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Things to do in Aix en Provence

Drink in a truly artistic vineyard

Some 15km (9.5 miles) outside of Aix en Provence is Chateau La Coste (tel: +33 4 4261 9290; www.chateau-la-coste.com), a working, biodynamic vineyard that doubles as an outdoor art installation. Artists were encouraged to treat the Chateau's grounds as their own, resulting in a fascinating two-hour art and architecture walk that's bookended by a taste of the Chateau's righteous vino.

Go for a drink in Cezanne’s local

Post-Impressionist Paul Cezanne helped change the artistic landscape towards the end of the 19th century, and much of his time away from the easel was spent in Les Deux Garcons (tel: +33 4 4226 0051; http://lesdeuxgarcons.fr) on the main drag in Aix. Whether you're after a cafe au lait, an absinthe or a plate of boeuf en daube, it's the city's prime people-watching gallery.

Hike up Sainte-Victoire Mountain

Set 16km (10 miles) outside of the city, Sainte-Victoire Mountain was made famous by local painter Cezanne, who could see it from his house and featured it in over 60 landscapes. It takes around two hours to reach the top, which is marked by the 19m-high (62ft) Cross of Provence. If you don't have your own wheels, bus L110 runs directly to the mountain.

Visit one of Aix en Provence’s many markets

Provence's markets are known across the world. There's a daily farmers' market at Place Richelieu and one at Place des Prêcheurs every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. On the same days, a phantasmagoric flowers market blossoms on the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville and an antiques market crops up at the Place Verdun. Don't miss the old books market on the first Sunday of each month at the place de l'Hotel de Ville either.

Visit the Fondation Vasarely

Consisting of 14 hexagons standing next to each other, each 14m wide (46ft), the Fondation Vasarely (tel: +33 4 4220 0109; www.fondationvasarely.fr/uk) is one of the most arresting pieces of modern architecture in the country. Originally conceived by artist Victor Vasarely as a polychromatic city of happiness, this wonderful art gallery now looks like a question from a maths A-level paper.

Featured Hotels

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Hotel des Quatre Dauphins

Located in the Mazarin district, by the fountain of the same name, this hotel combines period Provençal furniture and pretty fabrics with modern conveniences. This intimate hotel, a former private mansion, has only 13 rooms accessible via an elegant stairwell. Although the rooms are small, they're full of charm.

Hotel du Globe

This simple two-star hotel is a good budget option, as it's in an excellent location in the city centre. Its 46 airy rooms have some stylish touches; try to book one with a balcony. A bonus is the lovely roof terrace that has views of Aix's rooftops.

Hotel Saint-Christophe

This Art Deco-style hotel is only a few steps away from Cours Mirabeau and the Rotonde fountain, and there's a lively brasserie on the ground floor. Rooms are smartly furnished, and some come with balconies or terraces. Those in the luxury category have especially stylish bathrooms with modern stand-alone baths.

Renaissance

Just a few minutes' walk from the Grand Théâtre is this sleek, contemporary five-star hotel with a Michelin-starred restaurant and a spa with an indoor pool and a gym. Its 133 stylish rooms have breezy modern décor, and the garden terrace is a wonderfully relaxing spot for a cocktail.

Le Pigonnet

This gorgeous 18th-century Provençal bastide (country house) has 44 rooms and suites, beautiful gardens and an outdoor swimming pool. Just to the south of Aix, this five-star hotel is within easy walking distance of Cours Mirabeau. There is also a renowned restaurant, a stylish lounge club plus a hammam and fitness area.

Villa Gallici

Located in the north of the city, this elegant and peaceful 17th-century Provençal house features a romantic restaurant, a lavish terrace and a swimming pool. The hotel has 22 rooms and suites overlooking a lavender-scented garden, all of them sumptuously decorated in rich fabrics. It's one place worth splashing out on.