Aix-en-Provence (France) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. Aix-en-Provence main attractions with descriptions, travel guides and maps.
Aix-en-Provence is a city in the south of France in the Provence region. It is the historic capital of this beautiful region of southern France (it was once the residence of the Counts of Provence). Aix-en-Provence is an elegant old town filled with baroque and rococo atmosphere, honey-colored buildings, shady alleys and fountains that help cope with the sultry Provence sun.
Aix-en-Provence contains some impressive old noble palaces, which is why it is often called the “city of counts.” There are also several hundred fountains, which gave rise to another of its nicknames, the “City of a Thousand Fountains”. Aix-en-Provence is definitely one of the best stops in Provence, where you can immerse yourself in the real atmosphere of Provence life and history.
What to do (Aix-en-Provence):
€156 per tour.
Secrets of an aristocratic Aix-en-Provence
Stroll through the city’s pleasant green streets, discover the life of Cézanne and hear intriguing stories…
Geography and climate
Aix-en-Provence is located in southern France north of Marseille on the Arc River. The city descends gently from north to south. To the east are the Sainte-Victoire mountains, which partially protect it from the Mistral. Aix-en-Provence has a warm Mediterranean climate with hot summers, rainy autumns, mild winters and warm springs.
- Population – 143,000 people.
- Area – 186.08 km2 .
- Language: French.
- Currency is euro.
- Visa – Schengen.
- Time – Central European UTC +1.
- Aix-en-Provence has many large fashion boutiques, as well as many small clothing, perfume and souvenir stores. These are complemented by several open-air markets in large plazas, offering handmade items and farm products.
In the 4th century BC, the area around Aix-en-Provence was settled by the Celts and Ligurs. Their capital, Antremont, was not far from the modern city. After the Romans defeated these tribes and destroyed their capital, a military camp, the Acqua Sextiève, was founded there. In the 4th century the settlement was given the status of the capital of the Roman province of Narbonne. In 477 Aix was occupied by the Visigoths. In the next century the city was successively occupied by the Franks, the Langobards, and in the 8th century by the Saracens.
Aix-en-Provence had its heyday in the 12th century, when it was home to the Court of the Counts of Provence. In the 15th century, the House of Anjou made it a major cultural and educational center. Aix-en-Provence became part of France in the late 15th century (along with the rest of Provence). The city was the capital of the historic region until the 19th century.
How to get there
The nearest international airports are in Marseille and Nice. Aix-en-Provence is easily accessible by train from Paris, Marseille, Nice, Genoa and Barcelona.
Aix-en-Provence has a charming old town (Vieil Aix). The heart of this neighborhood is the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, which features a 17th-century town hall with a beautiful Italian-style facade and ornate carved wooden doors.
One of the most famous landmarks of Aix-en-Provence is the Clock Tower (La Tour de l’Horloge), located to the right of the Town Hall. This structure was built in the early 16th century. Blocks of white limestone were used as the base of the tower, most likely from some Roman building. The clock was added in the 17th century. The building is crowned by a wrought iron terrace with a bell.
A popular site in the old town is the square d’Albertas, surrounded by elegant Baroque and Rococo buildings of the 18th century. On the south side is the neoclassical building of the grain exchange (la Halle aux grains).
Cours Mirabeau is an elegant avenue with shady plane trees and numerous cafes, restaurants and stores. It is an ideal place for a walk or lunch/dinner al fresco. The avenue links the town to the historic Mazarin district, built up with 17th and 18th century mansions.
The Pavillon de Vendôme is an elegant 18th-century residence surrounded by French-style gardens and houses a modern art museum.
The fountain on Place des Quatre Dauphins
The focal point of the Mazarin district is the Place des Quatre Dauphins with its whimsical 17th century fountain decorated with sculptures of four dolphins.
The Granet Museum in Aix-en-Provence is considered one of the best art museums in France. It contains an impressive collection of paintings from the 14th century, including works by great masters.
Saint-Sauveur is a cathedral, founded in the 5th century. It is a unique sacred monument, which was built during 12 centuries (from 5 to 17 centuries). The cathedral has a combination of Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque architecture, a magnificent Romanesque portal and a stunning Merovingian baptistery from the early Christian era. Three distinctive naves (Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque) can be distinguished in the structure of the building, reflecting the continuity of its construction over the centuries. To the right of the main aisle is the famous 15th-century Triptych by the Avignon artist Nicolas Froment. In the nave and south aisle one can see exceptional Flemish tapestries, and behind the high altar is the Chapel of Saint-Mitre, dedicated to the patron saint of the city.
The Museum des Tapisseries has a collection of 17th- and 18th-century tapestries as well as modern textiles.
Saint-Jean-de-Malte is a magnificent medieval church built between 1272 and 1277. It is considered the first Gothic church in Provence. The building was built during the Crusades, so it has features of defensive architecture (for example, loopholes on either side of the main portal). The architecture of the church is highlighted by a beautiful rose-shaped window on the facade and numerous works of art on the interior.
Church de la Madeleine
The Church de la Madeleine is an ancient religious structure founded in the 13th century by the Dominicans. It is a mixture of French Renaissance and Medieval Gothic architecture.
St. Catherine’s Chapel
St. Catherine’s Chapel is an elegant Baroque vaulted chapel built in the 17th century.
From €105 for a guided tour
Grand tour of Montmartre
Moulin Rouge, Dalida House, Villa Léandre, Chateau des Mists and other iconic spots of the bohemian quarter
from €130 per tour
The fabulous Louvre for children from 6 years old
An educational but not boring adventure that will be memorable for young travelers…
10 Aix-en-Provence Sights
Attractions in France
Aix-en-Provence is a beautiful picturesque town in France. Not all tourists know about it but you must visit it! It is located not far from Marseille, half way to it from the Luberon mountains, so to get to the town is easier from the station of Marseille. But in the age of high speed train connections to Aix you can get there from Paris and it takes only 3 hours, though the trains are not as often.
Boulevard Mirabeau in Aix
Tourists visiting Aix-en-Provence can see the Old City, bathe in thermal springs, walk along the Boulevard Mirabeau created in the 18th century, visit the Church of St. Madeleine and the Cathedral of St. Savior, admire exhibits in the Granet Museum, and visit the Church of Saint-Jean-de-Malt, which is recognized as the first church in Provence built in Gothic style.
The old town (La vieille ville d’Aix-en-Provence)
When you come to Aix-en-Provence on a tour, the best place to start is the area called the Old Town. There are several hotels to stay in without the hustle and bustle. In the old town there is an old city bell tower, built in the 16th century, where you can see a unique astronomical clock.
The bustling town market opens every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in the Place de Ville, and in the cozy courtyard is the Place d’Albertas, which was built for himself by a local president of the Chamber of Accounts named Jean-Baptiste d’Albert in 1741. He bought up the buildings standing around and was very keen to furnish the inner square, creating a view that would invariably delight the eye from any window. In those days it was considered a great waste, but nothing stopped the man. Later, a beautiful fountain was installed on the square, the exterior of which was decorated by students of the trade school. Not far from the square there is a natural history museum with various exhibits revealing the peculiarities of the flora and fauna of these lands.
Place and Fountain d’Albert.
Boulevard Mirabeau is the largest street of Aix-en-Provence which schematically divides the city into the modern part and the Old City. It hosts large-scale processions during important events, as well as popular cafes and boutiques.
Tourists recommend a visit to the Brasserie Les Deux Garçons, which has been serving the best beer and French cuisine since 1972. Camus, Cézanne, Picasso and Piaf once enjoyed spending time here.
Church of Saint Madeleine (Église de la Madeleine)
This church was built in the 17th century, in its walls buried the French nobles up to the Great French Revolution. Time has not spared this structure, so in 2006 it was decided to restore it, which was completed in 2013. Inside the church is an altar decorated with rock crystal and an 18th-century organ. Many years ago, the painter Paul Cézanne was baptized here, which added to the historical significance of the place in the eyes of tourists. St. Madeleine has a large collection of art, including a work by one of Rubens’ students.
Saint Savior Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur)
This cathedral in its long history has undergone several alterations and reconstructions. In the 6th century it was erected on the site of an ancient chapel, but by the 12th century only the baptistery, where many centuries ago infants were baptized, remained intact. At that time the Cathedral was rebuilt using mainly Romanesque style of architecture, and a few hundred years later it was completed and expanded, but already using the Gothic style. In the Cathedral there is an organ, which, according to local legends, the painter Paul Cézanne liked to come in and listen to. However, as he had perfect hearing, he heard the organist playing falsely and coughed loudly every time at such moments. When he was reprimanded he explained his behavior, but they told him that it was easier to keep him out of the church than to find a new organist.
The church of Saint-Jean-de-Malt, built in the 13th century, is considered the first Gothic building in Provence. Prior to that, it was the site of a small chapel housing a local hospice. A few decades later, new houses began to appear around the church, and in the 17th century one of its three towers was adapted as living rooms. At the height of the French Revolution, the decoration of the church and the relics stored there were looted, and the inside of the building was turned into an ordinary military warehouse. Toward the 20th century, the church began to look as seen by today’s tourists. Its bell tower continues to be the tallest structure in Aix. A real world treasure, located in the Church of Saint Jean, is the painting “Crucifixion” by Eugène Delacroix.
The Musée Granet houses unique collections of painting, archaeology and sculpture. It opened its doors to its first visitors in 1838 and underwent a global restoration in 2006.
The exhibits are grouped by theme. So, one room contains paintings by Cézanne, and in another various sculptures, etc. The ticket price is 6 euros (increases to 8 euros during some exhibitions), but for visitors under 18 years of age admission is free. It is possible to buy an audio guide in French or English for 3 euros.
Paul Cézanne Atelier (Atelier de Cézanne)
In 1901, Paul Cézanne bought land in Provence and built a studio, where he lived and worked in his last years. The house itself has hardly been repaired since the artist’s death, so it is in a very poor condition. But thanks to this fact, there is a feeling that the great artist has just finished painting another masterpiece and went out for a breath of fresh air. The cost of the ticket is 6.5 euros. Tourists note that before visiting the atelier, it is better to refresh your memory of the artist’s work.
Aix-en-Provence is famous for its balneological resort, where at an altitude of 175 meters above sea level in the valley of the Arc River, thermal springs gush out of the ground, which have unique healing properties. Healing water is taken internally, as well as filled into the therapeutic baths, which have a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal apparatus, and the overall condition of internal organs. About 200 tourists come through the complex every day, and recovery programs have different duration – from 2 days to several weeks. A one-day stay in the SPA will cost a tourist about 50 euros. There are also programs designed for several days or weekend complexes, which cost about 450 euros per person with accommodation and breakfast for two days.
Tapestry Museum (Musée des Tapisseries)
Tapestry Museum since 1909 is located in the former palace of the Archbishop, which actually preserved the tapestry exhibits. The atmosphere there conveys the spirit of bygone times; the exposition is small, but spectacular. Tourists note that the museum is extremely modest, but all the exhibits are covered with an aura of historical mystery – looking at the tapestries you are involuntarily transported back in time, when these fabrics decorated the houses of noble marquis and baronesses. The ticket price is 4,5 euros, it is forbidden to take photos inside.
Place et Fontaine des Quatre-Dauphins
Considered a must-see for tourists, this fountain was built in 1667 by sculptor Jean-Claude Rambaud and is a cone-shaped obelisk made in Baroque style and surrounded by four dolphins spewing water. It is located in the middle of a small square of the same name in the Mazarin quarter.
The famous sweet of Aix-en-Provence (calissons)
Aix-en-Provence’s pastry makers’ calling card is the calissons. They are almond and zucat cookies and were first made in the 15th century for the wedding of King René and Jeanne de Lanval. There are reports that calissons were handed out to parishioners after services in the 16th century. Provence is famous for its almond trees, with the development of trade its almonds could be found in many outlets in Europe. It was this nut that became the main component of the Provencal dessert. Real calissons are shaped like a rhombus with slightly rounded edges. In Provence, about 20 producers are engaged in the preparation of this delicacy, which is one of the Christmas desserts. They are all obligatory members of the “Union of Axe Calisson Producers”. The oldest factories are Maison Bremond, founded in 1830; le Roy René in 1920. Calissons do not contain any chemical additives, the variety of flavors is achieved through various candied fruits.
A little history of Aix-en-Provence
Aix-en-Provence was first mentioned in the 4th century B. C. But it reached its peak only in the 12th century, during the reign of the counts and marquis of Provence, who spent a lot of money to create a luxurious palace. In their age, the city sparkled with carnival masks, was filled with aromas of delicious food, the laughter of guests at numerous receptions, and the bright colors of merry fairs.
In 1486, Aix-en-Provence joined France and became the capital of the region. From then on, state power structures began to develop there: the vicar of the king settled in Aix, the Supreme Court appeared and a parliament was established.
In the 16th century, the rapid construction of cathedrals and other Baroque monuments began, many of which remain to this day.
The painter Paul Cézanne and the writer Emile Zola, who lived and worked in Aix for a long time, are key figures in the city that have made it world famous.
Aix-en-Provence combines the spirit of its past with the latest technology. Young people studying at the local university fill the city with life, which is full of creative ideas. Aix hosts a variety of art festivals, concerts and exhibitions, while the European Academy of Music annually hosts the best opera companies and delivers stunning opera performances.