Aix-en-Provence, cultural city break
Cézanne's studio is your first window into this weekend before you head off to take a tour of the more iconic sites in Aix such as the Pavillon Vendôme and the tapestry museum. There's a wonderful mix of the old and new as you alternate between the Fondation Vasarely, the sumptuous town houses in the Mazarin district (Caumont, Granet, Gallifet) and the peace and calm around the fountain on Place d'Albertas. In between art museums, enjoy a feast for the eyes and the palate at Mickaël Féval, a real treat for the senses!
Day 1 – Culture in the heart of Aix-en-Provence
Begin your cultural tour of Aix-en-Provence at Cézanne's studio. This visit should take you through to lunchtime when we recommend a table at Fanny's for local, reasonably priced cuisine. Then head to Place d'Albertas and its fountain to relax until your meal goes down. Next on the list is the Musée des Tapisseries, the tapestry museum set inside the Palais de l’Archevêché. Continue your cultural tour at Aix Cathedral. Bring a lovely day to a close by visiting the historic pavilion where the Duke of Vendôme used to take his lover La Belle du Cannet.
Day 2 - Aix's museums and art centres
Your second day in Aix-en-Provence starts with a visit to the Granet Museum. To quench your thirst for the arts even more you only need to go 200 metres further to the Hôtel de Gallifet. Hidden away on Rue Espariat, Le Formal is your destination for lunch which will appeal to lovers of creative fine dining. Lunch break over, make your way to the Caumont Arts Centre not far from Cours Mirabeau. A perfect end to your weekend tour of Aix is the Fondation Vasarely, one of the most striking landmarks of your entire visit!
- Devouring calisson sweets, an Aix speciality made from almond and candied melon
- Catching a show or concert at the Grand Théâtre de Provence or contemporary ballet at the Pavillon Noir
- Visiting places that once inspired the 'great' Paul Cézanne
- Seeing the sun reflecting on the Fondation Vasarely, an extraordinary light show on a building worthy of a sci-fi film
The best time to visit
- In summer for the opera festival at the Palais de l’Archevêché (around 1,300 seats) or the international classical music festival, the Nuits Pianistiques
- Early September for the Mistral Festival at Parc Jourdan (aioli tastings, folk band, traditional dancing)
- Towards the end of the year for the famous Christmas market, the '13 Desserts' market and nativity scenes with santons (figurines)
Aix en Provence
All year round
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Essential Saint Rémy - Provençal charm
It's worth devoting an entire day to Saint-Rémy to fully immerse yourself in the tastes and culture of Provence: from wine (Château Romanin) and olive oil (Moulin du Calanquet) to the region's art and history (Saint-Paul de Mausole Monastery and Glanum). In the heart of the Alpilles, the town, put on the map for being an important source of inspiration to Vincent Van Gogh, is replete with treasures. Lovers of old buildings will adore the town centre and ancient ruins. And foodies will be in their element at Les Terrasses de l’Image that serves original, local fare.
Aubagne, in Pagnol country
Pottery and santons aside, Aubagne is also the birth place of French author and film director Marcel Pagnol. Get better acquainted with the cinematic legend by following the Marcel Pagnol 'from Aubagne to La Treille' guided tour or the 'Childhood memories' walking tour. You can also visit the house on Cours Barthélémy where Pagnol was born. And last but not least, the Petit Monde de Marcel Pagnol has recreated cult scenes from his films and novels, from the iconic card game in 'César et Panisse' to the beautiful 'Manon des Sources'.
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.
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