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Visit Aix en Provence: Top things to do and see for a perfect stay in Provence

Visit Aix en Provence: Top things to do and see for a perfect stay in Provence

Vignoble Provence

Do you wan to visit Aix en Provence, France?

Provence is a beautiful region of south of France, where French people adore spending spring or summer holidays – in the middle of lavender and olive tree fields, lulled by the melody of cigales (cicadas). If you are planning a trip to Provence and wonder if you should visit Aix-en-Provence, or what are the things to do in Aix en Provence, we got you covered!

Endowed with a rich historical, cultural and architectural heritage, this slow-paced city has everything you need for a pleasant stay in south-est of France. Located close to Marseille, you can easily get to Aix-en-Provence: 45 minutes by train from Marseille, 2 hours by car from Nice or Cassis.

The city center of Aix en Provence can easily be visited on foot in 1 day, which is why we have prepared a selection of the essential places to see in the old town. For the most curious and nature lovers, we also have everything you need. Winalist gives you access to the best tourist activities in the surrounding vineyards of Provence.

Discover in this article our practical guide for a great trip to Aix en Provence!

Top 4 unmissable places in Aix en Provence, France

If you were to visit Aix during one day or a weekend, here are the places we recommend you see first:

  1. The old Town ;
  2. The Church of the Madeleine;
  3. Visit the studio of the painter Cézanne;
  4. See an exhibition at the Hôtel Caumont.

1. The Old Town of Aix

Keep your eyes peeled: the riches of the Old Town can be found around every corner!

A street in the old town, typical when you come to visit Aix-en-Provence
Cardinal Street – Source: Pixabay

From the Clock Tower to the cathedral, the narrow streets and small typical squares are a magnificent testimony to the Roman era of Aix-en-Provence. The Mediterranean atmosphere and the colorful houses are truly enchanting. It is called from time to time the “Florence of Provence”.

Aix-en-Provence is a spa town that has existed since Antiquity. The old town, to the north, will take you back in time, passing through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The old Aix is mainly pedestrian, which facilitates quiet walks.

To discover during your walk in the historic city center of Aix-en-Provence:

  • The ancient baths of Sextius;
  • The University Palace;
  • The Cours Mirabeau;
  • The Rotunda fountain;

2. The Church of the Madeleine

In front of the Palais de Justice stretches the Place des Prêcheurs, opened in the 15th century by King René. It became the center of public and social life before the Cours Mirabeau was created. This is where the Madeleine Church was built, where the famous painter Paul Cézanne was baptized.

church of the madeleine in Aix-en-provence
Church of the Madeleine in Aix-en-Provence – Source: Elliott Brown, Flick.com

Considered for a long time as the most beautiful place of worship in the Bouches-du-Rhône, this church is welcome to meditate of course, but also during days of walking in very hot weather to cool off.

Inside, you can admire several religious works, as well as a large organ like in many churches in town. Some paintings by great painters are also exhibited there, in particular the triptych The Annunciation by Barthélémy d’Eyck.

For several years, it was under renovation, which prevented visiting the interior, but its imposing facade was still beautiful and clearly visible. Today, the church is accessible to the public.

3. Cezanne’s studio

Aix-en-Provence marked the life of Cézanne. He would even have painted his most beautiful canvases at the top of the Saint-Sauveur mountain. Located 20 minutes on foot from the Old Town centre, this is the place where Cézanne spent the last years of his life perpetuating his art.

An almost intimate atmosphere awaits you. We discover in this place everything that made up the daily life of the artist. Some of his last unfinished sketches are presented there, as well as all his material and his inspirations.

Original, playful, creative and instructive, this preserved place is almost touching because it has remained as it is, in order to transport us to the atmosphere of sunny mornings in Cézanne’s studio. A guided tour with the tourist office is recommended, the speakers are very educational and interesting. In short, it is a must in Aix en Provence.

4. The Caumont hotel

This 18th century private mansion is the majestic representative of the bourgeois houses in the center of Aix en Provence. Located at 3 Rue Joseph Cabassol, this Historic Monument contains a temporary exhibition space, a period museum, a French garden, as well as an elegant tea room-restaurant. You could therefore eat there in case of cravings.

Each year, major exhibitions take place at the Center d’Art de Caumont. Audio guides and guided tours are offered.

Aix en Provence wine trip: visit the Provencal vineyards

Would you like to explore the surroundings of Aix en Provence and discover Provence vineyards? Then we have what you need to discover some treasures!

Discovering the wines of Provence - Vignevasion

Share privileged moments in the magnificent Provencal vineyards with Winalist’s partner winegrowers and producers. This is a unique opportunity to take advantage of visits to the vineyards and tourist circuits while discovering the regional grape varieties.

Visit most beautiful Aix-en-Provence wineries, share unique moments. Stock up on memories and flavors!

Wine tourism in Aix-en-Provence with Vignevasion

Vignévasion, wine tourism agency in Provence is aimed at individual customers wishing to take advantage of a day or half-day tour in Provence, and at groups or companies.

 - Vignevasion

During an excursion in a comfortable van departing from the city center, you will meet passionate winegrowers, local and authentic producers as well as the most beautiful villages of Provence. Of course, each tasting will be commented on and shared by the winemaker who welcomes you on the day of the visit.

Several experiences are offered by Vignevasion:

  • “Wines, Lavenders and Photoshoot”;
  • “Provence Gourmande”: discovering the wines and olive oils of the Aixoise countryside;
  • Discovery of the wines of Provence.

Visit wineries close to Aix en Provence

Find all wine tastings & wine tours near Aix en Provence and book the ones that suit best you for a privileged moment with friends or family! From small family estates to more prestigious and well-known Provence wine cellars, we will spend amazing time together with passionate wine-growers that are more than happy to share their story and know-how.

How to best enjoy Provence Rosé wine than in a Provencal winery!

Things to do in Aix en Provence: Top 3 activities

Here is our selection of the Top 3 ideal Aix-en-Provence activities for a successful stay.

1. Climb the Sainte-Victoire mountain

The Sainte-Victoire mountain is one of the must-sees in the Pays d’Aix. Located to the east of Aix-en-Provence, this small mountain is known worldwide largely thanks to the sixty works of the painter Paul Cézanne of which it is the subject.

For lovers of climbing, hiking and nature walks, this is paradise. The present Sainte-Victoire mountain benefits from lush Mediterranean and south-alpine vegetation due to its geographical orientation. There are no less than 900 different flowering plants!

Sainte-victoire mountain in Aix-en-provence
Mountain Sainte-Victoire – Source: Pixabay

The hike is fairly easy to the Pic des Mouches via the Versant Nord; it takes about 1h30 of ascent and 1h of descent. From the immense cross of Provence at the highest point, you will observe the infinity of an immense valley, the Lubéron, the Esterel massifs and will see the northern districts of Marseille.

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2. Taste the famous calissons of Aix

A great Aix en Provence tourism activity, is to visit the Léonard Parli confectioner’s house, located at 35 Avenue Victor Hugo. This was the first factory of Calissons d’Aix, founded in 1874 by Léonard Parli, a Swiss confectioner passing through the region. For more than 150 years, the factory has passed down its secrets from generation to generation to produce delicious calissons. To be enjoyed on the spot with a coffee to spend a pleasant moment in the shop.

At the Roy René confectionery (53 Route d’Avignon), discover a cultural, fun and interactive trail that will delight young and old alike. At the Calisson museum, you relive the gourmet epic of Roy René through reconstructions and exhibitions. But above all, you can watch the making of nougat and Calisson d’Aix directly in the confectioners’ workshop.

The self-guided tour for this activity is free, and the guided tour with tasting costs €6 per adult (free for children).

3. Visit of the Mazarin district

Built in the 17th century, the Mazarin district is one of the most popular in Aix-en-Provence. During your walk, you will discover the most elegant and sumptuous villas built throughout the 18th century. This district is a symbol of the prosperity of the wealthy craftsmen, merchants and great bourgeois of the time.

private mansion in the Mazarin district
Front of a mansion in the Mazarin district – Source: Pixabay

Start your visit by rue Cardinale, a major axis, by visiting the Hôtel de Gallifet, dedicated to contemporary art. You can also enjoy its interior garden, in the shade of hundred-year-old trees. Not far from there is the impressive fountain of the Four Dolphins. Sculpted in 1667 by Jean-Claude Rambot, it symbolizes the typical Baroque art of the city of Aix-en-Provence.

At the end of the street, you will find the Saint-Jean de Malte church which is the only Gothic building in Provence. Among the most beautiful works exhibited there, The Crucifixion painted by Delacroix is the centerpiece. In the immediate vicinity, you can also enjoy the Granet museum, one of the most important in the region (about 750 permanent works, including several masterpieces by Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, or even Pablo Picasso, and many sure Paul Cézanne, the child of the city.

FAQ & Useful Resources

What do you call the inhabitants of Aix-en-Provence?

There are several ways to name them. In general, they are called the “Aixois”. Otherwise, they are the Aquisextain(e)s, or Aquisestain(e)s.

How to get to Aix-en-Provence?

3 hours from Paris and just over 1 hour from Lyon, Aix-en-Provence is connected to the whole of France thanks to the TGV. The train station is located 2 minutes from Cours Mirabeau. Marseille Provence Airport in Marignane may be an option for travelers coming from the North of France.

Where to park for free in Aix-en-Provence?

The closest free car park to the city center is that of Casino Supermarché (1, avenue Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny). At the main entrances to the city, the relay car parks are fenced and guarded car parks with frequent and free bus shuttles to reach the city center for only €2.20 per day.

Useful addresses and tips

The Aix-en-Provence Tourist Office is located at 300 Avenue Giuseppe Verdi. In particular, you can buy the CityPass there, which gives access to many activities including guided tours, museum tickets and discounts at partner establishments.

What to eat when you visit Aix ?

It’s perhaps a cliché to come to France for the food and drink, but Aix is nonetheless a gourmand’s paradise. Head to the daily market in Place Richelme (open every day of the year until 1pm) and the surrounding streets to find artisan shops that treat chocolate like an art form and olive oil like delicate perfume. The Rue d’Italie is full of delicatessens, independent cheese shops and great butchers and bakers, where you can pick up a rotisserie chicken for lunch and fresh baguettes. Aix’s dining scene is exploding, with some 700 restaurants of all kinds and styles. Choose one with an outside terrace and have a glass of local rosé wine in the sun.

Where to shop when you visit Aix ?

Aix is nicknamed the 21st arrondissement (district) of Paris, which reveals itself in its elegantly dressed residents who love to shop. Aix has independent fashion boutiques dotted all over town, as well as all the usual international and national chains. Shops are increasingly opening all day and on Sundays, but the trend is still to open from 10am to 12pm and again from 2pm to 7pm after a long lunch break. Many places are still closed on Sundays and Mondays, including restaurants.

Where to sleep when you visit Aix ?

We recommend these hotels in Aix-en-Provence that are located near top attractions like the Old Town and Cours Mirabeau:
La Maison d’Aix: This four-star boutique hotel in the Quartier Mazarin, near the Cours Mirabeau, features a spa with a hammam and pool. The hotel also offers concierge services and free breakfast.
Adagio Aix-en-Provence Centre: Near the Cours Mirabeau, this four-star hotel provides apartment-style accommodations featuring chic decor and kitchenettes. A breakfast buffet is available.
Hôtel Cézanne: Decorated in trendy modern style, this four-star boutique hotel is a short walk from the Old Town. Amenities include concierge services and a breakfast buffet.
Ibis Aix-en-Provence: This budget-friendly hotel is a 10-minute drive from the Centre Ville where the tourist attractions are located. The three-star hotel features sleek decor, as well as an outdoor swimming pool and sundeck. A breakfast buffet is available.

How to Make the Most of Your Visit to Aix-en-Provence ?

To discover charming villages, nature sites, and glamorous resorts around Aix-en-Provence, the easiest option is to take organized day trips led by knowledgeable guides. The travel arrangements are by luxury minivan, so tourists can relax and enjoy the scenery during the ride.
– Visit the Luberon’s Charming Villages: Spend an entire day exploring quaint villages of the Luberon region in Provence. The Luberon Villages Day Trip from Aix-en-Provence is a nine-hour guided driving tour that stops at some of the area’s prettiest villages, including Lourmarin and Gordes. Each village has its unique charm; many villages have traditional Provençal markets and inviting boutiques that sell artisanal products.
-Explore the Gorges du Verdon Nature Site: Travelers seeking a refreshing change of environment will enjoy the Verdon Gorge and Moustiers Ste-Marie Tour from Aix-en-Provence. This nine-hour driving tour takes tourists through the breathtaking Gorges du Verdon, one of Provence’s most stunning natural wonders, with stops at the nearby L’Occitane cosmetics factory and the beautiful village of Moustiers Sainte-Marie.

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