Entertainment and Attractions of Aix-en-Provence, France

Start your walk from the quarters of the Old Town, turning north from the picturesque square and the plane tree Mirabeau Boulevard, built in the 18th century on the site of the fortress wall. Here, among the small squares and narrow streets, you can find, decorated with paintings by Rubens and Van Lo, the church of St. Madeleine, the medieval massive facade of the city hall, the old grain exchange (where the post office is now located), the Gothic cathedral of the archdiocese of Aix-en-Provence Saint- Sauveur (or the Cathedral of the Holy Savior, 15-16 centuries) with a cozy inner cloister and a triptych “The Burning Bush” by Nicolas Froment (15th century) in the interior.

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The Archbishop’s Palace of Ansier-Archeves houses the Musée des Tapisseries, exhibiting tapestries created in Beauvais in the 17th and 18th centuries (open daily, except Tuesday, from 10:00 to 12:30 and from 13:30 to 18:00 (from October to April – until 17:00); admission – 3.50 EUR), and the Old Town Museum (Musee du Vieil Aix, open daily, except Tuesday, from 10:00 to 12:30 and from 13:30 to 17:00; admission is free). Be sure to look here for the first Gothic church of Provence – the Church of Saint-Jean-de-Malte (Saint-Jean-de-Malte), belonging to the Order of the Hospitallers. It is interesting for its restraint of style, a special shade of stone, an abundance of light in the interior, unique stained-glass windows of the mid-19th century and numerous paintings, including Delacroix’s “Crucifixion”. The bell tower of the church is 67 meters high and is the highest point in the city.

After a glass of aniseed pastis with local calissons (almond biscuits with candied fruit and icing), why not admire the paintings of Rubens and Van Lo in the church of St. Madeleine.

Returning to Mirabeau Boulevard, pay attention to the creation of the French sculptor David d’Angers (Pierre-Jean David D’Angers, XIX century) – the statue of King René the Good with a bunch of grapes in his hand. At the other end of the boulevard, this sculptural dominant is balanced by the Rotunda fountain by the architect Théophile de Tournadre.

On the south side of the central boulevard lies the Mazarin quarter, which was formed in the middle of the 17th century as a fashionable area of ​​aristocratic residences. On Place Saint-Jean-de-Malte in the rector’s house dating back to 1671, you will find the Granet Museum (Musée Granet, open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 19:00; entrance – 8 EUR), whose collection includes exhibits of fine arts and archeology, in particular objects from the excavations of the ancient capital of the Ligures – Antremont. The museum bears the name of the French classicist artist and native of Aix-en-Provence, François Marius Granet, who donated a large collection of paintings to the museum.

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Lavender oil and Marseille soap are leaders in the hit parade of Provencal souvenirs.

No less famous is Atelier Cézanne (Atelier Cézanne, 9, Avenue Paul Cézanne) – the former artist’s studio, which stores creative tools, objects used for numerous still lifes, several finished canvases, and most importantly – the atmosphere that reigned within these walls during the life of the landscape painter. Place d’Albertas (la Place d’Albertas) is notable for its architectural ensemble, created in 1735-1741 by order of the chairman of the Accounts Chamber, Jean-Baptiste d’Albert. A miniature square with a fountain is formed by the facades of three mansions, which have partially adopted the regular division and decor of Italian palazzos.

The Vasarely Foundation (Fondation Vasarely, 1 avenue Marcel Pagnol) is a unique architectural museum complex designed in the late 1960s by the French architect, graphic artist and sculptor of Hungarian origin Victor Vasarely. The exposition includes his numerous abstract and geometric experimental works – the results of the search for modern architectural and graphic languages. (Open daily, from 10:00 to 18:00, full rate – 9 EUR, preferential – 6 EUR (for youth from 16 to 26 years old and students) and 4 EUR (for children from 5 to 15 years old).

Another popular cultural center of Aix-en-Provence is La Cité du livre, an impressive media library complex. Here, in the reconstructed space of the old match factory, it will be interesting to look at lovers of modern literature and cinema. It hosts film screenings, lectures, performances, temporary exhibitions, and in October, the traditional “Book Festival” (la Fête du livre), dedicated to the literature of a particular country or a famous contemporary author. The famous troupe Ballet Preljocaj has also found its home in the center.

Festivals in Aix-en-Provence

The historic capital of Provence welcomes June with the Music in the Streets (Musique dans la rue) festival, at which time its streets and squares turn into outdoor concert venues, where jazz, street opera, electronic music, folklore, rock and many other musical and vocal genres. In total, more than 40 concerts open to all comers.

The city’s loudest festival is Le Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, a celebration of opera, performing arts and classical music. The festival takes place annually (since 1948) in June-July and is always full of outstanding names and performances. The halls and stages of Aix, including the large Greco-Roman amphitheater, host guest performers from all over the world: operas and musical theater plays are performed here, concerts, solo programs, conferences and master classes for young vocalists and musicians are held.

The beginning of July is the time of “Baroque Aix” (Aix en Baroque), chamber concerts of baroque music, Aix in November hosts a festival of European short films. From October to December, “Pianist nights” (“Les Nuits Pianistiques”) are held throughout Provence.

Around the city

In the vicinity of the city, you can climb the picturesque Mount Saint-Victoire (1010 m) – the favorite “muse” of Paul Cezanne, see the castle of the 14th century in Vauvenargues, which belonged to the counts of Provence, the archbishop, and in 1958-1973 – Picasso (here is and his grave). Between Cabasse and Carces is one of the largest Cistercian abbeys in Provence – a monument of Romanesque architecture of the 12th century, the monastery of Thoronet.

The medieval Provencal village of the 11th century Entrecasteaux is notable for its well-preserved architectural and historical landscape, fortification castle complex of 16-18 centuries and a regular park, laid out by the famous French gardener Andre le Notre (André le Nôtre, 1613-1700). The picturesque small town of Aups, which has preserved traces of fortifications, fountains and ancient sundial dials on the facades of buildings, is revered as the capital of the black truffle. It houses the Simon Segal Museum (1898-1969).

The picturesque little town of Op is revered as the capital of the black truffle.

The neighboring department of Var will delight lovers of eco-tourism and outdoor activities: here is the Les Gorges du Verdon canyon, impressive in its size and beauty. The natural regional park, spread over 178,000 hectares, is especially picturesque in October. You can drive along the grandiose gorges and rapids by car or rent a catamaran or kayak on Lake Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon to walk along the “bottom” of the gorge. You can also go rafting, canoeing, paragliding, cycling and hiking. The best place to stay is in the tiny village next door, famous for its faience, raw smoked sausages and stewed rabbit – Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

It is best to visit the village of Ferrassières in early July – during the local Lavender Festival, then you will be lucky enough not only to watch how lavender is harvested and processed, but also to master the tricks of obtaining lavender essence yourself. Here you can also look into the Perfume Museum, buy various cosmetic products based on lavender oil and take a bike or walk tour through the fragrant and picturesque lavender fields.

Attractions of Aix-en-Provence, France