Aix en Provence

Lenfant Pavillion in 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."

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

aix calissons smallOn 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.

Vega by Victor VasarelyCreated in 1976 by the father of Op Art, the Fondation Vasarely was eroded for decades by a family dispute. But, thanks to a major restoration programme, this visionary centre is now a key destination for anyone interested in modern art.

The Cours Mirabeau, Aix en ProvenceThe Cours Mirabeau is one of Europe'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 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.

Children's workshop at the Vasarely Foundation Aix en ProvenceAix en Provence is a city, whose pleasures - wine, art, history, culture - are very adult ones. But there are plenty of fun options here for children too.

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 millennia, of history.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Box of Leonard Parli calissonsLéonard Parli was a candied fruit confectioner who, like many fellow-countrymen, fled Switzerland in the 19th century to escape famine. He ended up in Aix and in 1874 set up a company to make the city's famous speciality, the calisson.

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

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