Aix-en-Provence and its surroundings

13 must-dos in Aix-en-Provence

1. Discover the city with an enthusiastic guide

Read Aix like an open book, don’t miss any of its beauties, discover its hidden decors, learn about its prestigious past, its architecture, its heritage and its monuments, enter its private mansions, enjoy surprising anecdotes, walk in the steps of Cezanne… This is what awaits you with our tour guides, accredited by the Ministry of Culture and Communication, and our street story-tellers.

Information, bookings and departures at Aix-en-Provence Tourist Office.

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2. Feel the intensity of Cezanne’s places

Open the door of Cezanne’s studio and enter the artist’s private world. Discover the house where he began painting, by exploring the grounds and the family property of Jas de Bouffan. See some of his works in the space dedicated to him in the Granet Museum. In the Bibémus Quarries, look through Cezanne’s eyes at Sainte-Victoire opposite you.

Walk in Cezanne’s footsteps and visit the city as he experienced it. A pedestrian route marked by studs stamped with a “C” leads you from the house where he was born to his final resting place in the St Jean cemetery. Discover the landmarks of his early years (the house where he lived as a child, his schools, etc), the places that marked him, the homes of his family and acquaintances, the cafes where he met his friends and other artists…

Ask at the Tourist Office for the Cezanne Pocket Guide. This free mini-guide is essential for following the painter’s life and work in Aix-en-Provence and the Aix Region, step by step.

And don’t forget our guided tour, from April to October, “In the Steps of Cezanne” : information and ticket booking space.

3. Discover the new 18th century jewel made Art Center

At the heart of the Mazarin district, Hôtel de Caumont Art Center invites you to delve into the intimate atmosphere of a private mansion . With a sober and elegant exterior decoration and a richly decorated interior, the former Hôtel de Caumont underwent a major restoration project to return its former glory. This exceptional site will offer two annual temporary exhibitions dedicated to art masters. There is also a tea room , a lounge bar and a pretty bookshop .

4. Calissons: indulge yourself

A mix of almonds and candied melon with orange blossom fragrance, marzipan is a sun trap all by itself . This is THE specialty of Aix-en-Provence .

Push the door of a confectionery or a craft factory and discover the unique taste of this delicacy.

Do good / Delight the gourmands ! All the the Pays d’ Aix specialties are on sale at the Tourist Office’s shop:” Comptoir du Pays d’Aix “, including calissons!

Did you know? According to tradition each year the calisson receives a blessing. To attend the event,  come and visit the Church of Saint John of Malta the first Sunday of September .

5. Stroll around the historic city

Bathed in the sunshine of its wonderful climate, the elegance of Aix-en-Provence can be seen everywhere in its lively streets and squares.

Here, history is the setting for everyday life that blends the fun of shopping with the city’s noble heritage, the pleasure of a cafe terrace with architectural beauty, a stroll through the town with Baroque splendour. It has the third-largest collection of Baroque architecture in France, after Paris and Versailles.

Each fountain has its secrets, each mansion has its tale to tell. Country homes stand in parks and gardens as in bygone centuries.

Aix-en-Provence is an invitation to travel in time.

To discover all the secrets of our city and its history, go on a tour with one of our guides who are all accredited by the Ministry of Culture and Communication, or one of our street story-tellers.

To whet your appetite, here are some of the themes of our guided tours: Splendour and Decor of Aix’s private mansions, Libertines and Courtesans, Aixoteric and our unmissable In the Steps of Cezanne…

6. Stop for a while on Cours Mirabeau

Once a street for horse-drawn carriages, Cours Mirabeau is now one of the busiest and liveliest places in the city, steeped in history and the perfect place for a stroll.

You’re sure of a welcome at any time of the day: for your morning coffee on a cafe terrace as you watch the city come to life, for lunch in the shade of the plane trees, or for the happy hour when people meet after work to enjoy the last of the sunshine before the evening.

7. Visit one of France’s finest museums

The Granet Museum, classified as one of the finest in France, is just off Rue d’Italie, very close to Cours Mirabeau. It is situated the former Palace of Malta, and contains collections of works from the 14th to the 20th century, by Rembrandt, Ingres, Cezanne and the “Cezanne à Giacometti” donation.

Since it reopened in 2006 it has hosted major international exhibitions: the Cezanne Exhibition in 2006, From Picasso to Cezanne…

The museum’s modern art stock was considerably expanded in 2010, with a 15-year loan by the Fondation Jean et Suzanne Planque of the collection of Jean Planque, the Swiss painter and collector who passed away in 1998.

This collection is composed of some 300 paintings, drawings and sculptures from the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists: Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Degas and Redon to major artists of the 20th century such as Bonnard, Rouault, Picasso, Braque, Dufy, Laurens, Léger, Klee, Bissière, De Staël and Dubuffet…

In order to exhibit the essential pieces of this magnificent collection – nearly 120 works – under the title “Granet XXe, collection Jean Planque”, the Community of Pays d’Aix, in conjunction with the city of Aix-en-Provence, has refurbished the Chapel of the White Penitents, a gem of 17th-century Aix architecture, thus giving the Granet Museum more than 700 square metres of additional exhibition space.

8. Experience the sensations of a market

In Aix there are as many markets as days in the week. From fruit and vegetables to antiquarian books to the flower markets, they fill the city with sound and colour.

Held in the city’s many squares and in other districts, they are places to meet people and discover things, especially the region’s traditional sun-drenched cuisine.

9. See an authentic 18th-century Aix residence

Not far from the bustle of the city centre, surrounded by French-style gardens, the Vendôme Pavilion is in one of the loveliest “follies” (pleasure houses) remaining from the 17th century. This place of peace and beauty reflects the splendour and fine living of bygone days.

It contains furniture, paintings and objets d’art from the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and portraits recalling the people who lived there.

Temporary exhibitions are regularly held in the Pavilion.

10. Seeing differently at the Vasarely Foundation

Dive into the fascinating world of optical art in the heart of the light – kinetic building designed by Victor Vasarely. Listed Historical Monument, this architectural center in Aix-en-Provence is constituted of sixteen hexagonal modules,  nested in a huge building set, which present 44 monumental architectural integrations .

11. Remember to the Memorial Site of Camp de Milles

The Memorial Site of Camp des Milles is the only major French Internment and deportation camp still intact and accessible to the public.

The building is classified as an Historic Monument among the major French Memorial Sites and offers an historical, memorial and a reflexive approach, through an innovative and multi-disciplinary visit.

12. Have fun strolling and window-shopping

Fashion, decoration, luxury, tempting foods…Aix-en-Provence is the perfect shopping destination.

Strolling through the streets of the old town or in the Allées Provençales shopping centre, everyone will find something to suit their budget.

You will find the leading names of fashion and style in the pedestrian streets: Hermès, Sonia Rykiel, Longchamp, Zapa, Agnès B, Repetto and Gérard Darel, to name but a few.

The trendy brands – Zadig et Voltaire, Comptoir des Cotonniers, Sandro, Bérénice, Sessun, Kiwi are everywhere, like the high-quality multibrand shops for which Aix is also famous.

In the newest shopping district, Les Allées Provençales, you will find chain stores such as H&M, Zara, Nature et Découverte, Fnac and Monoprix.

Aix also has a huge choice of bookshops and stationers, art galleries, decoration and souvenir shops (L’Esprit des Lieux, Souleiado, Les Olivades, L’Occitane, Place aux Huiles).

If you have a sweet tooth, visit the renowned patisseries (Weibel, Béchard, Riederer, Philippe Segond), delicatessens (including Jacquèmes) and famous calisson-makers (Parli, Brémond, La Chocolaterie de Puyricard).

And don’t forget the Tourist Office shop “Le Comptoir du Pays d’Aix, which offers a selection of regional specialities and crafts, and many ideas for souvenir gifts.

13. Enjoy the city’s night-life

The mild climate of Aix-en-Provence makes it a great place for night-life.

With a casino, three cinemas, more than ten discotheques and lots of bars and pubs, not to mention concert halls, theatres and cafe-theatres, night-birds won’t be disappointed in Aix!