Aix en Provence offers a wealth of history and culture, dating back to the Roman empire. Combined with an average of 300 days of sunshine, according to the Aix en Provence Tourism Office, it is no surprise that it attracts many visitors from around the world.
The old town is built on the remains of the Roman settlement and some of the existing walls and buildings date back to the Middle Ages (Rue Esquicho-coudo). The Saint Sauveur Cathedral, reputedly built over the Roman Temple of Apollo, is a mixture of architectural styles including Roman, Gothic and Baroque. Next to the Cathedral is the former Palace of the Archbishops of Aix en Provence and here you will find the much admired Tapestry Museum. The sumptuous ecclesiastical apartments are now home to a wealth of 17th and 18th century tapestries as well as more contemporary textile exhibitions.
Outside, where once medieval ramparts divided the Episcopal city from the “Cite Comtale”, you will find a pedestrianised shopping area. Other historical sites of interest in the vicinity include the Madeleine Church, the Clock Tower and the Corn Exchange.
The old town is separated from the new town by a ring road. Beyond it lies the “Cours Mirabeau”, a green corridor, interrupted by fountains and lined with elegant and decorative 17th century townhouses.
Museums of interest include:
The Granet Museum where you will find a collection of artifacts from the excavation of Entremont Oppidum (3km to the North of Aix en Provence) as well as a vast array of 16th to 20th century paintings, including 8 works by Cezanne.
The Cezanne Studio equipped with an audio-visual room to familiarize visitors with the painter and his inspirations.
The Natural History Museum with a collection of French dinosaur fossils
The Vendome Pavillion which presents the everyday life of an 18th century Aixoise household.
Hiring a car with Carhire3000 allows you to explore the historic town of Aix en Provence as well as the surrounding countryside. Hire a car in Aix en Provence itself or from the nearby airports of Marseille, Montpellier or Nimes and follow in the steps of Paul Cezanne along the “Route de Cezanne”, exploring the colourful landscape that inspired the painter. Sites of interest along the signposted route include Barage Zola, Chateau Noir, Chateau du Tholonet, Saint Antonin sur Bayon, Gardanne, Meyreuil, Jas de Bouffan, Entremont and Les Lauves.
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