Aix-en-Provence photo aix-en-provence0068s.jpg (11 k) Aix-en-Provence is the city of art, and a city of light and activity. Aix is also a home of art schools and several universities, including some American, attracting a youthful population that sparks the atmosphere.
 
Aix is also ancient: a Celtic-Ligurian capital from the 3rd century BC was pushed aside for the founding of Aix in 122 BC, as Aquae Sextiae [see Aix-History].

location map for Aix-en-Provence area map
Dept: Bouches-du-Rhône (13)

More:  | Aix-en-Provence History | Aix-en-Provence Museums |

Also:  | Aix-en-Provence Itineraries |

Nearby: | Arles 76 km | Avignon 82 km | Cadenet 28 km | Cannes, France 152 km | Lourmarin 37 km | Manosque 56 km | Marseille 31 km | Nice, France 176 km (1hr30) | Pertuis 20 km | Saint Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume 35 km | Salon-de-Provence 32 km | Sisteron 102 km | Le Tholonet 5 km | Toulon 78 km | Vauvenargues 14 km |

Hotels near Aix-en-Provence: | Aix-en-Provence | 20 km Pertuis | 28 km Cadenet | 31 km Marseille | 32 km Salon-de-Provence | 35 km Saint Maximin | 37 km Lourmarin |

For pronunciation, you pronounce the "x", so Aix sounds like ex, as in "X marks the spot". On road signs, the name is shortened into Aix-en-Pce.

The center of Aix is the old town (vieille ville), ringed by a circle of boulevards and squares. It's a small-enough area to explore by foot, but there's way too much to see in one or two days. The medieval Aix was protected by a wall with 39 towers. Today only the 14th century "Tourreluquo" tower remains, at the northwest corner of the town. One of the famous cafés, Le Cours Mirabeau is the center of the center, and the heart of Aix. The Cours Mirabeau is a beautiful tree-lined avenue, with one side lined with wonderful terrace cafés and bookshops. If you sit at only one French sidewalk café outside of Paris, it should be here, where the air is warm, the light sublime and the sidewalk alive. Large plane trees overhang the length of the avenue, giving day-long shade on hot summer days. Some of the more famous cafés are: Le Grillon [this photo], Les Deux Garçons, La Belle Epoque and Le Café du Cours.

For breakfast in Aix, we buy spinach quiches and mushroom quiches at a shop low on the Cours Mirabeau, across from the cafés, and have them with our "grandes crèmes" at Les Deux Garcons.

What's happening in Aix this week?
• The "Semaine des Spectacles" is a weekly guide available from newsstands. It comes out every Wednesday, and contains everything that's going on in the towns of Provence and the Côte d'Azur (including Aix, Cannes, Nice). It lists restaurants, nightclubs, movies (many in "Version Originale"), museums, and other diversions.
• "La Semaine" is a weekly guide for Aix, available free from the Office de Tourisme. In addition to the movies, theaters and concerts for Aix, it has a calendar of expositions for most of the Beyond region.

Vieille Ville

The old town of Aix is packed with shops, markets, museums, religious and architectural sites and historical sites. The terrace cafés on the Place des Précheurs (by the flower market) attract many of the younger locals, with lower prices than those on the Cours Mirabeau.

Mazarin District

The Quartier Mazarin is the area south of the Cours Mirabeau. This area of 17th-century town houses ("hôtels particuliers") was built in 1646-51 by the Archbishop Mazarin. The Granet Museum, Paul Arbaud Museum and the 13th-century Eglise St-Jean-de-Malte are in the Quartier Mazarin.

Sextius Baths

The "Thermes Sextius" in the northwest corner of the town, along the Bvd Jean Jaurès, are 18th-century hot-water baths set in a large tree-shaded park (closed for extensive renovation, 1996-97). This is near the site of original Roman baths, which were large enough to attract visitors to Aquae Sextiae 2000 years ago.

City of Fountains

village photo Aix-en-Provence is full of fountains. Everywhere, throughout the town, fountains big and small bubble and spray and splash.
 
The Cours Mirabeau has some of the finest: The great fountain (1860) at La Rotonde [top photo], in the Place Général de Gaulle at the bottom end of the "cours", spraying up into the sunlight. The Fountain of 9 Cannons (1691), half way up, bubbles away in the shade [this photo]. Another block up the "cours" is the moss-covered hot-water fountain dating back to 1734, although the 35°C (93°F) spring has been enjoyed for its healing properties for 2000 years [photo-4]. King René's Fountain, at the top of the "cours" was built in the 19th century; the statue is of Roi René holding a bunch of Muscat grapes, which the good king introduced into Provence.

The lovely Fontaine des Quatre Dauphins (this photo) at the Place des Quatre Dauphins, in the Mazarin district, was built in 1667 by Jean-Claude Rambot.

Markets

Main Market - Mon, Tue, Thur, Sat. The main market by the Palais de Justice is a big affair of fresh produce and food, bric-à-brac and flea-market. The flower market is on the Place de Verdun and Place des Prêcheurs, by the Ste-Madeleine church. The clothing market that used to be around the old prison is now along the "other side" of the Cours Mirabeau. The old prison, smack in the center of town, was rebuilt as an administrative building [1996-97].

Food Market. A daily market with food and fresh produce is held in the Place Richelme, between the post office and the old grain market.

Flower Market. During the three market days, a colorful flower market is held at the Place de l'Hotel de Ville.

Gastronomy

Aix-en-Provence has every kind of restaurant imaginable, from fast-foods to the highest of haute-cuisine (two Michelin 3-stars).

Calissons d'Aix, in the shape of a small boat, have been made and sold in Aix-en-Provence since the 17th century.

Another little boat pastry made in honor of the Saints and their little boat is the navette.

Favorite Sons and Daughters

Paul Cézanne

Cézanne was born in Aix-en-Provence. He was raised here, studied here, lived here (and other places), and eventually died here. He was one of the many famous clients of the Deux Garcons café on the Cour Mirabeau. One of his favorite subjects was Mont Sainte Victoire, to the east of Aix. The Office de Tourisme has a multi-lingual guide, Dans les Pas de Cézanne, with a walking itinerary through town to see some of the places he frequented.

Nina Simone

Nina Simone (Eunice Kathleen Waymon) bought a house in Bouc-Bel-Air, just south of Aix-en-Provence, in the winter of 1992. The house was destroyed by fire in June of the following year, but she remained in the area until her death in April 2003, in Carry-le-Rouet, a seaside village just west of Marseille.
 

Office de Tourisme

La Rotonde (2, place du Général De Gaulle)

Tel (CDT): 04 42 16 11 61; Fax: 04 42 16 11 62

Web: www.aixenprovencetourism.com

Email: infos@aixenprovencetourism.com

Open: Mon-Sat 8h30-19h; Sun, holidays 10h-13h, 14h-18h
Information, books, teeshirts and umbrellas, excursions

Automobile Club

Tel: (33) 442 23 33 73

Dates

Foire: Every Tue - Brocante, Marché; Place Verdun

Foire: Every Thur - Brocante, Marché; Place Verdun

Market: Every Sat - Brocante, Marché; Place Verdun. Mornings; a big market, one of the best, and our favorite.

Foire: 1st Sun - Brocante books; Place Mairie

Museums


Wine

Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence is an aoc wine from in the Côte de Provence region.

Transportation Aix-en-Provence

Air

Bus

Excursions

Rail

Fun - Amusement - Kids

Mini Golf


Sports

Cycling

Diving

Golf

Hiking

Maps

IGN (1/25,000) #3143 ET "Aix-en-Provence, Vitrolles, Lambesc"

Didier Richard (1/50,000) #14 "Luberon, Sainte-Victoire"

Excellent hiking is available directly northeast and east of Aix, with a couple of the trails about a 30-minute walk from the center.
icon dot The GR9 (Grande Randonnée) trail traverses the length of the Montagne Sainte-Victoire. From the "croix", on the peak nearest Aix, the trail goes down through the forest to Vauvenargues, then on north through forests and hills, past Jouques and across the Durance. East from the "croix", the trail follows the length of the ridge, then down to Puyloubier and south to Trets and on to the Massif de la Sainte Baume.

Dining

Les Bacchanales

Location: 10 rue de la Couronne

Closed: Tue, Wed lunch;

Tel: 0442 272 106

* The cave is a real wine museum. Last services: 14h, 23h.

Le Cadran Solaire

Location: 9 Place Ramus

Tel: 0442 271 854

Excellent Provencal cuisine, decorative, terrace, great service. Menu is limited but imaginative. We've eaten there a couple of times, most recently in June 2000. "Les grandes salades repas" are full-meal salads,truly fine and well presented. Chef: Thierry Coulmeau.

Chez Maxime

Location: 12 place Ramus

Closed: Sun, Mon lunch; 15-31 Jan

Tel: 0442 262 851

* Located in the old stables of the old chapelle Saint-Antoine. Last services: 14h, 22h30. Terrace dining. The tiny Place Ramus is cosy, with other terrace restaurants. Food is truly great, but the service died before the end (we'd go back anyway). The drinks-wine list runs to 81 pages.

Les Deux Garcons

Location: Cours Mirabeau

This may be the most famous of Aix's Cours-Mirabeau terrace cafés, with its fin-de-siecle interior. Also serves meals for lunch and dinner.

Lodging - Hotels