Aix en Provence Travel Guide
About Aix en Provence
With its historical façades, paved squares, meandering streets and thermal springs, Aix-en-Provence simply overflows with charm.
Known as is the city of a thousand fountains, it’s with blessed backdrop of breathtaking mountains and countryside, and is home to some fantastic gastronomy.
Thanks to its compact centre, this is a city that’s easily explored on foot. Head first to the main thoroughfare, Cours Mirabeau, a street lined with cafés, restaurants and elegant mansions, and shaded by rows of centuries-old plane trees. Sit down awhile at a terrace and watch life go by over a coffee.
Three of the city’s more notable fountains are located on Cours Mirabeau. There’s a 19th-century work depicting King René holding the Muscat grapes he introduced to Provence in the 15th century; a natural hot spring covered in moss, dating back to Roman times; and the 1860 La Rotonde, beneath three giant statues representing art, justice and agriculture. But the most spectacular fountain of all is the 17th-century Fontaine des Quatre Dauphins (Fountain of the Four Dolphins) in the Quartier Mazarin.
People have been flocking to Aix since Roman times to benefit from the restorative properties of its thermal waters. Past visitors have included such luminaries as Winston Churchill and Pablo Picasso. Today, the main draw for spa lovers is Thermes Sextius, in the heart of the old town, a modern bathing complex offering various therapies.
In terms of art, Aix is inextricably linked with Paul Cézanne, the 19th-century post-impressionist painter who was born and schooled here. Throughout his life he was inspired by the nearby Sainte-Victoire mountains, which feature in many of this works. Today, you can pay homage by visiting his studio on the town’s northern outskirts.
Aix is also a centre for the arts. Numerous festivals take place year-round, the two most famous being Musique dans la Rue, and Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.
Compact, well-preserved, and bathed in sunshine for much of the year, Aix makes an ideal base for exploring the delights of Provence.