I read somewhere that Aix-en-Provence has over 1000 fountains. After exploring the city for one week in June, I can certainly believe it. Fountains of all shapes and sizes seem to be everywhere which is a large part of what makes this small city in the south east of France so charming! Walking through Aix-en-Provence reminds me of the Marion Cotillard romantic film “A Good Year.” With outdoor restaurants, cobblestone plazas, and the scent of lavender in the streets, Aix-en-Provence has something for everyone.
Take a walk through this beautiful city with me and explore sixteen of my favorite magical sites!
Don’t miss the best of southern France:
1. Place D’Albertas
Place D’Albertas is a small square in the centre ville of Aix that was created in 1741 by Jean-Baptiste d’Albertas, a man who lived across the street. Completed over the course of six years, the place was designed by aixois architect Laurent Vallon, and inspired by the grand plazas of Paris. Nearly 200 years later, in 1912, the students of the school of Arts & Métiers designed and constructed the central fountain. Today, it’s a quiet area frequented by tourists and locals alike who come to relax and admire the 18th century architecture.
2. Paul Cézanne’s Former Studio
You can walk inside the studio Cézanne used in his last years, where many objects have remained as he left them. It’s a quick 20 minute walk north of the centre ville in Aix-en-Provence.
3. Café Saint Honoré
I stumbled upon this café by chance and found it to be the quintessential southern French café: Round tables, wicker chairs and umbrellas to shade you from the sun as you eat your croissant and coffee…
4. Pavillon de Vendôme
A beautiful French garden precedes this lovely mansion designed by Pierre Pavillon and completed in 1667. The mansion was a home, a Catholic boarding school, and an art studio before being purchased by Swiss art collector Henri Dobler, who donated it to the city of Aix-en-Provence after his death. Today it’s a museum housing temporary art exhibitions.
5. Rue Fernand Dol
I found this street just south of the centre ville to be particularly charming with its pastel façades and white wooden doors. Be sure to visit the agnès b. and Confiserie Bremond shops nearby.
6. Pâtisserie Weibel
This lovely bakery certainly caught my eye with a muted grey façade and turquoise tables lining the exterior. I enjoyed one of the best almond croissants I’ve ever had here, and highly recommend a visit!
7. Jas de Bouffan
The former country home of painter Cézanne during the late 19th century is now open to the public. With a sprawling grass lawn, enormously tall trees and even a family of ducks, Jas de Bouffan is a charming countryside retreat just steps away from the bustling city center.
8. Forum des Cardeurs
An open square filled with restaurants, cafés and shops, the Forum des Cardeurs is a lovely city square to have lunch and people watch. Surprisingly, the plaza only dates to 1963 when it was created.
9. Cathedral Saint Sauveur
This beautiful Aix Cathedral has elements dating back to the 6th century! It’s considered a national monument in France.
10. Place de la Mairie
Pick up some souvenirs from Place de la Mairie, the town hall city square where you can find all sorts of local goods from Provence like soap and lavender!
11. Les Deux Garçons
Have a drink at Les Deux Garçons, located on the famous Cours Mirabeau. Cézanne came here many afternoons with his friends while growing up in Aix.
12. The Fountains
They shouldn’t be hard to find because they are pretty much everywhere!
13. The Cave à Vin Mural
I happened to come across this lovely mural on the corner of Rue Lieutaud and Rue des Cordeliers, showing a man in a wine shop, with a woman walking her French bulldog outside! Fun fact: mur means “wall” in French…
14. Le Garde Manger
This was probably my favorite coffee shop that I visited in Aix. Le Garde Manger has tons of sweets and pastries, along with fresh juices, coffee and tea! Go upstairs to see their well designed lounge and get some sun with a great view on their rooftop terrace!
15. The Supermarket & Your Local Bakery
Nothing better than some rosé and a fruit tart when you get home after a long day of exploring Aix! The region is known for their rosé so be sure to pick up a locally made bottle.
16. Bibliothèque Méjanes (Cité du livre)
So, my travel nightmare came true. Unfortunately, I didn’t know this incredibly unique library was in Aix-en-Provence until after I left, so I didn’t get a chance to visit. Don’t make my mistake, allez! :)