Aix-en-Provence was the capital of the County of Provence until the Revolution. City refined, elegant and discreet, the historical center around the Cours Mirabeau has many mansions of the 17th and 18th century giving an aristocratic, almost elitist character. The contrast is striking with Marseille located thirty miles south, a vibrant popular metropolis, major port open to the Mediterranean sea. The opposition between the two cities has been from their origin, Entremont (3km north of Aix) was the capital of the gallic tribe Salyens, often in conflict with the Greeks of Marseilles, Aix was later the administrative capital of the province under the Romans, then capital of the County of Provence from the 13th century, and finally the seat of the Parliament of Provence and residence of the royal governor representing the central government.
Aix-en-Provence now has 150,000 inhabitants, it is a sub-prefecture of the Bouches du Rhone, and a cultural capital of Provence. Prestigious university center in the region, Aix owns largest and oldest university of Law and Letters. All year round cultural events take place including the Festival of Music in July, initiated in 1948, which has an international reputation. Aix has a unique heritage and has many museums including The Granet Museum, whose collections make it one of the richest museums in France.
Aix en Provence was the birthplace or hosted many scholars and artists, the most famous are the writer Emile Zola and the painter Paul Cézanne (1839-1906). The contemporary painter Vasarely has a museum in his name.
La campagne aixoise est également célèbre pour son charme, elle était le lieu de villégiature préféré de la noblesse provençale et on a souvent comparée cette région à la campagne italienne de Toscane, à la mode au 19ème siècle.
A Stroll in Aix-en-Provence
Awalk in Aix-en-Provence can begin to Liberation Square where stands the tourist office and where the roads converge from Marseille (Avenue des Belges) and Avignon (Boulevard de la République). A the the center of the roundabout stands the Fountaine de la Rotonde, a splendid fountain 12 meters high surrounded by an ornate lion and dolphin pool and sculptures representing the Arts, Agriculture and Justice.
The Cours Mirabeau is the heart of the city, this magnificent avenue separates the medieval old town north and south district in the 17th century. On the one hand, cafes and restaurants deploy attractive terraces, on the other side mansions display facadesof the 17th and 18th . A canopy of plane trees protect passersby from heat and incite walking and relaxation. The "Fontaine aux 9 canons" and the hot fountain where mineral water flows occupy the center of the roadway.
Aix is a city of water, fountains abound in the old city. Near the ruins of the Roman baths, a modern spa is still active. In the center of the medieval town, the town hall dates from the 16th and 17th centuries, it is topped by an elegant Clock Tower (early 16th century), built on top of a door of the medieval walls. The Hotel Post occupies the former Corn Exchange, which separates the place of the town hall of the neighboring Richelme site.
Aix-en-Provence has many religious buildings. Saint Sauveur Cathedral dates from 1175 but was rebuilt and enlarged several times, so that we can describe his composite style . The Church of St. Madeleine near the courthouse, was built on the site of the old palace of the Counts of Provence.
South of the Cours Mirabeau extends
neighborhood built in the 17th and 18th centuries. Very well preserved,
it is drawn by the rule of classical planning and contains beautiful
buildings. In its center is the Fountain of the Four Dolphins, considered
by many as the most beautiful of Aix-en-Provence.
Coming to Aix-en-Provence
Aix-en-Provence is located in the department of the Bouches du Rhônes (13). The city is served by TGV train station.
GPS coordinates N 43°31'52'' - E 5°27'14''
Accommodation at Aix-en-Provence :
•Large choice of B&B around Aix-en-Provence on the portal of Provence's guest houses
tourist office web site : www.aixenprovencetourism.com