Not to be missed - Cruise
What can you do in a day in Aix-en-Provence? The answer is in this tour which combines history and Provençal art de vivre. A good place to start is the town's farmers market which sells nothing but fresh produce. Follow this with a tour of the charming old town with its atlantes and decorative wrought-iron before wandering along Cours Mirabeau and its fountains. After stopping for lunch at Mickael Féval's gourmet restaurant, anyone who loves art and architecture should head to the Mazarin district for its sumptuous mansions and the Granet Museum. After that, you'll be ready to escape to the peace and calm around Mount Sainte-Victoire. Let's go!Cruise lovers absolutely cannot miss this essential landmark just 30 minutes from Marseille!
Aix en Provence fruits and vegetables' market
▶ Tous les jours sur la place Richelme ▶ Les mardis, jeudis et samedis place des Prêcheurs et place Verdun 13090 Aix-en-Provence
You will find on the daily Richelme market producers of fruit, vegetables, olive oil, eggs, goat cheese, honey, garlic garlands, herbs and other flavors. The market will be present on the Places Verdun and Prêcheurs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 8.30am till 1pm.
A journey back through time in Aix-en-Provence
Your tour continues in Aix old town, a place dripping in history. There you'll find an assortment of old monuments full of character, such as the clock tower, the former bishops' palace with its gates sculpted by Toro, and Hôtel Boyer d’Eguilles, a town house built with Bibemus stone. Your walk will also lead you to the town hall (Hôtel d'Arbaud) whose entranceway is supported by two atlantes, fine examples of this architectural feature. Next make your way to Place d'Albertas, a delightful little square in the middle of which is a round fountain ornamented with a beautiful cast-iron bowl. A perfect spot to sit and forget the world!
Window shopping, Made in Provence style
Continue on your walking tour by browsing the local stores whose wares range from interior decoration to clothes to cakes. There's certainly no shortage of talented artisans and producers in Aix! Maybe you'll be tempted to buy some trendy gadget from a concept store. Or perhaps you'd prefer take home local souvenirs such as calisson sweets, soaps or santons. From small local designers to big luxury labels, be sure to step out of your comfort zone. Chic, gourmet and inventive, shopping in Aix-en-Provence is never a chore!
Distance from cruise terminal : 30 min
Architecture and fountains along Cours Mirabeau
Cours Mirabeau 13100 Aix-en-Provence
It's really worth taking the time to walk the length of Cours Mirabeau, one of France's great boulevards that stretches for almost half a kilometre. Lined with leafy plane trees, cafés and fountains, it's one of the city's most popular areas. Either side you'll see magnificent 18th century houses adorned with Greek columns and decorative wrought-iron features. Stop outside number 20, the impressive Hôtel de Forbin, a town house made from Bibemus stone, a local, ochre-coloured rock made famous by Cézanne.
Lunch chez Mickael Féval, traditional flavours with a twist
11 Rue Saint jean 13100 Aix-en-Provence
Come lunchtime, we recommend you find a table at Mickael Féval, who has taken the premises over from Michelin-starred chef Pierre Reboul. This fine dining restaurant with its stylish and zen interior serves traditional dishes revised and enhanced with a delicate touch. The menu features suggestions such as creamed Charlotte potatoes and vegetable minestrone as accompaniments to a rack of veal or turbot. Bon appétit!
Get engrossed at the Granet Museum
Place Saint Jean de Malte 13100 Aix-en-Provence
Set in the Palais de Malte on Place Saint-Jean de Malte, the Granet Museum occupies 4,000 square metres and is a must-see for anyone who appreciates painting and sculpture. The museum has an impressive 12,000 masterpieces from the Renaissance to modern art on display, a tour de force of the history of art! Top tip: this Musée de France certified establishment has excellent disabled access.
Pottering around the Mazarin district
Next on the list, give yourself an hour to wander around this opulent area originally built for the noble classes by Archbishop Mazarin in the 17th century. Bookended by Rue Cardinale and Rue du 4 September, this quarter, arranged in a grid pattern, is where you'll find the Gothic-Provençal Saint-Jean de Malte Church and the Caumont Art Centre. When you cross Rue d'Italie, just remember that it follows the same route as the ancient Aurelian Way making it one of the oldest roads in Aix.
A spot of nature at Mount Sainte-Victoire
A visit to Mount Saint-Victoire is a perfect way to wrap up your day. This protected nature area, surrounded by 14 towns and villages, has been designated a 'Great Site of France'. Amidst garrigue, forests and mountains, you might be lucky enough to see a Bonelli's eagle or the blue-headed Common rock thrush. From hiking and biking to climbing and horse-riding, Sainte-Victoire, which so inspired Cézanne, has something to keep visitors of every fitness level occupied.
- Sipping a glass of AOP Coteaux d'Aix wine on a sunny terrace
- Putting yourself in the hands of a local guide to learn all about the city's history
- Learning to make your own calisson sweets by hand
- Pottering along Cours Mirabeau and wetting your fingers in the 18°C water at the moss-covered fountain
- Exploring typical Provençal architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries in detail around Aix's historic old town
The best time to visit
- In spring and in autumn for a chance to admire the seasonal colours at Sainte-Victoire (visits regulated in summer to prevent forest fires)
- July-August to enjoy outdoor screenings at the Instants d’Été film festival
- Mid-December to attend the Bravade Calendale celebrations along Cours Mirabeau, traditional dress optional!
Not to be missed, Cruise
On foot, Personal vehicle
- Visited cities
All year round
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In the Alpilles, Les Baux, Saint-Rémy and more
A day suffices to see the main sites in the Alpilles. Don't miss the ancient town of Glanum with its Roman ruins and Saint-Sixte Chapel. The Carrières de Lumières is worth a visit for its original and captivating audiovisual displays. Then step foot in the legendary Château des Baux and find a table at La Reine Jeanne to enjoy refined dishes made with fresh, local produce. Your tour ends at the oil mills, vital links in the production chain for AOP Baux-de-Provence olive oil.
Essential Aubagne – a city built from clay
Aubagne is your destination for this tour. During the course of the day, you'll get to meet the crafts men and women who transform the local clay into iconic objects. Indeed, Aubagne is renowned for its santons (figurines) and pottery. After a lunch at Le 3 Farfalle, take a tour of the potters and 'santonniers', makers of the region's famous figurines. Aubagne's charming old town is awash with heritage (the clock tower) and Art Deco features. If you're in the museum mood, you have a couple to choose from: Cité de l’Art Santonnier dedicated to figurines and the Foreign Legion Museum. Just 30 minutes from the cruise terminal.
La Trévaresse, abbey and vineyards
The hills of La Trévaresse are an ideal destination for getting to know Bouches-du-Rhône, from its sacred heritage to its sacred vineyards. After tasting honey produced at Rucher Salonais, head to La Roque d’Anthéron where you can visit Silvacane Abbey and Sainte-Anne de Goiron Chapel. Stop for lunch at Mas de Jossyl and then walk it off around Beaulieu and Rognes châteaux. Château de Calavon is along the wine route and is well worth a detour before you visit picturesque Lambesc and end the day at the sumptuous Château de Beaupré.
Celebrated at Candlemas, this traditional Provencal biscuit is also a popular sweet treat all year round
Finer by the year, Provence's rosés are chic, casual and loved by all
Whether it's served hot with a salad, used to crown a cheese platter, or savoured fresh with honey or olive oil, goat's cheese is an absolute culinary must. Provence's dry, sunny climate is perfect for goat breeding -and that's lucky for us!