Aix is a lively town with quite a few things to see and do. Here’s a quick list of the major sights and attractions:
Cours Mirabeau – this main thoroughfare separates the old town to the north and the Quartier Mazarin to the south. Constructed in 1650 along one section of the city’s ramparts, Cours Mirabeau provided a broad promenade,
lined with massive mansions and dotted with beautiful fountains. This was the place for the wealthy and noble elite to be seen. Today, it is a popular place for locals and tourists to stroll under the shade of the plane trees.
Old Town/Medieval Quarter – also known as the Vieille Ville, this neighborhood north of Cours Mirabeau is a labyrinth of narrow walkways
lined with lots of shops and boutiques.
Here you’ll find:
L’hotel de ville – the City Hall located on this site at the base of the Tour de l’horloge (Clock Tower) since the 14th century (the current building dates to the 17th century);
Tour de l’horloge – the 16th century Clock Tower that serves as the gateway to the neighborhood of Saint-Sauveur
where you’ll find remnants of the old city wall, parts of which date back to the 14th century (one section with a covered gallery can be seen near the intersection of Rue des Guerriers and Rue Jacques de la Roque;
and Saint Sauveur Cathedral (Aix Cathedral), built in the Middle Ages on the site of a pre-Roman pagan temple and the Roman Forum.
South of Cours Mirabeau you’ll find:
Quartier Mazarin – a gridded neighborhood home to several elegant mansions and hôtels particuliers, as well as a few interesting fountains. Laid out in the mid-1600s on land belonging to the Order of Malta and later purchased by Monsigneur de Mazarin, this was a neighborhood for the wealthy and the parliamentarians who no longer wanted to live in the close-knit old town.
Church of Saint John of Malta – this 13th century gothic church built to honor the Hospitalers of Saint John of Jerusalem, also known as the Knights of Malta, is located in the Mazarin Quarter. Adjacent to the church is
Musée Granet – this art museum, dedicated to painter Francois Marius Granet, is housed in the former priory of Saint John of Malta. In addition to paintings by Granet, the museum’s collection includes works from the 16th to the 20th century, as well as a handful of paintings by Cézanne.
Throughout the city you’ll find:
Hôtels particuliers – these townhouses, dating primarily from the 17th century, were built as private residences for wealthy noblemen. A few worth mentioning are: l’Hôtel d’Albertas, the former residence of the Marquis d’Albertas,
where you’ll see the Fontaine Place d’Albertas in the courtyard; l’Hôtel Boyer d’Eguilles, built for Magdeleine de Forbin D’Oppede, widow of Parliamentary advisor Vincent D’Eguilles Boyer; and the 18th century l’Hôtel de Caumont, current home of the Caumont Art Centre.
Fountains – the numerous fountains around Aix, such as Fontaine des Quatre Dauphins in the Mazarin Quarter
and Fontaine d’Eau Chaude on the Cours Mirabeau, are a reminder of the city’s origins as a Roman spa town.
In the Steps of Cézanne Walking Tour – as the birthplace of artist Paul Cézanne, Aix has plenty of reminders of his lifetime here. These include the site of his birth, the schools he attended, and his art studio. Note: to see a few of his paintings, visit Musée Granet.
Cultural Forum – a modern area of the city located behind the TI office, this neighborhood features a pedestrian shopping area leading to the cultural arts district.
This is where you’ll find some of the latest architectural projects in Aix, such the Conservatory of Music, Dance and Dramatic Art.