The breakfast room at the Hotel Cezanne, Aix en ProvenceThe Cézanne is one of the very many spots in Aix to trade on the name of the city's most famous son, though you do wonder what the sober and serious-minded Paul might have made of it. logoClick here to book a hotel in Aix en Provence

The hotel website extols its "discreet luxury" but in fact the decor could better be described as brash and bling - in a knowing, post-modern way, of course. Faux zebra chairs sit in a lobby throbbing - like the breakfast room - in riotous shades of puce and deep crimson.

Abstract paintings to match line the walls (the artist is Zidan - no, not that Zidane, but a Syrian-born painter who now lives in Aix and Berlin).

The designer is Charles Montemarco, the same local hot-shot who already presides over two of Aix's most highly-prized hotels, the Villa Gallici and 28 à Aix.

Cézanne's owner, Catherine Spieth-Ducret, formerly worked for the Mercure chain, for which she managed this hotel and another one in Aix.

Going independent in 2004, she purchased the Cézanne and set about transforming it into what she claims is Aix's first "boutique hotel". She was rewarded in 2010 with the establishment's promotion from three to four stars.

Some may find it over-priced (not to mention a trifle over-stated), though the conveniently located Cézanne does offer such thoughtful touches as pre-stamped postcards in the rooms and a computer corner off the lobby, including a machine with an American keyboard, as well as the usual free wi-fi.

Bedroom at the Hotel Cezanne, Aix en ProvenceComplimentary parking is available in a private garage a block away - a real bonus in a city where this comes at a premium - but space is limited, so be sure to book it in advance. Pets are welcome.

A common complaint is that the rooms are on the small side, which was certainly true of no. 109.

No. 101, which looks on to an attractive little inner courtyard, is called a "junior suite" but is really just a slightly larger than average bedroom with a tiny seating area, a bathroom (with bath and shower) and separate WC.

Burnt orange is the dominant colour in this room for the curtains, as well as for the somewhat regrettable shag rugs and for PC's signature stencilled all along the walls.

Each of the 55 rooms is slightly different, though all are idiosyncratic (pictured: another of the Cézanne's junior suites).

They all also have a free mini-bar, though it contains only non-alcoholic drinks; stronger fare is available from the self-service bar off the lobby. Free espresso machines are on every floor. There is no restaurant and the 24-hour room service is limited to pasta in terms of food.

The breakfast includes unlimited champagne, as well it might at a hefty supplement, and such delicacies as salmon and truffle omelettes. Moreover - and this is perhaps the biggest luxury of all - it is served until noon.

If breakfast at the hotel seems too pricey, there are two modest bistros a few yards away, opposite the city centre station, and plenty of others just up the road at La Rotonde and on the Cours Mirabeau.

Visited December 2010

Where: 40 avenue Victor Hugo, 13100 Aix en Provence. Tel (+33) 4 42 91 11 11. Book a room at the Hotel Cézanne


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