Aix En Provence is a must-see during a trip to Provence: its narrow streets, hidden squares, artisan boutiques and the scent of flowers and lavender make this charming retro city the emblem of a wonderful region kissed by the sun and caressed by a light breeze. In this article we recommend what to do in Aix En Provence, the birthplace of the painter Cézanne.
1. Visit the Old Town
A visit to Aix En Provence must begin with a visit to the Old Town characterized by small squares, fountains, outdoor cafes, artists’ ateliers, craft stores and special views to photograph.
Today the Old Town of Aix En Provence is lived and frequented mainly by the many university students who make life here cheerful and eventful.
Every morning in Place Richelme there is a characteristic fruit and vegetable market, while only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, in Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, you can find the fragrant and colorful flower market.
Walking through the narrow streets of the historic center you will come across the Hotel de la Ville with the Clock Tower and the Saint-Sauveur Cathedral: these are two of the must-see stops during a visit to Aix En Provence.
Also not to be missed is Place d’Albertas, overlooked by elegant 18th century baroque and rococo palaces.
2. Participate in a Food Tour
One of the things to do in the Provencal city is to participate in a Food Tour: in this way, you will have the opportunity to discover its most authentic and daily side.
Our Aix En Provence food tour will allow you to discover the city and admire its historical center while, together with a local guide, you will visit the best restaurants (the ones preferred by the locals) and taste some of the traditional delicacies.
You will taste the olive oil, tapenade, cold cuts and cheeses of the area and try the famous calisson, delicious almond paste cookies in the diamond shape.
A unique opportunity to live a different experience from the usual sightseeing tours during which you will discover a particular aspect of the city and, of course, meet new friends!
3. Visit Cezanne’s Atelier
A stay in Aix En Provence is not complete without a visit to the atelier of the famous painter Cezanne.
The studio is located outside the city walls, on Lauves Hill. It was here that the painter took refuge after his stay in Paris, and he decided to devote himself to his studio and art.
The studio is located in a corner away from everything, where peace and quiet reign supreme.
Cezanne needed space and time for his studies of geometry and form. He needed everything he needed to be near and in the right place. He needed peace and quiet.
Time, inside the laboratory, seems to have stopped and everything seems to be still there, where Cezanne left it, intent on painting The Bathers.
The Atelier is not far from the center, it is located about 500 meters from the Cathedral, but you can also reach it with the bus n°1 that leaves from La Rotonde. The bus stop is “Paul Cézanne”.
4. Walking along Cours Mirabeau
Near La Rotonde, a large fountain dating back to 1860 which is located in the lower part of the city, there is Cours Mirabeau.
The long avenue is one of the focal points of the city and it is surrounded by large trees that make a walk pleasant even under the summer sun.
At the sides of Cours Mirabeau you can notice the imposing stately buildings built by the bourgeois families who, once enriched, wanted here their new residences to show their new social position. One of the most beautiful buildings is Hotel Maurel-de-Pontevés: the main door is surmounted by a balcony supported by two majestic atlases.
Take a leisurely stroll and maybe stop for a coffee in one of the many bars along the avenue to enjoy the life that flows in the city.
Cours Mirabeau is also characterized by numerous fountains: the Fountain of the Nine Cannons, the hot water fountain (from which thermal water gushes out) and a fountain depicting King Renato of Anjou.
5. Discover the Mazzarin Quarter
Finally, head towards the Mazzarin Quarter, on the right side of Cours Mirabeau.
The area was designed by Michael Mazarin, Archbishop of Aix and brother of Cardinal Mazarin, and houses many beautiful palaces built between the 17th and 18th centuries. Among the most beautiful buildings are the Hotel de Forbin and the Hotel de Marignane.
As you will notice, this area of Aix En Provence is completely different from the Old Town: it was designed following rational and geometric styles that give a sense of order and perfection.
One of the most charming corners of the neighborhood is the one surrounding the Fountain of the Four Dolphins.
We hope that these tips on what to do in Aix En Provence will help you organize your vacation in the beautiful Provencal city.