Aix-en-Provence is a charming city located in the Provence region of France. Known for its stunning architecture, lively markets, and delightful cafes, Aix-en-Provence is a cultural hub that has inspired many artists and writers throughout the centuries.
The city has a rich history dating back to the Roman era and has been influenced by various cultures, including Roman, French, and Italian.
Despite being a popular destination for tourists, Aix-en-Provence still has many hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
Here are some hidden gems worth exploring in Aix-en-Provence:
- Cours Mirabeau: A lively boulevard in Aix-en-Provence with charming cafes, fountains, and historic buildings, such as the Hôtel de Ville and the Palais de Justice.
- Saint-Sauveur Cathedral: A stunning Romanesque-style cathedral that dates back to the 5th century, with impressive Roman columns and beautiful frescoes.
- The Granet Museum: This museum houses a collection of European art, including works by Cézanne, Van Gogh, and Picasso.
- The Atelier Cézanne: The former studio of the famous painter Paul Cézanne, this museum displays his works and personal items.
- The Mazarin District: A charming neighborhood with picturesque houses, narrow streets, and a history of aristocratic living.
Get to know Aix-en-Provence
Aix-en-Provence is a charming city in the south of France, located in the Provence region. Known for its stunning architecture, lively markets, and delightful cafes, Aix-en-Provence has a rich cultural heritage that has inspired artists and writers throughout the centuries. The city boasts a fascinating history, dating back to the Roman era, and has been influenced by various cultures, including French, Italian, and Roman. Visitors can explore its well-preserved historic center, with its narrow streets, fountains, and ornate buildings, or relax in one of its many parks and gardens. Aix-en-Provence is also renowned for its food and wine, with local specialties such as calisson and Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence wine. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, food, or just soaking up the sun in a picturesque city, Aix-en-Provence is a must-visit destination.
Let’s introduce the hidden gems…
1. Cours Mirabeau
Cours Mirabeau is a famous avenue in Aix-en-Provence that stretches for approximately 440 meters from the Rotonde fountain to the Mazarin quarter. It is considered one of the most beautiful avenues in France and is a popular destination for tourists visiting Aix-en-Provence.
The avenue is lined with beautiful trees and elegant buildings, many of which date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. These buildings include former private mansions, cafes, restaurants, and shops that showcase the traditional Provencal architecture.
Cours Mirabeau is also home to several historic landmarks, such as the 17th-century Palais de Justice, the Fontaine des Quatre Dauphins, and the iconic Les Deux Garçons café. The latter has been frequented by famous artists and writers such as Paul Cézanne and Ernest Hemingway.
Cours Mirabeau is not only a historical and cultural attraction but also a vibrant hub of activity, with numerous markets, street performers, and festivals that take place throughout the year. It is a perfect place to take a leisurely stroll, enjoy a coffee or a meal, and soak up the unique atmosphere of Aix-en-Provence.
Why it is worth visiting
Here are some reasons why it is worth visiting Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence:
- The avenue is lined with elegant buildings, including former private mansions, cafes, and restaurants that showcase traditional Provencal architecture.
- Cours Mirabeau is home to several historic landmarks, such as the 17th-century Palais de Justice, the Fontaine des Quatre Dauphins, and the iconic Les Deux Garçons café.
- The avenue is a hub of activity, with numerous markets, street performers, and festivals that take place throughout the year.
- Cours Mirabeau has been frequented by famous artists and writers such as Paul Cézanne and Ernest Hemingway, adding an extra layer of intrigue to this already fascinating avenue.
- The avenue is lined with beautiful trees and boasts picturesque views of the surrounding mountains, making it a perfect place to take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the natural beauty of the region.
2. Saint-Sauveur Cathedral
Saint-Sauveur Cathedral is a beautiful cathedral located in the heart of Aix-en-Provence, France. The cathedral is also known as the Aix Cathedral and is dedicated to the Holy Saviour. It is one of the oldest and most significant churches in the region, with a rich history that dates back to the 5th century.
The current cathedral was built on the site of an earlier church in the 12th century and features a stunning blend of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. The facade of the cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic design, with intricate carvings and ornate details that are sure to leave visitors in awe.
Inside the cathedral, visitors will find a stunning array of artwork and religious artifacts, including a beautifully carved Baroque altar and a stunning 18th-century organ. The cathedral’s nave is also adorned with colorful frescoes and intricate stained glass windows that are sure to captivate visitors with their beauty and artistry.
In addition to its religious significance, Saint-Sauveur Cathedral also has an important place in the cultural history of Aix-en-Provence. It has been the site of numerous concerts and cultural events over the years and is an important gathering place for the local community.
Why it is worth visiting
Here are some of the key reasons why you should consider adding it to your itinerary:
- The cathedral’s stunning blend of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, with its intricate carvings and ornate details, is a feast for the eyes and a testament to the skill of the craftsmen who built it.
- Saint-Sauveur Cathedral is one of the oldest and most significant churches in the region, with a rich history that dates back to the 5th century.
- The cathedral is home to a stunning array of artwork and religious artifacts, including a beautifully carved Baroque altar, a stunning 18th-century organ, colorful frescoes, and intricate stained glass windows.
- The cathedral has an important place in the cultural history of Aix-en-Provence and has been the site of numerous concerts and cultural events over the years. It is an important gathering place for the local community.
3. The Granet Museum
The Granet Museum is one of the most important art museums in the south of France. It was named after the 18th-century painter François-Marius Granet, who bequeathed his collection to the city of Aix-en-Provence.
The museum’s collection spans several centuries and includes works of art from the Middle Ages to the present day. It features an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, and objets d’art, with a particular emphasis on 17th- and 18th-century French painting. Some of the most famous works on display include paintings by Cézanne, Monet, Van Gogh, and Rembrandt, as well as sculptures by Rodin and Giacometti.
The Granet Museum is housed in two main buildings: the Palais de Malte, a former 17th-century military barracks, and the Chapel of the White Penitents, a 17th-century Baroque chapel. The museum underwent a major renovation in 2007 and now includes modern facilities and interactive displays, making it an engaging and educational experience for visitors of all ages.
In addition to its permanent collection, the Granet Museum hosts regular temporary exhibitions, showcasing a diverse range of artistic styles and movements. The museum also offers a variety of educational programs and guided tours, making it an excellent destination for families, students, and art lovers alike.
Why it is worth visiting
Here are some reasons why The Granet Museum is worth visiting:
- It is one of the most important art museums in the south of France.
- The museum has a vast collection of paintings, sculptures, and objets d’art from different periods.
- It showcases works by some of the most famous artists in history, including Cézanne, Monet, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Rodin, and Giacometti.
- The museum’s collection is housed in two stunning buildings, the Palais de Malte and the Chapel of the White Penitents.
- The museum has modern facilities and interactive displays, making it an engaging and educational experience for visitors of all ages.
- The museum’s regular temporary exhibitions showcase a diverse range of artistic styles and movements.
- The museum is located in the heart of Aix-en-Provence, making it easily accessible for visitors exploring the city.
- The museum offers guided tours, audio guides, and educational programs for visitors interested in learning more about the artworks and their history.
- The museum’s terrace offers a stunning view of Aix-en-Provence and the surrounding countryside, making it a great spot to relax and take in the scenery.
- The museum is a great way to discover the rich artistic heritage of Aix-en-Provence and the wider region.
4. The Atelier Cézanne
The Atelier Cézanne is a museum located in Aix-en-Provence that was once the private studio of Paul Cézanne, one of the most influential painters of the 19th century. The museum provides an intimate look into the life and work of the artist, who lived in Aix-en-Provence for most of his life.
The museum is housed in a typical Provençal house that was converted into a studio by Cézanne in the early 1900s. The museum showcases some of Cézanne’s most famous works, including still-life paintings, landscapes, and portraits, as well as the tools and materials he used to create them. Visitors can see the artist’s personal belongings, including his furniture, books, and photographs, giving them a glimpse into his daily life and creative process.
One of the highlights of the Atelier Cézanne is the garden, which was designed by Cézanne himself and features the same plants and trees that he painted in his works. The garden offers a peaceful and picturesque setting, and visitors can see the view that inspired many of Cézanne’s landscapes.
The Atelier Cézanne is a must-visit for art lovers, history buffs, and anyone interested in the life and work of Paul Cézanne. It offers a unique and personal experience, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the world of one of the greatest painters of all time.
Why it is worth visiting
The Atelier Cézanne is worth visiting for several reasons:
- The museum provides a rare glimpse into the private world of one of the most influential artists of the 19th century.
- The Atelier Cézanne is housed in a typical Provençal house that was converted into a studio by Cézanne himself.
- The museum offers a personal and intimate experience, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the world of the artist.
- It provides a unique perspective on the city and its history, making it a worthwhile addition to any itinerary.
5. The Mazarin District
The Mazarin District is a historic neighborhood in Aix-en-Provence that was built in the 17th century. It is named after Cardinal Mazarin, a powerful minister in the court of Louis XIV, who ordered the construction of the neighborhood. The Mazarin District is characterized by its elegant architecture, narrow streets, and impressive mansions with ornate facades and intricate ironwork.
The neighborhood is home to several notable landmarks, including the Hôtel de Caumont, a stunning Baroque mansion that now serves as a museum and art center. It also houses the Granet Museum, which features an impressive collection of art from the 16th to the 20th century, including works by Cézanne, Van Gogh, and Picasso.
In addition to its cultural attractions, the Mazarin District is a charming place to explore on foot, with its small squares, fountains, and hidden courtyards. The area is also home to several restaurants, cafes, and boutiques, making it a great place to spend a leisurely afternoon or evening.
Why it is worth visiting
- Offers a glimpse into Aix-en-Provence’s rich history and culture
- Features elegant architecture and ornate facades of mansions that testify to the wealth and influence of past residents
- Home to several important cultural institutions, including the Hôtel de Caumont, which houses a museum and art center showcasing fine art collections
- Visitors can admire works by world-renowned artists such as Cézanne, Van Gogh, and Picasso, among others
- A beautiful and charming place to explore on foot, with narrow streets, small squares, and hidden courtyards full of surprises
In conclusion, Aix-en-Provence is a charming and historic city that offers a unique blend of culture, art, and natural beauty. From the stunning views of Montagne Sainte-Victoire to the picturesque alleys and squares of the Mazarin District, and from the historic Saint-Sauveur Cathedral to the masterpieces on display at the Granet Museum, Aix-en-Provence is a city full of hidden gems just waiting to be explored.
One of the must-visit destinations in Aix-en-Provence is the Atelier Cézanne, which provides a fascinating glimpse into the life and work of the famous artist who called Aix-en-Provence his home. Another hidden gem is the Cours Mirabeau, a vibrant avenue lined with elegant mansions, charming cafes, and bustling markets.
Whether you are interested in exploring the city’s history, art, or cuisine, Aix-en-Provence has something for everyone. And, with its beautiful architecture and rich cultural heritage, the Saint-Sauveur Cathedral is a must-visit destination for those interested in the city’s history and architecture.
So, if you are planning a trip to Aix-en-Provence, be sure to add these hidden gems to your itinerary. You won’t regret it! Whether you are a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, you are sure to discover something new and exciting in this beautiful city.
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