Aix-en-Provence is a beautiful city in the south of France, known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant cultural scene. With so many things to see and do, it can be hard to know where to start. To help you plan your trip, we’ve put together a list of 10 must-visit attractions in Aix-en-Provence.
- Cours Mirabeau: This iconic street is the heart of Aix-en-Provence and a must-visit for any traveler. Lined with charming cafes, boutiques, and historic buildings, it’s the perfect place to stroll, people-watch, and soak up the city’s vibrant atmosphere.
- Atelier Cézanne: This former studio of the famous artist Paul Cézanne has been preserved as a museum, giving visitors a glimpse into his life and work. The museum features many of Cézanne’s original tools, canvases, and other personal belongings, as well as beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.
- Saint-Sauveur Cathedral: Aix-en-Provence is home to many beautiful churches, but Saint-Sauveur Cathedral is one of the most impressive. Built in the 13th century, the cathedral features stunning Gothic architecture, intricate stone carvings, and beautiful stained glass windows.
- Pavillon de Vendôme: This elegant 17th-century mansion is a hidden gem in the heart of Aix-en-Provence. With its beautiful gardens, intricate stonework, and impressive art collection, it’s a must-visit for art and architecture enthusiasts.
- Les Deux Garçons: This historic cafe is one of the most famous in Aix-en-Provence and has been a favorite meeting spot for locals and visitors for over 200 years. The cafe’s elegant decor, delicious pastries, and famous hot chocolate make it a must-visit for any foodie or coffee lover.
- Musée Granet: This world-class art museum features an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, and other works of art from throughout the ages. With pieces by artists such as Cézanne, Picasso, and Van Gogh, it’s a must-visit for any art lover.
- Quartier Mazarin: This historic neighborhood is known for its beautiful architecture and charming cobblestone streets. With its impressive mansions, hidden gardens, and picturesque fountains, it’s a great place to explore and take in the city’s rich history.
- Hôtel de Ville: This stunning city hall building is a beautiful example of Aix-en-Provence’s historic architecture. With its elegant façade, impressive bell tower, and beautiful courtyard, it’s a must-visit for anyone interested in the city’s rich history.
- Château La Coste: This beautiful winery and art center is located just outside of Aix-en-Provence and is a great place to spend an afternoon. With its beautiful vineyards, modern art installations, and delicious wine tastings, it’s a must-visit for any wine or art enthusiast.
- Calanques de Cassis: This stunning natural park is located just a short drive from Aix-en-Provence and features beautiful rocky cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and hidden coves. It’s a great place to hike, swim, and take in the natural beauty of the region.
1. Cours Mirabeau: Discovering the Heart of Aix-en-Provence
Cours Mirabeau is one of the most famous streets in Aix-en-Provence and is considered the heart of the city. It is a wide boulevard lined with trees and beautiful 17th and 18th-century buildings, cafés, and shops. The street is named after the famous orator and revolutionary, Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau, who was born in Aix-en-Provence.
Cours Mirabeau is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of the city. The street is home to several notable attractions, including the Fontaine de la Rotonde, a large fountain with three statues representing justice, agriculture, and fine arts, and the 17th-century Hôtel de Caumont, which now serves as an art center and museum.
In addition to its landmarks, Cours Mirabeau is also known for its bustling café culture. The street is lined with numerous cafes, bistros, and restaurants where visitors can sit and enjoy a coffee or a meal while watching the world go by.
2. Atelier Cézanne: Exploring the World of the Famous Post-Impressionist Painter
Atelier Cézanne is a museum located in Aix-en-Provence that was once the studio of the famous Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne. Cézanne was born in Aix-en-Provence in 1839 and lived and worked in the city for much of his life. Today, the museum offers visitors a unique opportunity to step inside the artist’s world and see where he created some of his most famous works.
The studio is located on the outskirts of the city, on a hill overlooking Mont Sainte-Victoire, which served as a major inspiration for many of Cézanne’s paintings. The building was originally a simple farmhouse that Cézanne purchased in 1901 and converted into a studio. It was here that he painted some of his most famous works, including many still life compositions and landscapes featuring the Provencal countryside.
The museum is now a popular destination for art lovers and visitors to Aix-en-Provence. It contains a collection of Cézanne’s paintings, sketches, and personal belongings, as well as exhibits about the artist’s life and work. Visitors can see the studio just as it was when Cézanne worked there, with his paintbrushes, canvases, and other tools still in their original positions. The museum also has a beautiful garden that visitors can explore.
3. Saint-Sauveur Cathedral: A Must-Visit Landmark in Aix-en-Provence
Saint-Sauveur Cathedral, also known as Aix Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in the heart of Aix-en-Provence. The cathedral dates back to the 5th century, when it was originally built as a basilica dedicated to Saint Andrew. Over the centuries, it underwent many changes and renovations, with the current Gothic and Baroque style building completed in the 17th century.
The cathedral is known for its stunning architecture and ornate decoration. The front facade features two massive bell towers that rise high into the sky, with intricate carvings and statues of saints adorning the walls. The interior is just as impressive, with a grand nave, stained glass windows, and beautiful chapels.
One of the most notable features of the cathedral is the “Triptych of the Burning Bush,” a 15th-century altarpiece that depicts the biblical story of Moses and the burning bush. It is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance art and is a must-see for visitors to the cathedral.
Saint-Sauveur Cathedral is also home to a magnificent organ, which dates back to the 18th century and is considered one of the most beautiful organs in the world. The organ is used for regular concerts and recitals, which are open to the public.
4. Exploring the Beauty and Culture of Pavillon de Vendôme
The Pavillon de Vendôme is a magnificent 17th-century mansion located in the heart of Aix-en-Provence. It was originally built for Louis de Mercoeur, Duke of Vendôme, as a private residence, but now serves as a museum and cultural center.
The Pavillon de Vendôme is famous for its exquisite architecture and beautiful gardens. The mansion was designed in the Italian Baroque style and features a symmetrical facade, with a central courtyard and two wings that stretch out on either side. The interior of the mansion is just as impressive, with grand salons, beautiful frescoes, and intricate stucco work.
The mansion is surrounded by a beautiful formal garden, which was designed in the classic French style. The garden features manicured lawns, hedges, fountains, and statuary. Visitors can stroll through the garden and enjoy the serene atmosphere, with the sounds of the fountains and the scent of the flowers filling the air.
In addition to its beautiful architecture and gardens, the Pavillon de Vendôme also houses a collection of fine art and decorative objects. The museum showcases works by local artists, as well as pieces from other parts of France and beyond.
Visitors to the Pavillon de Vendôme can also take part in a variety of cultural events, such as concerts, exhibitions, and lectures. The mansion is an important cultural center in Aix-en-Provence, and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in art, history, or architecture.
5. Les Deux Garçons: A Historic Café on the Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence
Les Deux Garçons is a famous cafe located on the Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence. It has been an iconic meeting place for intellectuals, artists, and politicians for over 200 years. The cafe has a rich history, having first opened its doors in 1792. It quickly became a popular spot for the local elite, and over the years, has been visited by many famous figures, such as Paul Cézanne, Emile Zola, Ernest Hemingway, and Pablo Picasso.
The cafe’s interior is decorated in a traditional Belle Epoque style, with marble-topped tables, ornate ceilings, and chandeliers. It is divided into two main areas, a main room and a terrace, which offers views of the bustling Cours Mirabeau.
Les Deux Garçons is not only famous for its history and ambiance, but also for its food and drink. The cafe offers a wide selection of coffees, teas, and pastries, as well as a range of alcoholic beverages. The menu also features traditional Provencal dishes, such as pissaladiere (a type of pizza with onions, anchovies, and olives), and bouillabaisse (a fish stew).
Visiting Les Deux Garçons is a must for anyone exploring Aix-en-Provence. Whether you want to soak up the history and ambiance of the cafe, or simply enjoy a coffee and pastry while people-watching on the Cours Mirabeau, it’s an experience not to be missed.
6. A Guide to Musée Granet
The Musée Granet is a fine arts museum located in Aix-en-Provence, France. The museum is named after its founder, François Marius Granet, a French painter and collector who donated his collection of paintings and objets d’art to the city of Aix-en-Provence in 1838. Since then, the museum has grown to become one of the most important art museums in the south of France.
The Musée Granet is located in the heart of the city, near the famous Cours Mirabeau. The museum is housed in several buildings, including the Palais de Malte, a 17th-century mansion that was once the home of the Order of Malta. The museum’s collections are divided into several sections, including European paintings, modern and contemporary art, and archaeology.
One of the highlights of the museum is its collection of paintings by the French artist Paul Cézanne, who was born in Aix-en-Provence. The museum’s collection includes several of his works, including “The Card Players” and “Mont Sainte-Victoire Seen from the Bibémus Quarry.” Other notable artists represented in the museum’s collection include Pablo Picasso, Nicolas de Staël, and Alberto Giacometti.
The museum also has a collection of ancient and medieval art, including sculptures, ceramics, and coins. Visitors can see a Roman sarcophagus, a 4th-century BC Greek kylix, and a 12th-century sculpture of the Virgin Mary.
In addition to its permanent collections, the Musée Granet also hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Recent exhibitions have included shows on the works of René Seyssaud, Jean Planque, and Antoni Tàpies.
The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am to 6pm. Admission is free for visitors under the age of 18, and there are discounted rates for students, seniors, and groups. Visitors can also purchase a combined ticket that includes admission to the museum and the nearby Granet XXe art center.
7. Discovering the Charm of Quartier Mazarin
Quartier Mazarin is a beautiful and historic district located in the heart of Aix-en-Provence. It is named after Cardinal Mazarin, who was a famous Italian cardinal and statesman in the 17th century. The district was built during the 17th and 18th centuries, and is known for its elegant and well-preserved architecture.
Quartier Mazarin is home to some of the most beautiful buildings in Aix-en-Provence, with its grand mansions and luxurious townhouses built by the city’s wealthy merchants and nobles. The district features narrow streets and alleyways, shaded by tall plane trees that create a beautiful canopy overhead.
One of the most beautiful buildings in Quartier Mazarin is the Hôtel de Caumont. This elegant mansion was built in the 18th century and is now a museum showcasing beautiful exhibitions of art and culture. The mansion is a beautiful example of the district’s architectural style, with its grand facade, stunning interiors, and peaceful gardens.
Visitors can take a stroll around Quartier Mazarin to admire the beautiful architecture and explore the many small boutiques, cafes, and restaurants that line the streets. The district is also home to several beautiful squares, including Place des Quatre-Dauphins and Place de l’Université, both of which feature beautiful fountains and stunning architecture.
8. The History and Beauty of Hôtel de Ville
Hôtel de Ville, or City Hall, is a historic building located in the heart of Aix-en-Provence’s old town. The building was originally constructed in the early 17th century and has undergone a number of renovations over the years. The façade of the building is particularly impressive, featuring a stunning Baroque-style design with intricate details and elegant sculptures.
Today, Hôtel de Ville serves as the administrative center of the city, with various municipal services housed inside. Visitors are welcome to explore the building’s public areas, including the grand entrance hall and the beautiful Salle des Etats, or States Room. This room is used for official functions and events, and is decorated with ornate woodwork, frescoes, and crystal chandeliers.
One of the highlights of a visit to Hôtel de Ville is the opportunity to climb up to the top of the clock tower for panoramic views of Aix-en-Provence. The tower is 42 meters high and offers stunning views of the old town, with its winding streets and red-tiled roofs. The climb to the top is steep and narrow, but the views are well worth the effort.
Throughout the year, Hôtel de Ville hosts a range of cultural events and exhibitions, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists. Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or simply want to enjoy the stunning views of Aix-en-Provence, Hôtel de Ville is definitely worth a visit.
9. Discovering the Art and Wine of Aix-en-Provence at Château La Coste
Château La Coste is a stunning winery and contemporary art center located just outside of Aix-en-Provence, in the heart of the French countryside. The vineyard and its facilities were designed by some of the world’s most renowned architects, including Tadao Ando, Jean Nouvel, and Frank Gehry, making it an architectural masterpiece as well as a wine lover’s paradise.
The vineyard spans over 500 acres and is home to a variety of grape varieties, including Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. Visitors can take guided tours of the vineyard and its facilities, learning about the wine-making process and the history of the estate.
In addition to the vineyard, Château La Coste is home to an impressive collection of contemporary art. Art lovers will delight in the works of art scattered throughout the estate, including installations, sculptures, and paintings. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the art collection, exploring the works at their own pace.
There are also several restaurants and cafes on the property, making it a perfect spot for a relaxing lunch or dinner. The Michelin-starred restaurant at Château La Coste is a must-visit for foodies, serving up delicious dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
10. Discovering the Natural Beauty of Cassis: Exploring the Calanques
The Calanques de Cassis are a series of stunning, narrow inlets located along the Mediterranean coastline just outside of Aix-en-Provence. These inlets are known for their crystal-clear turquoise waters and towering limestone cliffs, which make for a truly breathtaking natural landscape.
Visitors can explore the Calanques de Cassis on foot, hiking along the rugged coastal trails that connect each of the inlets. The hiking trails vary in difficulty, with some routes being relatively easy and others requiring more experience and stamina.
In addition to hiking, visitors can also explore the Calanques de Cassis by boat, with several tour operators offering boat trips that take visitors through the inlets to see the scenery from a different perspective. Swimming and snorkeling in the cool, clear waters is also a popular activity, especially during the summer months.
The Calanques de Cassis are a must-visit destination for nature lovers and anyone who appreciates the beauty of the outdoors. With its stunning natural scenery, crystal-clear waters, and variety of activities, this coastal paradise is a true gem of the Aix-en-Provence region.
In conclusion, Aix-en-Provence is a city with a rich history and culture, and there are many must-visit attractions for anyone who is interested in exploring the city. From the picturesque Cours Mirabeau to the stunning art collection at the Musée Granet, there is something for everyone in this charming city. Don’t forget to also take in the natural beauty of the Calanques de Cassis and the vineyards at Château La Coste. So, whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or just looking to relax and enjoy the beauty of southern France, Aix-en-Provence is the perfect destination for your next trip.
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