Aix en Provence

Aix en Provence is Marseille's better-behaved, slightly younger brother. Founded in 123 BC by the Romans, today Aix (pronounced "X") is a lively university town with elegant, aristocratic old quarters, squares lined with cafes and cooled by fountains and a very vibrant arts scene.

"Its good taste comes so naturally that not even the students can disturb it," observed the travel writer Marcel Renébon. "It was the last city in France to give up its sedan chairs."

Our gallery previews some of Aix's exquisite pleasures. Scroll down the page to read more about them. Click here to read our full coverage of Marseille-Provence 2013 European Capital of Culture, at which Aix is a major player.

And, if you would like a phone app guide, Edible Heritage offers a unique audio walking tour of historical Aix, plus tips on the best places to eat and drink in the city and little-known facts about local customs and tasty traditional specialities of Provence. Available here for iPhones and here for Androids.

booking.com logoClick here to book a hotel in Aix en Provence

The Lenfant Pavillion
The gates of the town hall
The cloisters of Saint Sauveur Cathedral
Saint Jean de Malte church viewed along the rue Cardinale
A carved wooden pediment
Cours Mirabeau
The legendary Les Deux Garçons brasserie
The statue of King René on the Cours Mirabeau
The Jas de Bouffan, where Paul Cézanne painted for 40 years
The Bibémus Quarries
Paul Cézanne's studio at Lauves
The Mont Sainte Victoire
A street scene with fountain, café and market stall
La Rotonde
The Lenfant Pavillion

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Picture credits: Jean-Claude Carbone for the Aix Tourist Office, except nos. 6, 7 and 13 (Wikimedia Commons).



How To Get Around Aix: Buses, Cars, Petits Trains, Bikes, Diablines Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - Practical Information

Diabline, Aix en ProvenceAix en Provence is a compact city and many of the major sights around the Cours Mirabeau, the Mazarin Quarter and the Old Town can easily be visited on foot. But, if you want to rest your feet, or to venture further afield, there's a variety of alternatives.

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Cézanne's Studio at Les Lauves Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - Paul Cézanne

Cupid by Francois Dusqueno in Cezanne's studio at Les LauvesThe studio where Cézanne worked right until the end of his life, the Atelier des Lauves is steeped in the artist's personality. It displays his painting materials and personal belongings for all the world as though he had just popped out for a breath of fresh air.

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The Bibémus Quarries Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - Paul Cézanne

The Bibemus QuarriesHidden in a pine forest high on a sandstone plateau, the brooding Bibémus Quarries are a majestic location in their own right - and doubly so when you realise how Paul Cézanne mined them for inspiration at the zenith of his career.

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Gallery: The Markets of Aix en Provence Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - What To See

Calissons d'Aix on provencal tableclothOn most weekdays, the Old Town of Aix en Provence turns into one giant extended market, allowing you to browse the delicious produce of the region within an exquisite historical setting.

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Useful Contacts in Aix en Provence Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - Practical Information

French-style telephoneA lively university town with a substantial expatriate community, Aix en Provence has a good range of resources for English-speakers. Here's a checklist, along with contacts for the nearest embassies, consulates, doctors, lawyers and emergency phone numbers.

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Gallery: The Fountains of Aix en Provence Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - What To See

Fontaine d'Albertas, Aix en ProvenceAix en Provence is often called the City of a Thousand Fountains - and they come in all shapes and sizes. Here is a small sample for you to enjoy.

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In the Footsteps of Paul Cézanne Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - Paul Cézanne

TPavement stud on the Paul Cezanne walk in Aix en Provencehe three main Paul Cézanne sights in Aix en Provence - the Jas de Bouffan, the Bibémus Quarries and the studio at Les Lauves - are all slightly out of the city centre. But in a couple of hours you can connect with Cézanne's spirit on a leisurely self-guided walk through the heart of Aix and past many of his haunts.

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The Léonard Parli Calisson Factory Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - What To See

Box of Leonard Parli calissonsLéonard Parli was a candied fruit confectioner who, like many of his fellow-countrymen, emigrated from his native Switzerland in the19th century to escape famine back home. He ended up in Aix and, in 1874, set up a company to make the city's most famous speciality, the calisson.

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Where to Stay in Aix en Provence Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - Practical Information

Hotel Le Pigonnet, Aix en ProvenceHere is our guide to the best places to stay in Aix en Provence, an elegant, upscale city where accommodation tends to be pricey. We've toured several of the loveliest luxury spots but found some fantastic budget bargains too.

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The Memorial Site of the Camp des Milles Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - What To See

The Camp des Milles and train wagonBetween 1939 and 1942, Les Milles was an internment camp for political dissidents, artists and intellectuals and, finally, Jews about to be deported to Auschwitz. It has now been restored as a Holocaust memorial centre and reopened to the public in 2012.

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Family-Friendly Aix en Provence Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - What To See

Children's workshop at the Vasarely Foundation Aix en ProvenceAix en Provence is often seen as a sophisticated, traditional, rather stuffy city, whose pleasures - wine, art, history, culture - are very adult ones. But there are plenty of fun options for children concealed in its corners, if you know where to look.

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Rail Travel To and From Aix En Provence Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - Practical Information

Train arriving at Aix en Provence TGV stationThere are two train stations in Aix en Provence, the TGV station in the countryside 15 km south-west of the city and the regional (TER) station in the centre. This is a guide to both of them. Click here for a full guide to Aix's two rail stations.


 
The Pavillon Noir and Ballet Preljocaj Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - What To See

The Pavillon Noir, Aix en Provence by nightWe take a backstage tour of the dramatic Pavillon Noir, home of Angelin Preljocaj's world-renowned dance company, and survey the other events on offer there. Our full guide to the Pavillon Noir and the Ballet Preljocaj in Aix en Provence.

 
Cours Mirabeau Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - What To See

The Cours Mirabeau, Aix en ProvenceThe Cours Mirabeau is one of France's great boulevards. The first thing you're likely to see when you arrive in the city, it cuts a very classy dash of Parisian Left Bank chic and intellectual sophistication under the sun of Provence.

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Aix en Provence: The Climate Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - Practical Information

Sundial, Place des Precheurs, Aix en ProvenceIt's no accident that Aix en Provence is full of sundials (pictured: 1825 sundial on the place des Prêcheurs). The city has over 300 days of sunshine a year, and in July temperatures often reach 30 degrees Celsius or 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

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The Jas de Bouffan Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - Paul Cézanne

The front approach to the Jas de BouffanThe Jas de Bouffan is an intensely atmospheric mansion where Paul Cézanne worked, on and off, for 40 years and produced some of his greatest work.

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The Puyricard Chocolaterie Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - What To See

Gold-flecked Puyricard chocolatesIn the countryside just outside Aix en Provence, Puyricard, a luxury chocolate factory offers tours, courses and, of course, chocolates for sale. It also has an extraordinary story behind it.

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The Old Town Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - What To See

The Place de l'Hotel de Ville, Aix en ProvenceAix's Old Town is perfectly poised to seduce the visitor to Provence: a warren of winding streets, craft shops, upscale boutiques, restaurants, elegant squares, refreshing fountains, markets - and all steeped in centuries, if not millenia, of history.

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The Mazarin Quarter Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - What To See

Hotel de Caumont, Aix en ProvenceThe Mazarin Quarter is Aix's answer to the Marais in Paris. Like it, this ultra-elegant residential district was built on marshland just outside what was then the city walls and swiftly became the most desirable address in town.

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The Musée Granet Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - What To See

The Musee Granet, Aix en ProvenceOnce a sleepy provincial gallery, the Granet Museum has, thanks to several important loans and bequests, built up a fine collection of modern art over the last decade and now stages several major exhibitions a year.

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The Museums of Aix en Provence Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - What To See

The Fondation Vasarely, Aix en ProvenceAix en Provence's select handful of museums ranges from a foundation dedicated to Victor Vasarely, the father of Op Art, to a secret 17th century love-nest, a major museum of natural history, and the city's flagship art collection, the Musée Granet.

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Shopping in Aix en Provence Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - Practical Information

Leonard Parli calissons AixIt's a great pleasure to go shopping in Aix en Provence with its wide range of street markets and quality stores, all clustered within easy strolling distance in the elegant city centre.

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The Jardins d'Albertas Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - What To See

Sphinx, Jardins d'AlbertasIt is a blistering summer's day and you just have to get out of the city. A short drive from the centre of Aix, the Jardins d'Albertas are the answer.

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Aix en Provence: The Best Restaurants Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - Practical Information

The Forum des Cardeurs Aix en Provence

Finding great - and great-value - restaurants is surprisingly difficult in Aix, despite its wealth, size and importance as a tourist destination, although the city does offer some delightful hidden gems.

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The Festival d'Aix Print E-mail
Aix en Provence - What To See

Logo for the Festival d'AixOne of the cultural highlights of the year in Provence, the Festival of Lyric Art attracts leading international figures and swarms of audiences for its open-air performances in Aix's balmy midsummer nights. Our full guide to the Festival international d'art lyrique d'Aix en Provence.

 

 


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