The 18 best sights of Aix-en-Provence – descriptions and photos

Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence (France) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. Aix-en-Provence main sights with descriptions, guides and maps.

Aix-en-Provence (France).

Aix-en-Provence is a city in the south of France in the Provence region. It is the historic capital of this picturesque 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, so it’s often called the “city of counts.” There are also several hundred fountains, which earned it another nickname: 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):

Secrets of an aristocratic 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.

Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence

Tourist information

  1. Population – 143,000 people.
  2. Area – 186.08 km2 .
  3. Language: French.
  4. Currency is euro.
  5. Visa – Schengen.
  6. Time – Central European UTC +1.
  7. 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.

History

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

Aix-en-Provence

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.

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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.

Attractions

Old town

Old Town

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.

Clock Tower

Clock Tower

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

Cours Mirabeau

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 city 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 the Place des Quatre Dauphins

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

Saint-Sauveur

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-Maltes

Saint-Jean-de-Malthe

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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

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 Chapel

St. Catherine’s Chapel

St. Catherine’s Chapel is an elegant Baroque vaulted chapel built in the 17th century.

Interesting tours

Grand Tour of Montmartre

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

A fabulous tour of the Louvre for ages 6 and up.

from €130 per tour

The fabulous Louvre for children from 6 years old

An educational but not boring adventure that will be remembered by young travelers

The 18 best sights of Aix-en-Provence – descriptions and photos

Aix-en-Provence Hotel de Ville

The sights of Aix-en-Provence can more or less be seen within 1 day. But if you’re coming in high season, in the heat of summer, and you’re going to learn more about Paul Cézanne’s life story, it’s better to stay in Aix for a couple of days.

Aix-en-Provence cathedral Aix-en-Provence sights

What’s there to see in Aix?

Aix is famous for its fountains. The largest and most famous is on Boulevard Cours Mirabeau, the main street of the city. Here just there is a moss-covered fountain that takes water from a hot spring.

Along with the dozens of fountains dotting the city, Aix is famous for its architecture. The varied and often elaborate doors are a key feature of the town, as are the campanillas. The bell towers in Aix-en-Provence, and more broadly in Provence, the campanillas, are made of wrought iron. This allows the strong winds of the Mistral to flow right through them, as hard stone would be destroyed by the force of the wind.

Aix-en-Provence sights

Cézanne and Aix-en-Provence:

Aix-en-Provence is the birthplace of Paul Cézanne, so you can experience the places where the great Impressionist was born, lived and worked.

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Paul Cezanne Avenue Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence sights on a city map:

Aix-en-Provence sights

Aix-en-Provence trip trip report:

Aix-en-Provence Cours mirabeau.

Cours mirabeau – Boulevard Mirabeau

Aix-en-Provence fountains:

Aix is often referred to as the city of a thousand fountains. Among the most notable are the 17th-century fountain of the Four Dauphins (fountain of the four dolphins) in the Mazarin quarter, designed by Jean-Claude Rambaud, and the three fountains down the central boulevard, the Cours Mirabeau: Upstairs, a 19th-century fountain depicts the “good king” René holding the Muscat grape he introduced to Provence in the 15th century; halfway down, a natural fountain with hot water (34° C) covered in moss, dating from the Romans; and down in La Rotonde, the center of modern Aix, stands a monumental 1860 fountain under three giant statues representing art, justice and farming. In the old part of Aix there are also the famous fountains in Albertas Square and Trois-Hormeaux Square.

Aix-en-Provence fountains

Aix sights:

Aix-en-Provence Jean Seka Mausoleum - Joseph Sees

Mausoleum of Jean Sek – mausolée Joseph Sez (1792)

Pavillon de Vendôme

Aix-en-Provence fontaine d'eau Chaude - Fountain of Warm Water

The fontaine d’eau Chaude, the Fountain of Warm Water.

Aix-en-Provence sights - Grand théâtre de Provence

Grand théâtre de Provence.

Aix-en-Provence sights - Pavillon noir

Pavillon noir “Black Pavilion”.

Around the Old City

Atelier de Cézanne – Studio of Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne’s studio, which has now been converted into a museum where everyone can get a closer look at the creative atmosphere of the great artist.

If you are interested in the life and work of the great impressionist, you can follow the tourist route “In Cézanne’s footsteps”. which will take you past the buildings and places associated with the life of Paul Cézanne. Three places outside of the center of Aix are key: the Studio Paul Cézanne, the Jas de Bouffan family mansion and the Bibemus quarries.

There is also a tourist route through Aix-en-Provence of Cézanne – past buildings and places associated with the artist’s life.

The museum building is already a work of art. It was created in 1976 and consists of 16 impressive hexagonal parts. Inside this unique building there are 42 monumental works by Vasarely, known as the father of “sinetism”, as well as a room dedicated to optical art. Victor Vasarely’s project had both an architectural and a social objective: to show that art can be incorporated into architecture in order to improve the quality of daily life.

Aix-en-Provence fondation vasarely

Cité du livre – cultural center

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Mazarin quarter – Mazarin quarter

Attractions of the Mazarin quarter in Aix-en-Provence:

Cathédrale st-sauveur – Aix Cathedral

The Cathedral of St. Savior in Aix-en-Provence is one of the three churches of the archdiocese awarded the honorary status of “small basilica”.

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The church was built on the site of a former Roman forum of the 1st century, which was located, according to tradition, on the site of a former pagan temple dedicated to Apollo. Built in the 12th century and rebuilt several times until the 19th century, the church had elements of Romanesque, Gothic and Neo-Gothic styles. The Romanesque columns and part of the baptistery from a previous Christian church from the 6th century are still intact.

Hôtel de Caumont (1715-1742)

The mansion was designed by architects Robert de Cotte (1656-1735) and Georges Vallon (1688-1767) and built between 1715 and 1742 for François Roland de Roville de Tertull, Marquis of Caban. The sculptors Jean-Baptiste Rambaud and Bernard Thoreau designed the atlas. Inside, there is an interior fountain at the entrance with two staircase steps, one for the family and one for the staff.

In 1964, General Isembart sold the mansion to the City of Aix. The city used it for the La Poste postal service. From 1970 to 2013, it was home to the Darius Miglio Conservatory of Music School. The mansion was listed as a historic monument in 1990.

  • 3 Rue Joseph Cabassol, 13100 Aix-en-Provence

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Place des 4 dauphins.

The square is named after a fountain decorated with figures of four dolphins. The fountain was built in 1667. Many beautiful mansions overlook the square, including the Boisjelen, which stands out for its beautiful courtyard and the facade with its monumental frieze.

The fountain in the center of the square, the work of sculptor Jean-Claude Rambaud in 1667, presents four “architectural dolphins” surrounding a pyramid, which was originally topped with a statue of Saint Michael, in honor of Archbishop Michel Mazarin, who organized the construction of this new quarter of Aix in 1645. The statue was successively replaced by a fleur-de-lis, a Maltese cross, and then a pine cone.

Aix-en-Provence Place des 4 dauphins.

Eglise st-Jean de malte – Church of St. Jean of Malta

The Church of St. Jean of Malta is located on the corner of rue d’Italie and rue Cardinale. This ancient Gothic church, built in the 13th century, was the first Gothic church in Provence. In the 12th century, it was the site of a hospice and chapel of the brotherhood of the Hospitallers (also known as the Johannites, members of the Order of St. John or Knights of Malta). This church was part of the monastery of the same order, located in an olive grove outside the city walls of Aix-en-Provence. Beginning in the 13th century, the church served as the tomb of the counts of Provence. In the 17th century, with the extension of the fortress walls to the south, the church became part of the city of Aix. At that time, the monastery sold these lands, which created the Mazarin quarter. In the period following the French Revolution, much of the interior decoration, treasures and statues of the church were removed or looted, and the church itself was converted into a military warehouse. In the 19th century it was eventually rebuilt as a parish church. It now belongs to the ministry of the brotherhood of the Apostolic Friars.

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Aix-en-Provence Eglise st-Jean de malte - The Church of St. Jean of Malta

The Granet Museum – le musée Granet

Museum of Archaeology and Fine Arts. Housed in the Order of Maltese Knights, it takes its name from the local artist François Marius Granet, whose works are also on display.

The permanent exhibition has one of the richest collections in Provence, mainly consisting of paintings by French artists from the 16th to the 20th centuries, as well as various art schools: Dutch, Flemish and Italian. Since 1984, eight works by the famous impressionist Cézanne have been in the museum’s collection.

The Archaeological Hall contains a collection of finds from the Aix area and is dedicated to the Celto-Ligurian civilization.

Aix-en-Provence le Musée Granet

Eglise de la madeleine

The church is on the Place des Prêcheurs, which takes its name from the Dominican monastery that was destroyed by fire in 1363, on whose grounds the Church of Saint-Madeleine was built. Construction took place under the direction of the architect Laurent Vallon from 1691 to 1703. The architect from Aachen, Henri Revoyle, redesigned the façade of the church between 1855-60. The building has long been considered the most beautiful church in the Bouches-du-Rhône region. The church was declared a historic monument in 1988.

Tapestry Museum – Musee des Tapisseries

The museum displays 19 tapestries made in Beauvais between the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as 9 panels from the life of Don Quixote.

The Tapestry Museum is a huge building, the former archbishop’s palace, converted into a museum in 1909. The palace, thanks to the archbishop, has preserved a rich collection of ancient tapestries.

Aix-en-Provence Musee des Tapisseries

Museum of Natural History – muséum d’histoire naturelle

Located in the beautiful Hôtel Boyer d’Eguilles, the Natural History Museum, founded in 1838, houses a collection of dinosaur fossils, unique in France, found around the mountains of Saint Victor. The museum also features a collection of fish, insects and fossilized plants found in the Aix region.

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