Aix-en-Provence Travel Guide

France  #2 in Best Places to Visit in France
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Best Things To Do in Aix-en-Provence

In Aix, you can stroll along the Cours Mirabeau, browse through the markets and sip lattes and people watch in cafes. You can also head to a museum or two — the Musée Granet hangs a few Cézannes; speaking of which, you can also visit his studio or climb one of his biggest inspirations, Mont Sainte-Victoire. And you must spend some time shopping — or at least window-shopping — at some of Aix's boutiques, which are scattered in both old and new towns.  

How we rank Things to Do
  • #1
    Le Grand Marche
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    #1 in Aix-en-Provence
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    While in Aix-en-Provence, you must visit a provincial market. And Le Grand Marché refers to the many markets that flood the city's squares: You'll find fresh food and sweet treats in Place des Prêcheurs and Place de la Madeleine, gorgeous garments in the clothing market on the Cours Mirabeau on Tuesdays and Thursdays (it's around the Palais des Justice on Saturdays), a flea market around the Place de Verdun and a flower market at the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville.

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  • #2
    Cours Mirabeau
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    #2 in Aix-en-Provence
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    This shady boulevard is canopied in trees and punctuated by three lovely fountains. You can take a stroll down the street while admiring the regal buildings that flank its edges, including the Hôtel des Villiers and the Hôtel d'Arbod Jouques. Open-air cafes like Les Deux Garçons and a variety of market vendors also rest along this popular pedestrian corridor. The atmosphere here, on this crossroads of the Quartier Mazarin (or new town) and Villa comtale (old town), is cheery and chic.

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  • #3
    Mont Sainte-Victoire
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    #3 in Aix-en-Provence
    Hiking, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    This mountain inspired quite a few of Cézanne's paintings, since the artist could see its pyramid shape (rising about 10 miles east of Aix) from his house. And it's no wonder why he painted it so much: The mountain's limestone surface reflects light, appearing blue, gray, pink and orange during different times of the year.

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  • #4
    Cathedrale St. Sauveur
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    #4 in Aix-en-Provence
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    An ornate religious site, this cathedral doesn't have just one architectural identity — but that's what makes it special. Originally raised in the 5th century, the cathedral's construction continued until the 18th century, likely accounting for the variety in design. The church boasts a mishmash of Roman, Gothic, Baroque and Merovingian styles that can be seen in its facades, interior and decor.

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  • #5
    Fondation Vasarely
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    #5 in Aix-en-Provence
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Just a few miles west of the city center, Fondation Vasarely is a museum housed in its own masterpiece (16 interconnected hexagons) filled with Victor Vasarely's optical art. This Hungarian-born French artist is known as the father of this style — a method that combines graphic art with optical illusion, often playing with patterns, lines, shadows and light. The vibrant and colorful art installations captivate both adults and children alike. At the foundation, you can experience much of his work in the Tapestries, Kinetic and Planetary Folklore rooms.

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  • #6
    Atelier Cezanne
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    #6 in Aix-en-Provence
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    For a little more than €5 EUR (or about $7 USD), you can tour Paul Cézanne's studio. Some of this artist's most famous works were painted here, including Les Grandes Baigneuses (The Large Bathers) and La Femme à la Cafétière (The Woman with the Coffee Pot); you can even see the tin coffee pot that inspired the latter.

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  • #7
    Camp des Milles
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    #7 in Aix-en-Provence
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    A former tile factory, Camp des Milles opened in September 1939 as a French internment and deportation camp during World War II. Between 1939 and 1942, thousands of political dissidents, emigrants and Jews were held as prisoners with many being sent on to extermination camps. Today, this site has been restored and reopened as a Holocaust memorial. Inside, a large museum offers educational and interactive displays on the history of Camp des Milles. One feature that distinguishes this internment camp from others is the number of artists and scholars who were held here. It's estimated more than 400 pieces of artwork and literature were created at Camp des Milles and several drawings, paintings and graffiti can still be seen on the walls today. An example is the Room of Murals, a separate building that was once a dining room for guards, which is filled with colorful scenes created by the imprisoned.

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  • #8
    Pavilion de Vendôme
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    #8 in Aix-en-Provence
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums, Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums, Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Described by many travelers as an oasis within the city's limits, Pavilion de Vendôme is a charming villa surrounded by verdant gardens. The grandiose baroque building was constructed in 1665 as a retreat for the Duke of Vendome, Louis de Mercoeur, and his mistress. Its ornately decorated façade is said to be inspired by the beauty of the duke's mistress, La Belle du Canet. In the 18th century, the house was expanded, refurnished and refurbished with antique furniture and portraits of the period.

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  • #9
    Musée Granet
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    #9 in Aix-en-Provence
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Inside the Musée Granet, you'll find works by Van Dyck, Puget and, of course, Cézanne. You'll also see dozens of paintings by the museum's namesake, the French artist François Marius Granet. The building is interesting as well, as it was the former priory of the 17th-century Knights of Malta.

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  • #10
    Thermes Sextius
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    #10 in Aix-en-Provence
    Natural Wonders, Spas
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Spas
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you're a spa junkie, you'll definitely want to pay a visit to the Thermes Sextius. This luxurious spa is built on top of the thermal baths of Aquae Sextiae, which were discovered by the Romans in the 18th century. Visitors can view the excavated remains beneath the lobby's glass floor. These natural spring waters have long been an Aix staple — famous figures Pablo Picasso and Winston Churchill have even experienced these soothing waters. These days, you can enjoy a soak in the baths, as well as an Aroma Purifying Treatment or a Nuxe Body Slimming Massage, among other spa treatments. While some travelers mentioned the high prices that come along with the notoriety, others said the experience was other-worldly. "The water treatments all felt divine," one TripAdvisor user said. Once you've completed a treatment, continue your rejuvenation by kicking back in the relaxation area and sipping on your choice of herbal tea.

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  • #11
    Les Deux Garcons
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    #11 in Aix-en-Provence
    Cafes
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Cafes
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    A popular brasserie, located right on Cours Mirabeau, Les Deux Garçons has served coffee to everyone from Paul Cézanne to Emile Zola. It's been a prominent place for artists and intellectuals since its founding in 1792, but some say the food quality and service have deteriorated recently. However, no one can dispute its prime location in a hip area of Aix. You can choose to lounge outside and watch passers-by or enjoy your café-au-lait inside, where you'll be transported back in time by the ornate mural and gilt decor.

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