City Breaks in Aix en Provence
The home of Cézanne and full to the brim with narrow streets, leafy boulevards and historical 17th- and 18th-century mansions, Aix-en-Provence is one of southern France’s most prosperous and culturally rich cities to visit. Visitors from all over the world enjoy city breaks in Aix-en-Provence, with its heady mix of chic boutique shops, exclusive restaurants and artistic attractions.
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Aix-en-Provence has quite a few famous sons and daughters: the novelist Émile Zola spent his childhood here and the playwright Alfred Capus was born here. The most famous of Aix-en-Provence’s residents is Paul Cézanne, the celebrated artist who lived and worked here. One of the best ways to experience the artist’s life is to follow his footsteps on the Circuit de Cézanne. This trail will take you through:
- the Bastide du Jas de Bouffan, where the artist started painting as a young man
- the Bibémus quarries where he painted his iconic Montagne Ste-Victoire painting
- Atelier Cézanne, the artist’s studio – kept in the same condition as when the artist used it.
To see artworks by Cézanne alongside work by Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet, the Musée Granet is an excellent place to spend a few hours.
Fountains and courtyards
Many travellers make their way to Aix-en-Provence to marvel at the city’s tree-lined boulevards and magnificent fountains. This grand elegance is typified in Cours Mirabeau, an impressive avenue that features cosy cafés, market stalls and historical buildings on both sides of the double row of plane trees. Dating from the 1640s and named after the revolutionary Comte de Mirabeau, this avenue is one of the better-known tourist spots in the city, and with good reason. Les Deux Garçons café on the avenue was the haunt of artists and writers such as Cézanne and Zola, and there is plenty of contemporary art on show at the Galerie d’Art du Conseil Général des Bouches du Rhône. One of the most famous sights on Cours Mirabeau is La Rotonde, a large fountain in a roundabout at one end of the street.
Roman and medieval history
The history of Aix-en-Provence can be traced back to the Roman period, when the Roman consul Sextius Calvinus founded the city in 123BC. One of the most impressive historical buildings in the city is Aix Cathedral, built between the 12th and 16th centuries on the site of a 1st-century Roman Forum. Featuring a spectacular range of architectural styles, the cathedral has sections that date back from the 5th century, as well as a collection of 15th- and 16th –century tapestries.
Aix-en-Provence is the perfect place to indulge in some authentic Provençal dishes. This is a wide variety of restaurants along the Cours Mirabeau, from traditional brassieres to modern burger bars.