With its facades of palaces that exude history and tell the power, the cobbled squares, the winding streets, full of unexpected views, and the hot SpringsAix-en-Provence simply embodies the model of French city full of charm. And that she knows how to please. Known as the city of a thousand fountains prides itself on having a unique backdrop, split between mountains and pleasant countryside. And what’s more, you can also eat very well here. So if one were to wonder what to do and see at Aix-en-Provence may be spoiled for choice. And the pleasure of always having something beautiful to discover.
What to do and see in Aix-en-Provence: the city of waters
Thanks to its compact center this is in fact a city that is easy to visit on foot. The starting point for driving on what to do and see in Aix-en-Provence it is certainly the main street, Cours Mirabeaua street lined with cafes, restaurants and elegant buildings and shaded by rows of centuries-old plane trees. Sitting for a while on the terrace of a club and watching life go by in front of the windows is already a pleasant way to take the time in the city. If you want to continue the path, you cannot overlook those that justify the nickname of the city: the fountains. Some of the most famous are, among other things, just a stone’s throw away, always along Cours Mirabeau. There is one that dates back to the 19th century which depicting kings Renato d’Angiò portrayed with a bunch of grapes in his hand (the legend says that it would have been the sovereign himself to bring the vine in Provence in the fifteenth century) then what is called “the mossy”Built in 1734 and which is the point where a source already known to Romani, said Les Baignerswith water at 18 degrees, and the so-called Rounderected in 1860, which is noted for the cyclopean size of the statues depicting the Justice, Agriculture and the Arts. Symbolically, the first turns towards the interior of the city, the second towards Marseille and the third verse Avignon. But the most spectacular is there Fontaine des Quatre Dauphinsbuilt in 1667 and surrounded by some of the most beautiful buildings including the Boisgelin palace, itself famous for its courtyard and façade covered with friezes.
What to do and see in Aix-en-Provence: from the Romans to Churchill
If in the list of what to do and see a Aix-en-Provence there are fountains is because the city has always been considered a place to exploit the beneficial effects of underground waters. And this since the time of the Romans even if more recently among the illustrious visitors we can remember the names, among others of Winston Churchill And Pablo Picasso. Today, the main attraction for spa lovers is Thermes Sestioin the heart of the historic center, a modern complex offering a wide choice of water-based therapies.
But not only water: also colors, canvases and brushes. If the name of this city is famous and long is the list of what to do and see in Aix-en-Provence, it is due to theart. In particular to that of Paul Cézanne, the 19th century post-impressionist painter who was born here and drew profound inspiration from his land. Throughout his life he brought with him the inspiration that came to him from the views of the nearby mountains Sainte-Victoire and from the splendid Provencal countryside. That is why one of the points of reference for tourists arriving here is still the his studio on the northern outskirts of the city. The city has also been the inspiration for many writers including Stendhal And Zola and today it still hosts several festivals that take place in different periods: the two most famous are the Musique dans la Rue and the Festival of Aix-en-Provence.
What to do and see in Aix-en-Provence: history and flavors
Aix was founded in 122 BC by Romans before being occupied by Visigoths to which the Franks ei Saraceni. In the Middle Ages it became the capital of Provence transforming itself into a very important cultural center under the Angevins (and this explains the role attributed to King Renato D’Angiò). Finally it entered the French territory at the end of the 1400s and up to Revolution, Aix-en-Provence remained the judicial and administrative seat of the region. Now it is a lively city full of light that attracts tourists who, besides the beauties of architecture, love a pleasant lifestyle. Tourists flock to the large market every Saturday Avenue du Cap-Pinede and smaller ones on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The city center, as we have said, is absolutely on a human scale and in every neighborhood there is a market: one of those they like the most is the flower market from Place de Hotel de Ville; another specialized in fruit and vegetables invades the street with its own stalls the area near the Marche des Capucins while at the weekend there is another appointment much loved by antiques lovers. Around the center then you cannot fail to notice the shops of cheeses and food while fashion boutiques are located on the pedestrian street Rue St-Ferreol. To choose the area where to go for dinner the best choice falls on the premises around Place des Cardeurs And Cours Mirabeau. Between these Le Clos de la Violette is known for its excellent Provencal cuisine and Le Passage serves contemporary Mediterranean cuisine in an old 19th century candy factory.
what to do and see in Aix-en-Provence: the center
One of the most pleasant aspects of the city, one of the tips that cannot be missing in the guide on what to do and see in Aix-en-Provence is to take some time to wander through the streets and squares of the city. old City. In the center of Vieil Aix is located there Place de l’Hôtel de Ville from where it is worth starting to admire the 17th century town hall with its beautiful Italian-style facade and richly carved wooden doors. Another monument on the square is the ancient one Tour de l’Horlogethe old city bell tower with an astronomical clock from 1661. Obviously like most of the squares in Aix-en-Provence, the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville it was built around one of the monumental fountains. The square is also the place where the colorful flower market is held on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday mornings. A walking tour can continue along the quiet cobblestone streets of the old town to Place d’Albertas. This square which dates back to the 18th century has its own special charm: surrounded by elegant Baroque and Rococo buildings, the square was completed in 1745 by the will of the Marquis d’Albertas who wanted it designed in the style of the royal squares a Paris. We have said that it is rich: on the other hand, the fountain in the center built only over a century later is more modest. On the south side of the square is the Halle aux Grainsa former grain market now converted into a post office, with a magnificent pediment and a series of sculptures
In our list dedicated to what to do and see in Aix-en-Provence we certainly include one of the liveliest streets in the city, the Cours Mirabeaua beautiful avenue shaded by giant plane trees and flanked by cafes, restaurants And boutique. This elegant and lively street is the ideal place for a stroll, to enjoy an alfresco lunch or a stop at a café with outdoor seating. It is no coincidence that many inhabitants of the city meet here after work to bask in the late afternoon sun and relax with an aperitif. One of the most famous addresses is that of Brasserie Les Deux Garçons, located at number 53 of Cours Mirabeau. Since 1792, this brasserie – one of the French classicssuch as those found also in Paris – offers classic cuisine in a sophisticated atmosphere, so much so that among famous customers he boasts of having served Cézanne, Picasso, la Piaf and Camus. Born in 1651 as an avenue for carriages, the Cours Mirabeau connects the historic center with the Mazarin district and the elegant 17th and 18th century palaces that overlook the boulevard give this street a particular beauty. Some of the more impressive buildings include the Hôtel de Forbin (at number 20), built in 1656 and the Hotel de Maurel de Ponteves (at number 38), built between 1647 and 1650.
What to do and see in Aix-en-Provence: the Mazarin district
One of the most evocative areas of the historic center of Aix-en-Provence is the Mazarin district. The neighborhood was built between 1646 and 1653 at the suggestion of Michel Mazzarino, the archbishop of Aix and brother of the more famous cardinal. The construction of this district required the demolition of part of the city walls to create what is now the Cours Mirabeau as the boundary of the district follows the line of the old walls along the boulevard Carnot and the boulevard du Roi René and follows a rectangular shape that is typical of 17th century town planning projects. The center of the district is formed by the Place des Quatre Dauphins with the famous fountain.
North of the center is the cathedral of Saint-Sauveura building built in a very long time that went from the 12th to the 17th century although the official dedication dates back to 1534. The entrance Gothic original is one of the most important parts due to the presence of beautiful walnut doors carved in 1500: these portals, of great value, are now protected by special covers and can be admired on request. Entering through the more recent gate, visitors are enchanted by the serene beauty of the Early Christian Baptistery, dating back to the 6th century, and with a rounded rounded shape with classic columns. On the right of the main nave the famous triptych painted by Nicolas Froment from 1435 to 1484. Behind the high altar is the Chapelle de Saint-Miterdedicated to the patron saint of the city while the Romanesque cloisteradjacent to the south wall of the Duomo, it is worth a visit for a break immersed in an atmosphere of spiritual tranquility.
In the list of what to do and see in Aix-en-Provence there is certainly a visit to the Granet Museum: it is a museum housed in the former Palace of Malta, just off Rue d’Italie, near the Cours Mirabeau, and is considered one of the finest museums of its kind in France. The museum houses an extensive collection of over 300 works from the 14th to 20th centuries, including works by Rembrandt, Ingres, Cézanne. There are also impressionist works painted by Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Degasand Redon, as well as on post impressionists and contemporary artists such as Picasso, Braque and Dubuffet. In addition, the Granet Museum hosts important international exhibitions. Of a completely different kind is the Musée des Tapisseries housed in the apartments of the former Archbishop’s Palace which exhibits a rich collection of 17th and 18th century tapestries, as well as contemporary textile art. Finally, a must for art lovers is a visit to the atelier of Paul Cézanne which allows you to get a taste of his world and see where his creativity has taken shape.
The artist has worked in this studio throughout the year: on sunny days he painted the landscapes outdoors while on rainy days, inside his atelier, he concentrated on painting his famous still lifes: bottles, pottery, vases, flowers and fruits. Visitors can also follow in Cézanne’s footsteps around the city starting with the house where the artist was born. The city of Aix-en-Provence he indicated the places linked to Cézanne’s life by placing metal studs (these are large nails in the shape of a “C”), which allows visitors to see the places once frequented by Cézanne. Inside Cézanne’s atelier there is a brochure that lists the itinerary to follow.