Aix en Provence

Aix en Provence is Marseille's better-behaved, slightly younger brother. Founded in 123 BC by the Romans, Aix (pronounced "X") is today a lively university town with elegant, aristocratic old quarters, squares lined with cafes and cooled by fountains and a very vibrant arts scene.

"Its good taste comes so naturally that not even the students can disturb it," observed the travel writer Marcel Renébon. "It was the last city in France to give up its sedan chairs."

Lenfant Pavillion in Aix en Provence

Our gallery previews some of Aix's exquisite pleasures. Scroll down the page to read more about them.

And, if you would like a phone app guide, Edible Heritage offers a unique audio walking tour of historical Aix, plus tips on the best places to eat and drink in the city and little-known facts about local customs and tasty traditional specialities of Provence. Available here for iPhones and here for Androids.

booking.com logoClick here to book a hotel in Aix en Provence

Diabline, Aix en ProvenceAix en Provence is a compact city and many major sights around the Cours Mirabeau, Mazarin Quarter and Old Town can easily be visited on foot. But, if you want to rest your feet or venture further afield, there are various alternatives.

Calissons d'Aix on provencal tableclothOn most weekdays, the Old Town of Aix turns into a giant extended market where you can browse delicious regional produce in an exquisite historical setting.

Leonard Parli calissons AixIt's a pleasure to go shopping in Aix en Provence with its varied street markets and quality stores, all within an easy stroll round the elegant city centre.

The Cours Mirabeau, Aix en ProvenceThe Cours Mirabeau is one of France's great boulevards. The first thing you're likely to see when you arrive, it cuts a dash of Parisian Left Bank chic and sophistication under the sun of Provence.

The Place de l'Hotel de Ville, Aix en ProvenceAix's Old Town is perfectly poised to seduce the visitor with its winding streets, craft shops, boutiques, restaurants, elegant squares, refreshing fountains, markets - and all steeped in centuries, if not millenia, of history.

Cupid by Francois Dusqueno in Cezanne's studio at Les LauvesThe studio where Cézanne worked till the end of his life, the Atelier des Lauves is steeped in the artist's personality. It displays his painting materials and personal belongings as if he had just popped out for air.

The Bibemus QuarriesHidden in a pine forest high on a sandstone plateau, the brooding Bibémus Quarries are a majestic location and Paul Cézanne mined them for inspiration at the peak of his career.

The front approach to the Jas de BouffanThe Jas de Bouffan is an intensely atmospheric mansion where Paul Cézanne worked, on and off, for 40 years and produced some of his greatest work.

Sundial, Place des Precheurs, Aix en ProvenceIt's no accident that Aix en Provence is full of sundials. The city has over 300 days of sunshine a year and, in July, temperatures can quite easily reach 30 degrees Celsius or 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Vega by Victor VasarelyCreated in 1976 by the father of Op Art, the Fondation Vasarely has been eroded for decades by a family dispute. But a major restoration programme is well underway and this visionary centre remains a key destination for anyone interested in modern art.

The Forum des Cardeurs Aix en ProvenceFinding great - and great-value - restaurants is surprisingly difficult in Aix, despite its wealth, size and importance as a tourist destination, although there are some delightful hidden gems.

Gold-flecked Puyricard chocolatesIn the countryside just outside Aix en Provence, Puyricard, a luxury chocolate factory offers tours, courses and, of course, chocolates for sale. It also has an extraordinary story behind it.

French-style telephoneA lively university town with a large expatriate community, Aix has good resources for English-speakers. Here's a checklist plus the nearest embassies, consulates, doctors, lawyers and emergency phone numbers.

Study for The Card Players by Paul CezanneYou'll often find them in a provençal bar: players engrossed in a game of cards. And, as with his celebrated cycle on the Mont Sainte Victoire, Cézanne was fascinated by these peasants and returned to them again and again.

The Musee Granet, Aix en ProvenceOnce a sleepy provincial gallery, the Granet Museum has, thanks to some important loans and bequests, built up a fine collection of modern art over the last decade and now stages several major exhibitions a year.

Pavement stud on the Paul Cezanne walk in Aix en ProvenceIn a couple of hours you can connect with Paul Cézanne's spirit on a leisurely self-guided walk through the heart of Aix past many of his haunts.

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