Set in Southern France, Aix-en-Provence is a charming and historic city that entices travelers with an array of memorable experiences. This pedestrian-friendly place is known for its scenic outdoor areas from the many plazas and thoroughfares such Le Cours Mirabeau and restaurants offering alfresco dining to attractions that will appeal to art lovers such as the Atelier Cézanne, the studio of Paul Cézanne, the post-Impressionist painter who was born and grew up in the area, and used the beautiful destination as his inspiration, often setting up his easel and working from Painters Field with picturesque views of Sainte-Victoire Mountain. Other highlights that travelers may find interesting include the Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur d'Aix-en-Provence, the Caumont Centre d’Art and the many markets selling fresh produce to furniture, books and other great finds. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
© Musée Granet
Since first opening its doors in 1838 adjacent to the Church of Saint-Jean-de-Malte in the Mazarin quarter, the Musée Granet has become a popular destination for art lovers with its 12,000 works and masterpieces. Named after one of its most important benefactors, the painter François-Marius Granet, the cultural organization features a breathtaking collection of archaeology, sculpture, and French, Italian and Northern European paintings from the 14th century to the 20th century. Among the highlights are Portrait of a Young Boy by Jacques-Louis David and 10 paintings by Paul Cézanne, the father of modern art and a native of Provence. Guided tours such as the Middle Ages to the 18th Century and From Picasso to Dubuffet are available in French and English on select days of the week.
Place Saint-Jean de Malte, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France, Phone: +33-4-42-52-88-32
2.Le Cours Mirabeau
Linking the Mazarin district to the south with the old market town to the north, Le Cours Mirabeau is a popular pedestrian thoroughfare in Aix-en-Provence. Developed during the 17th century at the request of Archbishop Mazarin on behalf of homeowners who wanted a path for walking and their carriages, the promenade is a serene place with plane trees and beautiful buildings lining both sides, and ornate fountains such as the exceptional Rotonde, also known as the “Great Fountain,” featuring three statues symbolizing law, agriculture and art, and King René's fountain, designed by Pierre-Henri Revoil in 1819. Other notable spots on the route include Les Deux Garçons Café, a local institution housed at No 53. Bis, the Hôtel de Gantès, and Passage Agard (No. 55), the former childhood home of Paul Cézanne.
13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
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3.Cathedrale Saint-Sauveur d'Aix-en-Provence
Set on the site of a Roman forum dating back to the first century, the Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur d'Aix-en-Provence, or Aix Cathedral, is both a house of worship and a national landmark. Built over different centuries, the building features Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque elements, along with numerous artworks and artifacts. There are several points that are of great interest to visitors including the Baptistery Rotunda, which is actually 700 years older than the cathedral itself, The Three Naves, The Bell Tower, The Chancel Organ, and The Triptych of the Burning Bush, a 15th century work by Nicholas Froment, that captures a scene from the Book of Exodus in the Bible.
34 Place des Martyrs-de-la-Résistance, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France, Phone: +33-4-42-23-45-65
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Set on Lauves hill inside a sun-lit Provencal country house, Atelier Cézanne is the intact working studio of Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne. This special place is where the artist spent his last four years, from 1902 to 1906, working every day on masterpieces that now grace some of the most famous museums in the world including Grandes Baigneuses, known to most as The Bathers, among others. The simple and tranquil space houses the still life models, working tools and furniture that Cézanne used back then, and some people say that they can very much feel his presence here.
9 Avenue Paul Cézanne, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France, Phone: +33-4-42-21-06-53
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5.Musee Estienne de Saint-Jean
© Musée Estienne de Saint-Jean
Housed in a 17th-century mansion, the Musée Estienne de Saint-Jean, more commonly referred to as the Museum of the Old Aix, was established in 1932 by Marie d’Estienne de Saint-Jean to be the town’s history museum. Visitors will have better insight into the history and traditions of Aix-en-Provence after viewing its comprehensive collection of art and artifacts spanning from furniture to traditional figurines, puppets and so much more. Exquisite highlights include the screen from the Corpus Christi procession and the 17th-century work of Italian art intended for the baptistery of Saint Peter’s in Rome by G.B. Gaulli.
17 Rue Gaston de Saporta, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France, Phone: +33-4-42-91-89-78
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6.Caumont Centre d’Art
Art, history, architecture, and culture converge brilliantly at the Caumont Centre d’Art, housed in the former Hôtel de Caumont, a striking 18th-century mansion built between a courtyard and garden. Set in the neighborhood of Mazarin, the elegant space has evolved from a private residence to a place to house Resistance soldiers, a dance conservatory, and finally, an art venue curated by Culturespaces. Along with its pristine historical rooms and meticulously manicured grounds, the center also presents a film on Cézanne in its auditorium and hosts two temporary exhibits celebrating the great artists such as the recent Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Foundation: From Manet to Picasso each year. On the lower level, the Cafe Caumont is the ideal location for breakfast and afternoon tea during the day and jazz in the garden during summer nights.
3 Rue Joseph Cabassol, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France, Phone: +33-4-42-20-70-01
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7.Place de l’Hotel de Ville
© LR Photographies/stock.adobe.com
One of the most noted squares in Aix-en-Provence, the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, or Town Hall Square, is known for its different architectural styles and three historical landmarks. Pedestrians walking in the area will notice the Italianate-style Town Hall, which was originally installed in the 14th century and later rebuilt by Pierre Pavillion in the 17th century with the assistance of the sculptors Rambot and Fossé. Close by, the Grain Hall built in 1754 boasts neo-Classical elements and features distinctive details such as the Rhone and Durance Rivers, and different fruits, symbolizing agricultural prosperity in the area. Finally, the Clock Tower, which was built in 1510 symbolizes unity and power. At the center of it all is a lovely fountain featuring a Roman column.
13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
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8.Le Terrain des Peintres
Approximately a 10-minute walk from the Atelier Cézanne, Le Terrain des Peintres, or Field of the Painters offers spectacular views of Sainte-Victoire Mountain. The site is where painter Paul Cézanne found inspiration and spent much of his time in his later years. Today, both locals and visitors enjoy walking the path that leads to a serene esplanade which features reproductions of the post-Impressionist artist’s paintings. For those who want to walk a little further, the archaeological remnants of Oppidum Entremont, the former capital of the Celtic-Ligurian confederation.
49 Avenue Paul Cézanne, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
9.Le Grand Marche
© The Spinning Compass/stock.adobe.com
When it comes to fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, and other original finds, Le Grand Marché, a term for the collective outdoor markets in the city squares, offers many wonderful surprises. For local specialties, the market on Place Richelme doesn’t disappoint with lavender, honey, herbs, colorful produce and more, while those searching for original textiles should try the market on the Cours Mirabeau. Meanwhile, artisans and craftsmen are known to display their wares at the market on Place Forbin, and the year-round Flowers Market offers beautiful blooms at the Town Hall Plaza on the first Sunday of every month.
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© Vasarely Foundation
Described as a “Polychrome City of Happiness,” the Vasarely Foundation captivates visitors with the vibrant display of 44 monumental works by the artist Victor Vasarely. Conceived in 1966 by Vasarely, the geometric-centric building was designed in collaboration with architects John Sonnier and Dominique Ronsseray and opened its doors in 1976. Visitors to this dazzling visual universe will encounter massive hexagonal modules made of different mediums including anodized metal, enamel, ceramic, screen-printed glass and more. Along with the permanent installations, the venue also hosts exhibitions, workshops, concerts, and other events such as the family-friendly Discovery Sundays throughout the year.
1 Avenue Marcel Pagnol, 13090 Aix-en-Provence, France, Phone: +33-4-42-20-01-09
11.Le Poivre D’Ane
© Le Poivre D’Ane
In English, Le Poivre D’Ane means “donkey pepper,” a playful word for a local herb found in Aix-en-Provence. Set along the Forum des Cardeurs on the edge of the Old Town, this restaurant, known for its culinary creativity, combines traditional French techniques with international ingredients and exquisite presentation. Diners can order from the Tasting Menu by Chef Thierry Coulmeau, o if they prefer, items a la carte. While the dishes change from time to time, mostly driven by the season, guests can always expect savory selections such as Tataki de Merlan du Boeuf and Cannelloni di Crabe, which pair well with any of the wines from the South of France such as Coteaux d’Aix or Cassis. Desserts delight with chocolate, cheesecake, and berries all in the mix.
40 Place des Cardeurs, Aix-en-Provence, France, Phone: +33-4-42-21-32-66
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Set on a small street off the Place des Prêcheurs in the historical center of Aix-en-Provence, Le Contrepoint is a casual and cozy brasserie open for lunch, dinner and drinks. The menu is simple with selections such as tasty burgers, duck breast in honey, mussels and their famous potatoes sauteed with thyme, along with charcuterie and fromage plates perfect for sharing. As for the ambiance, the staff makes guests feel welcome and the setting is relaxed and there’s usually great music playing in the background. During the warmer months, there is a small terrace that is open for alfresco dining.
15 Rue Constantin, Aix-en-Provence, France, Phone: +33-9-66-94-13-02
Considered a highly rated modern French restaurant, Mitch delights guests with its creative, contemporary cuisine. Although small in size, the two-level restaurant in the heart of Aix is big on presentation and uses premium ingredients from local produce to certified meats and fresh fish from Brittany. The menu is full of Southern French and European dishes flavored with ingredients from Provence and happy diners say that you can find the best steaks in France here. The restaurant is open for dinner daily starting at 7:30 p.m. and closed on Sunday.
26 Rue des Tanneurs, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France, Phone: +33-4-42-26-63-08
Close to Place des Précheurs and the Chapel of St. Catherine lies L’Alcove, a chic and intimate restaurant featuring the culinary creations of the young, up and coming Chef Baptiste Donat who has trained with Michelin-starred mentors. Artfully prepared dishes feature fresh seasonal ingredients with the goal being to “delight the taste buds and the eyes of everyone.” Diners can expect inventive, flavorful dishes such as Zucchini Flowers with Aubergine Caviar with Peppers Coulis to start and Seabass with Pistou and Raspberry Pie with Pistachio for dessert. The wine list offers a variety of options such as Bandol Tradition 2015 from Castell Reynoard, among others.
19 Rue Constantin, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France, Phone: +33-4-42-96-47-29
© Le Patio
Not too far from the Cours Mirabeau, Le Patio is a family-owned and run restaurant with lots of charm and character. Similar in style to a rustic Italian courtyard, the space is unique and reflects Chef Didier and his wife Sophie Nollet’s aesthetic vision that combines the decorative elements of a house, living room, and restaurant, all of which make it more inviting. The inventive menu features a mix of Mediterranean, French and European dishes such as Artichokes with Barigoule, Duck Foie Gras with Fig Chutney, Ratatouille Confit and Lemon Sorbet with Pineapple Gazpacho, to name a few.
16 Rue Victor Leydet, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France, Phone: +33-4-42-93-02-03
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16.Les Caves Henri IV by Le Formal
In the area of Cours Mirabeau, Les Caves Henri IV by Le Formal is an intimate hideaway nestled in pretty vaulted cellars dating back to 1475. At this notable restaurant, Chef and Owner Jean Luc Le Formal is an inventor of creative cuisine featuring the flavors of Provence and the finest ingredients. The menu boasts a bevy of starters, main courses and desserts, all of which tantalize the taste buds. For instance, the Harmony of Flavors features French Duck Foie Gras marbled with passion fruit with confit of seasonal fruits, followed by Le Canard Duo Duck Breast with Lobster Salpicon, Herring Caviar, and Creamy Citrus, paired with organic vegetables. Other choices include Beef Wellington and Breton Bouillabaisse with Hazelnut Monk Confit, to name a few. Oenophiles will appreciate the extensive wine list, perfect for food pairings.
32 Rue Espariat, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France, Phone: +33-4-42-27-08-31
16 Best Things to Do in Aix-En-Provence, France
- Musee Granet, Photo: Musée Granet
- Le Cours Mirabeau, Photo: elophotos/stock.adobe.com
- Cathedrale Saint-Sauveur d'Aix-en-Provence, Photo: Laurent/stock.adobe.com
- Atelier Cezanne, Photo: weris7554/stock.adobe.com
- Musee Estienne de Saint-Jean, Photo: Musée Estienne de Saint-Jean
- Caumont Centre d’Art, Photo: aerogondo/stock.adobe.com
- Place de l’Hotel de Ville, Photo: LR Photographies/stock.adobe.com
- Le Terrain des Peintres, Photo: enginakyurt/stock.adobe.com
- Le Grand Marche, Photo: The Spinning Compass/stock.adobe.com
- Vasarely Foundation, Photo: Vasarely Foundation
- Le Poivre D’Ane, Photo: Le Poivre D’Ane
- Le Contrepoint, Photo: Gill/stock.adobe.com
- Mitch, Photo: Mitch
- L’Alcove, Photo: L’Alcove
- Le Patio, Photo: Le Patio
- Les Caves Henri IV by Le Formal, Photo: kichigin19/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: neirfy/stock.adobe.com
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