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  • Joanne Herd

The Best Things to Do in Aix en Provence

March 22, 2024

Tucked away in Provence in southern France, Aix-en-Provence is a picturesque city that embodies the quintessence of Provencal charm.

Just a three-hour TGV (high-speed train) ride from the bustling streets of Paris, Aix offers a retreat into a world of historic elegance, vibrant culture, and breathtaking landscapes.

Known for its wine, art heritage, and the illustrious artist Paul Cézanne, Aix-en-Provence is a perfect escape for anyone seeking an infusion of culture, history, and the relaxed Provençal lifestyle.

But once you're there, what are the best things to do in Aix en Provence to take advantage of all that this beautiful city has to offer? Let this Aix en Provence travel guide inspire you to make Aix part of your next trip to France.

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Take a guided walking tour

Begin your Aix adventure with a guided tour to get to know the city. Led by a knowledgeable guide, take in the Cours Mirabeau, with its beautiful 17th century buildings.

Encounter some of the many fountains that Aix is famous for, like the Fontaine de la Rotonde and the Fontaine des Quatre Dauphins (Fountain of the Four Dolphins). Stroll through the historic Quartier Mazarin and take in the Aix Cathedral, a national monument of France.

Stroll Through le Cours Mirabeau

The Cours Mirabeau in Aix en Provence. An ivy covered fountain sits in the middle of a street of 4-story buildings. The street is lines with trees, and red awnings shade sidewalk cafes.
The Cours Mirabeau

After your tour, take some time to meander down the stately Cours Mirabeau on your own.

This avenue, shaded by plane trees, is lined with elegant cafés and fountains, so is worth spending some time sitting and soaking in the provençal charm.

It’s the perfect backdrop for a leisurely café au lait or glass of provençal wine.

Explore Vieil Aix (Old Town)

Next, delve into the labyrinthine streets of Vieil Aix, or Old Aix. This old town district is a maze of history, with charming boutiques, ancient fountains, and bustling squares. The markets here are a sensory feast, brimming with local crafts, flowers, and fresh Provençal produce.

Visit Atelier Cézanne

For art enthusiasts, Atelier Cézanne is a pilgrimage worth making. This studio, where Paul Cézanne created some of his most celebrated works, remains untouched, offering a profound insight into the artist's life and the birthplace of modern painting.

Discover Saint Sauveur Cathedral

Saint Sauveur Cathedral in Aix en Provence. The trees in the square don't have leaves, so you can see the front. of the cathedral across the stone paved square. The bell tower stands tall against a blue sky.
The Aix Cathedral

The Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur, a jewel of architectural history, showcases a range of styles from Romanesque to Gothic. Its ancient doors open to reveal a rich tapestry of art and history, including a stunning Gothic altar piece.

Visit a museum

Art lovers will revel in the Musée Granet, home to an exquisite collection spanning from Cézanne to Picasso. Nestled in the peaceful Quartier Mazarin, it’s a haven of artistic splendor. The Granet Museum was one of France's first public museums, and contains pieces by well known artists like Picasso, Matisse, Monet, Van Gogh and Cézanne.

Fans of optical illusions will want to head to the Fondation Vasarely. Victor Vasarely, a Hungarian artist, is one of the founders of the Op Art, or optical art, movement. Many of his works, from small to monumental, can be found here.

Enjoy the Markets

Immerse yourself in the vibrant heart of Provençal culture at Aix’s lively markets. The flower market in Place de l'Hôtel de Ville and the daily farmers market at Place Richelme are not to be missed, offering a taste of local life and flavors.

Hike (or bike) Sainte Victoire Mountain

The stone heights of Sainte Victoire Mountain are framed by trees and the rugged rock outcroppings stand firm against a clear blue sky.
Montagne Sainte Victoire

For the outdoor lover, a hike up Montagne Sainte Victoire presents a rewarding challenge. Favored by Cézanne, its summit offers breathtaking panoramas that capture the essence of Provence’s natural beauty.

If you prefer a bit of assistance getting up Mont Sainte Victoire, consider an e-bike tour for a fun, adventurous day out.

For additional beautiful views, take a road trip out of the city on a drive or tour to the Verdon Gorge, one of the most scenic drives in France.

Take a wine tour

No visit to Aix-en-Provence is complete without immersing yourself in the region's celebrated wine culture. Tucked amidst the rolling hills and lush vineyards of Provence, Aix serves as the perfect gateway for a Provence wine tour.

Hellow chairs stand around tables in an alleyway in old Aix en Provence. Wine glasses with turquoise napkins stand on the tables for a splash of inviting color.
A sidewalk cafe in Old Aix

If you'd like to mix your wine with some culture, a visit to the Château la Coste about 20 minutes outside of Aix is in order. Take an art and architecture walk around the estate, followed by a meal at one of their restaurants and a tasting in their wine cellar.

You can also combine a wine tasting with a day trip to the nearby French Riviera or a visit to some of the beautiful hilltop towns and villages of Provence for a full day of exploration.

Taste Calissons d’Aix

Conclude your Aix experience with the sweet delight of Calissons d’Aix. This almond-shaped candy, made of almond paste, melon and orange water, is emblematic of the region and provides a delectable taste of local tradition.

The bottom line: Things to do in Aix en Provence France

From its historic streets to its artistic treasures, and from its vibrant markets to the serene landscapes that inspired Cézanne, Aix offers a slice of Provençal life that is both enriching and utterly unforgettable.

If you loved this post, check out our other France travel blog posts and France trip planning resources.


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