Aix-en-Provence and its painters
Over two days, this tour will take you on a journey around Aix-en-Provence, a major source of inspiration for artists from Cézanne to Vasarely. By exploring the city that gave birth and to and spearheaded Cubism, you'll get to know the artists by visiting the places they lived in and cherished. Also discover up and coming new talent at Gallifet Art Center. Not forgetting a chance to learn all about architectonics at the Fondation Vasarely!
Day 1 – Aix-en-Provence and Cézanne: a guided tour
Begin your first day by getting to know Aix-en-Provence through the eyes of the artist Cézanne. By following the small plaques stamped with the letter C, you'll be led through the landmarks of his lifetime, from his childhood home to St Pierre cemetery where he's buried. Available from April to October, the guided tours last two hours. Of course, you're also free to explore the old centre at your own pace. See sumptuous town houses and pretty fountains before finding a sunny terrace along the Cours Mirabeau
Day 1 – Aix-en-Provence and Cézanne: the Musée Granet
[Fermé jusqu'à nouvel ordre] Musée Granet Place Saint Jean de Malte 13100 Aix en Provence
To get better acquainted with Aix-en-Provence, head to the Granet Museum (inside the Palais de Malte) where an entire room is devoted to the father of modern art and native of Aix. The artworks on display include a painting prefiguring the monumental-in-scale versions of Bathers, a still life he painted at a young age and portraits of Madame Cézanne and the author Zola. There are also some 600 works ranging from primitive art to modern art on display. The audio guide costs €3.
Day 1 – Aix & Cézanne: lunch at Ze Bistro
Molène - Mickaël Féval 31 bis rue Manuel 13100 Aix en Provence
Awarded the Assiette Michelin for its excellent cuisine, Ze Bistro is a restaurant close to Cours Mirabeau that is well worth a detour. The chef Olivier Scola cooks with fresh produce (earning himself the title Master Restaurateur) and has devised a generous menu of 'home made' dishes. The cuisine is inventive and seasonal and looks as sublime as it tastes. Inside, the warm and welcoming colours will make you feel right at home.
Day 1 – Aix-en-Provence and Cézanne: in the artist's studio
[Fermé jusqu'à nouvel ordre] Atelier de Cezanne 9 avenue Paul Cézanne 13090 Aix en Provence
Continue the afternoon by visiting Paul Cézanne's studio on Avenue Cézanne where the artist spent the last four years of his life in retirement but still painting. It is here that he produced his iconic Bathers. Once surrounded by fields, the studio, which still evokes the intimacy of his former work space, contains a large collection of his everyday objects.
Day 1 – Aix & Cézanne: Bibemus Quarries
Carrières de Bibémus 3090 chemin De Bibémus 13100 Aix en Provence
Conclude day one with a trip to the quarries in Bibemus that supplied stone during the 17th and 18th centuries used to construct many of the town's buildings. The once popular ochre stone was later replaced by stone from Rognes. Yet it's this colour, one of the shades which features heavily in Cubist works, that radiates from many of Cézanne's paintings. The artist also painted from a hut in Bibemus. There is a handy bus which takes visitors from the city center to the Trois Bons Dieux car park, the departure point of the special shuttle.
Day 2 – Aix and its painters: Caumont centre d'art
[Fermé jusqu'à nouvel ordre] Hôtel de Caumont - Centre d'Art 3 rue Joseph Cabassol 13100 Aix en Provence
Begin your second day in the Mazarin quarter, specifically at the Caumont Art Centre set in a stunning town house dating from the 17th century. The property still has many features intact, including the carriage gate, the wrought-iron balcony railing and the handrail which are all protected by the government's historic heritage programme. You can also take a tour of the interior and watch the film about Cézanne's life in Aix, not to mention visit any of the exhibitions on show. End your tour by having a coffee on the terrace overlooking the French formal garden.
Day 2 – Aix and its painters: Gallifet Art Center
[ Fermé jusqu'à nouvel ordre ] Hôtel de Gallifet 52 rue Cardinale 13100 Aix en Provence
There is another magnificent example of a town house just moments from the Caumont Art Centre. Built in the 18th century from stone excavated from the Bibemus Quarries, Gallifet is dedicated to contemporary art. Legend has it that Cézanne was influenced by the sun shining on the stone. Through the year, this atypical venue with its rows of sky-blue shutters hosts exhibitions, festivals and screenings. At tea time, head to Monsieur Chou patisserie for one of their choux pastry specialities.
Day 2 – Aix and its painters: fancy dining at Côté Cour
Côté Cour 19 cours Mirabeau 13100 Aix en Provence
Close to Cours Mirabeau, book a table at Côté Cour, the Baroque-modern style restaurant run by chef Ronan Kernen, once a contestant on the TV cooking competition Top Chef. A natural performer, he strives to create surprisingly original dishes such as his sword fish served with a garlic yoghurt sauce. Gault&Millau, Assiette Michelin and Table13... this confidently creative fine dining restaurant already has a number of impressive accolades under its belt.
Day 2 – Aix and its painters: the Fondation Vasarely
[ Fermé jusqu'à nouvel ordre ] Fondation Vasarely CS 50490 1 avenue Marcel Pagnol 13096 Aix en Provence
Now your tour of Aix is coming to a close end on a high note by taking an after-dinner stroll to the Fondation Vasarely, a mind-blowing sequence of interconnected metallic cubes housing an art museum. The lumino-kinetic building designed by the artist Victor Vasarely himself is a sight to behold. Resembling a collection of building blocks, the modular structure is made of steel, ceramic and even silk-screen printed vitreous enamel. A feat of architecture and Historic Monument that needs to be seen to be believed!
- Following in the footsteps of Cézanne by taking a guided tour around the town
- Browsing the vibrant stalls at the daily markets
- Tasting calisson sweets, delicious morsels made from marzipan and orange blossom
- Seeing the amazing contrast between the classical architecture using Bibemus stone and the contemporary Fondation Vasarely building
- Visiting the places where Cézanne expressed his creative genius
The best time to visit
- In April-May to attend the Rencontres du 9e Art, Aix's comic book festival
- In summer to attend the Thursday evening jazz concerts at Gallifet Art Center and the opera festival
- In December to experience the magic of one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Provence
By public transport, Personal vehicle
Aix en Provence
All year round
Discover other itineraries
The Mediterranean, from beach to creek
Do you love the seaside and the great outdoors? Wild countryside bathed in sunlight? Then this tour was made for you! Over three days, take a tour of unspoilt places that have earned Provence's coastline such a fantastic reputation. Begin at the immaculate and practically deserted Camargue beach before continuing your trip with an invigorating stroll around the Côte Bleue Marine Park. Then cap off your long weekend between Marseille, Cassis and La Ciotat with a tour of the calanques (creeks) including the lovely and secluded En-Vau. A fresh breath of sea air!
Aix-en-Provence, wine and gastronomy – exploring the Durance
Aix-en-Provence is a city of art, a city surrounded by the sea and salt-water lagoons, but it is also a city shaped by the land. Its vineyards, olive oil and local specialities are all a testament to this. Discover the secret to chocolate-making at Chocolaterie Puyricard and head off to meet passionate winegrowers. The terrace at La Flambée du Lubéron on the banks of the Durance will make a perfect spot for lunch! Make sure you don't miss Château Paradis in Puy-Sainte-Réparade before setting off to Jouques where you'll get to visit three exceptional estates (Château Revelette, Domaine la Chapelle Saint-Bacchi and Domaine Villemus) which all promote organic wine production.
Arles, cultural city break ancient and modern
Arles is an oasis of antiquity with its archaeology museum, Roman amphitheatre and the long-condemned ancient cryptoporticus. You'll travel back to the Middle Ages with a visit to the Church of St. Trophime and Montmajour Abbey that affords fantastic views all around. At the Fondation Van Gogh, learn about the painter's work and his influence on the art world, while the Réattu gives you an insight into 19th and 20th century art history. Don't forget to stop for lunch (we recommend J.L Rabanel) and follow that with more culture at the Actes Sud centre.
Happiness is in the lavender field!
This sport (yes, Pétanque is a sport, but we'll talk about that later) is an intrinsic part of life in Marseille and has been from generation to generation!
Every quarter has its own boules court and/or boules association, including, of course, a watering hole...
Francis lived happily close beside his tree...
Picked ripe from the tree, figs are simply to die for. They can also be scattered on trays and left to dry in the sun for 3 days: "That's the best way to keep your figs all winter – we serve figs at Christmas as one of Provence's famous 13 Desserts," smiles Jacqueline Honoré.