, not very well signposted, but perhaps the single most impressive building in Aix-en-Provence. There are plenty of benches around the garden to sit and recover from walking the streets.
A further short walk north from the cathedral you can visit Cezanne's studio in the town, preserved as it was a century ago at the time of his death.
Also in this part of the town is the original site of Roman baths - called Thermes Sextius. There is now a more recent spa facility on the site - if you pass through the entrance you can see part of the original Roman baths.
Museums in Aix-en-Provence
There are several interesting museums to be found;
- The Museum of Natural History, best known for its dinosaurs and dinosaur eggs
- The Museum of Old Aix, presenting the history of the town
- The impressive 17th century tapestries in the Museum of Tapestries
- The Granet Museum. An art museum with some very impressive exhibits of painting and sculptures. Apart from the 'classical rooms' that have art from the 14th to 19th centuries, the highlights are the Cezanne Room, with nine paintings by Cezanne; and the collection of Modern Art (Klee, Picasso, Mondrian...)
Aix-en-Provence is twinned with Perugia (Umbria, Italy)
Photos of Aix-en-Provence
Click any picture to start the gallery
Tourist classifications for Aix-en-Provence
Aix-en-Provence is classified as a historical protected town centre' (secteur sauvegardé)
Address: Aix-en-Provence, Bouches-du-Rhone, Provence, 13090 || GPS: latitude 43.524, longitude 5.4541
Map of Aix-en-Provence & places nearby
Highlights close by
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Aix-en-Provence, France
- Jardin d'Albertas - remarkable garden (8km)
- Jardin d'Eguilles - remarkable garden (9km)
- Montagne Sainte-Victoire - grand site of france (16km)
- Jardin du château de Val Joanis - remarkable garden (19km)
- Zoo de La Barben - zoo or wildlife park (23km)
- Ansouis - most beautiful village (24km)
- Abbaye de Silvacane (La Roque-d'Antheron) - religious monument (24km)
- Chateau d'If - national monument (26km)
- Marseille - town of art and history (26km)
- Parc du 26e Centenaire - remarkable garden (27km)
Market days in Aix-en-Provence: Regular market(s) are held in Aix-en-Provence each every day except Sunday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Aix-en-Provence (Francais)