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A bucolic getaway in the former capital of Provence

Aix-en-Provence in short

The city of Zola and Cézanne, at the foot of the Mont Sainte-Victoire that so inspired the painter, claims to be the image of "Provence par excellence". And there's no denying that, between the colourful markets in the old centre, the beautiful 18th-century hotels and the shady promenade of the Cours Mirabeau, the university and legal capital is also a Provencal city where life is good.

Let's start our visit by strolling through the pedestrianised streets of the historic centre. As the water gurgles, you soon realise that water is at the heart of Aix-en-Provence's history. It was thanks to the hot and cold springs that water the area that the Romans were able to develop what was once called Aquae Sextiae, meaning "the waters of Sextius".

Today, the town boasts dozens of fountains, each with its own history. Take a stroll through the streets to discover the Fountain of the Four Dauphins, the Fountain of the Fontêtes, the Fountain of the Three Ormeaux... Completed in 1860, the Fountain of the Rotonde is one of Aix-en-Provence's most emblematic monuments, not least because of its impressive dimensions.

The Rotonde fountain in Aix-en-Provence.

- © Suchan / Shutterstock

You can also walk along the Cours Mirabeau, a wide avenue lined with trees and home to three other fountains. This is one of the most lively and popular areas of the city. It was originally a promenade for the aristocracy, built specially to accommodate carriages. The most prominent families of the nobility built sumptuous residences with richly decorated facades along this course.

A stone's throw away is the Musée Granet, housed in the former Palais de Malte. Here you can admire collections of works of art from the 14th to the 20th centuries, including paintings by Paul Cézanne and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. With over 140 buildings listed as historic monuments, Aix-en-Provence is a veritable open-air museum. The very pleasant climate makes for a relaxing visit. The Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur, for example, is a unique monument combining Romanesque and Gothic styles.

Cours Mirabeau, Aix-en-Provence.

- © Sterling Images / Shutterstock

Aix-en-Provence is all about southern accents, sunshine and... markets, of course! There's almost one every day in Aix, so you're spoilt for choice! On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, pick up your fruit and vegetables in the Place Richelme and go behind the post office to buy some beautiful flowers. Sample the excellent strawberries and local fruit and enjoy a drink on one of the nearby terraces in the sunshine.

As well as a food market, you can bargain at the nearby flea market. These markets offer a wealth of colours, sounds and smells to discover. The warm atmosphere will transport you to a sunny Provence where joie de vivre reigns.

One of Aix-en-Provence's many markets.

- © ArtCranberry / Shutterstock

You can also take a walk on the Sainte Victoire, a hill whose summit overlooks the town of Aix to the sound of cicadas... A symbol of Provence, it is a popular place for walking and climbing. From up there, the view of the villages and countryside of Provence is breathtaking! It was also a favourite motif for the paintings of Paul Cézanne, whose life left an indelible mark on Aix-en-Provence: you can even visit his studio and his various living quarters dotted around the town.

A little further afield, between the village of Vauvenargues and Mount Sainte Victoire, you can also visit the château acquired by Picasso in 1958, where he painted some of his works and where he was buried on his death.

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The must-sees

All the must-sees

How to get there?

Aix-en-Provence is easily reached by car via the A8 and A51 motorways, which are connected to the A7, A6, A52, A50 and A54 motorways. The city also has a TGV station, accessible in three hours by train from Paris, a 15-minute drive from the city centre. Marseille Provence airport is less than 30 minutes from Aix-en-Provence.


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Aix-en-Provence, a Provencal jewel of art and gentle living, where history, culture and nature are harmoniously intertwined
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Where to stay?

Aix-en-Provence may not be a very big city, but it attracts a lot of tourists throughout the year, so it has a large number of hotels, of all standards. You'll also have no trouble finding flats, bed & breakfasts and even unusual accommodation.

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Practical information


The best way to discover Aix-en-Provence is by strolling through the narrow streets of the historic centre, browsing the market stalls or enjoying a coffee on a terrace. That's how it is in the south: you take your time. Of course, there are still a few monuments and museums not to be missed, so we suggest you buy the Aix-en-Provence City Pass. It costs €25 for 24 hours, €34 for 48 hours and €43 for 72 hours, and gives you free access to 14 museums and must-see tourist sites, as well as guided tours, a ride on the little tourist train and even a treasure hunt around the city. It also gives you discounts in certain restaurants and shops, and reduced rates for certain visits. Finally, it gives you unlimited use of public transport. You can get it from the Aix-en-Provence Tourist Office or directly online!

Best period

Aix-en-Provence is undoubtedly one of the sunniest cities in France, with 300 days of sunshine a year, so it can be visited all year round, making it an ideal place to spend a winter weekend in sunny Provence. Mind you, the Mistral does not only blow in Marseille! Spring and autumn are the most pleasant seasons, with mild temperatures and the possibility of strolling through the city centre or hiking to the summit of Sainte-Victoire without feeling too cold... or too hot. In summer, the mercury can rise very quickly, making every outing an ordeal.


Aix-en-Provence is a rather middle-class town with no particular safety problems. As everywhere else, you should avoid showing off your valuables and be careful, but everything should be fine.

What to eat

A symphony of colours, scents and flavours, Provençal cuisine alone is worth the trip. Colourful vegetables, olives and olive oil, condiments and herbs, anchovies are always among the dominant notes. Meat and charcuterie specialities, and of course fish, have also become essential elements of the Provençal art of living. And when it comes to sweets, there's no shortage of honeys and jams, not to mention the famous calissons d'Aix! As for pastis and local wines, they should, of course, be drunk in moderation...

What to bring back?

As a souvenir, think Provençal fabrics, made according to traditions dating back to the 17th century. Shawls, scarves and fashion accessories from the region are now sold all over the world. A small sachet of lavender can also be a good idea, as it will perfume your home for several months. For gifts, consider Marseille soaps or a bottle of pastis. Of course, don't forget to bring back a box (or several) of calissons!

What to see around Aix-en-Provence?

The Aix-en-Provence region is full of nice places to discover. You could spend a day in Marseille, for example, or head to the Côte Bleue to enjoy the creeks and beaches. You can also take advantage of your stay in the region to head deep into Provence, the land of olive trees and lavender, to discover picturesque little villages to the sound of the cicadas. Aix-en-Provence is also quite close to the Luberon Regional Nature Park. Nor are you far fromAvignon or the Côte d'Azur, with Cassis, Toulon, Nice and Cannes.

lightbulb_outline Editor's tip

The streets and alleys of Aix-en-Provence are narrow, winding and often one-way, or even closed to traffic, so avoid driving into the city centre as much as possible. Generally speaking, everything can be done on foot, and buses are available to take you further away from the historic centre.

Useful links
Aix-en-Provence Tourist Office
Aix-en-Provence Town Hall website

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