Old Town

Aix en Provence - Site

During your stay in Aix en Provence you will be invited to travel in time. Your steps will take you to an outstanding architectural and cultural heritage. Keep your eyes open: the city's treasures can be seen at every crossroads.

To the north of the city, Bourg Saint Sauveur occupies the site of the ancient Roman city. It extends from the Cathedral to the Clock Tower (Town Hall). A few streets have kept evocative names, such as rue Esquicho Coudo, a narrow passageway dating from the Middle Ages.

The remains of the mediaeval ramparts are visible, at the top of rue Jacques de la Roque (to the right of rue des Guerriers). Further down, on the site of the Roman Sextius Baths, excavations have revealed a Roman thermal pool which you can see at the entrance to the hydrotherapy spa. Opposite the Cathedral, on Place de l'Université, the former Faculty of Law (1409) has been replaced by the Institute of Political Studies (IEP). The Palais de l'Université, rebuilt by Georges Vallon in 1734, proudly announces its official function.

Adjoining the Cathedral, the former palace of the archbishops of Aix en Provence encloses the square created in the mid-18th century (now Place des Martyrs de la Résistance). With their ecclesiastical and political power, these princes of the Church wanted a residence worthy of their rank. The present buildings were constructed between 1650 and 1730, and the gate is attributed to the sculptor Toro.

On the first floor is the Tapestry Museum. Since 1948, the court of the Archbishop's Palace has hosted the main events of the Festival of Lyric Art, held during July.

Rue Gaston de Saporta goes down to the town hall and the belfry. Hôtel Maynier d'Oppède, at No.23, belonged to a famous Parliamentary family. Rebuilt in 1730 by the architect Georges Vallon and the sculptor Chastel, it is now the Institute of French Studies for Foreign Students. Its courtyard is used for concerts in June and July every year.
At No.19 is Hôtel de Châteaurenard, built in 1650. Famous as the house where the young Louis XIV stayed during his visit to Provence in 1660, it has a magnificent staircase, decorated with trompe-l'oeil paintings by Jean Daret.

At No.17 Rue Gaston de Saporta, in Hôtel d’Estienne de Saint Jean built by Vallon (1652-1724), the Museum of Old Aix contains reminders of Aix's past. Further down, past the belfry, you are in the former City of the Counts. The Episcopal City and the City of the Counts were in fact separated by ramparts in the Middle Ages. This is the oldest part of the centre of Aix. The streets are now pedestrian and full of shops, the perfect place for a stroll.

The city's old belfry, the symbol of civic power, straddles the street on Roman bases. It was raised in 1510, and contains an astronomical clock (1661) whose four wooden statues can still be seen: they symbolise the seasons, and appear in turn.

On the square, created in the 18th century, the fountain built by the sculptor Chastel is topped with a Roman column at its centre. It is overlooked by the Town Hall (1655-1670) with its Italian-style frontage, carved wooden doors, and the inner courtyard, whas stood since the 14th century at the foot of the Clock Tower, the city's old belfry with its astronomical clock (1661) on which statues representing the four seasons appear in turn.

On the same square the Corn Exchange, built by the architects Vallon in the 18th century (1759-1761), recalls the importance of the wheat trade at the time. The north frontage is crowned with an allegorical pediment by Chastel, representing the sources of farming prosperity in Provence: the Rhône and Durance rivers. The south side, giving on to Place Richelme, has a wealth of decorative motifs related to the function of the building: fruit, grain and olives. The fountain, also by Chastel, is topped with a Roman column. A fruit and vegetable market is held here every morning.

Behind the town hall is Place des Cardeurs. It was created in 1963 on the site of an insalubrious area, which was the Jewish quarter in the Middle Ages, and is now dotted with the terraces of cafes and restaurants. It is lined with fine, renovated period houses, and enhanced with a fountain created in 1977 by the Aix artist Jean Amado.

Leaving the Town Hall and going down towards Place d’Albertas, you will see Hôtel d'Arbaud (1670) in rue du Maréchal Foch, with its door supported by two Atlases, a frequent theme in the Aix decoration of the 17th and 18th centuries. Further down, at No.13 rue Aude, Hôtel de Peyroneti (1625) with its embossed decor looks just like a palace of the Italian Renaissance.

You now reach Place d’Albertas. This enchanting square was created in 1745 by the Marquis Jean Baptiste d'Albertas, who had the houses opposite his mansion demolished. The vast mansion, altered in 1724, and the square with its Rococo decor, are the work of the Vallons (father and son) who used as their inspiration the style of the royal squares in Paris. In the centre, the fountain with its cast-iron basin dates from 1912.
Next to it is Hôtel Boyer d’Eguilles, built of stone from the Bibémus quarries near Sainte-Victoire mountain. The Natural History Museum is now on the first floor of the building.
You have now reached the Law Courts (Palais de Justice). Formerly the home of the sovereigns of Provence, the Parliament, the Treasury and the Court of Auditors, the old courts were demolished at the close of the 18th century, at the same time as the surrounding district. The architect Ledoux designed a new complex to replace them, but the Revolution prevented its construction. Between 1825 and 1832, Penchaud built the Law Courts and the prison on Ledoux’ foundations. The former prison was converted in 1998 and is an integral part of the new legal centre it now houses the Court of Appeal, the present Palais Monclar.

Just next to it is the Church of La Madeleine, formerly the Preachers' Monastery (Dominicans), which was set up as early as 1274 and entirely rebuilt between 1691 and 1703 by Laurent Vallon who named it the Church of La Madeleine. Within its 19th-century walls this church-museum contains many works by artists who lived in Aix.

Information provided by OT Aix en Provence

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Nearby

  1. La Paillere

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  2. Campanile Aix-en-Provence Sud - Pont de l'Arc

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  3. Les Deux Garçons

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  4. La Cantine

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Where to stay

Paul
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Paul

Aix en Provence

A comfortable hotel situated in town, 150 m away from the spa, from the Palais des festivals and from the picturesque "old aix". A shaded garden for your leisure. Car park "pasteur" 50 metres away. No pets.

Caravelle
Hotel

Caravelle

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In the center of Aix en Provence, closed to the cours mirabeau, 5 minutes far from the railway station and the bus station.

La Maison D'aix
B&B

La Maison D'aix

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La Maison d'Aix : one time there was a private mansion in the heart of Aix-en-Provence replete with refinement, elegance and charm. Restoring life to this private mansion, in which the spirit of the enigmatic Henriette Reboul still drifts, is the challenge which architect Laura Juhen and Louis…

Le Lully
Holiday rental

Le Lully

Aix en Provence

At the heart of Aix en Provence, city of culture, between the Grand Théâtre de Provence (Provence big theatre) and the Théâtre Noir (black theatre) (Preljocaj ballets) designed by the same architect as the MuCEM in Marseille, on a pedestrian esplanade, at only 5 minutes of the old center,…

Villa Jeannette
Holiday rental

Villa Jeannette

Aix en Provence

Let yourself be carried away by the charm of this unique century-old town house, classified 4 * furnished tourism, in hidden in lush greenery, at the bottom of the large landscaped garden and away from the noise of the city yet so close... Imagine diving in the turquoise water of the pool or…

Les Chênes
B&B

Les Chênes

Le Tholonet

A proximité de l'emblématique route Cézanne, tout près du centre ville d'Aix-en-Provence, profitez du calme dans l'environnement naturel exceptionnel du vallon des gardes ! Gourmets ou gastronomes avertis, profitez sur demande des talents culinaires du propriétaire des lieux qui donne avec…

Quality Hôtel & Suites Floridianes
Resort

Quality Hôtel & Suites Floridianes

Aix en Provence

The residence has 64 apartments have been equipped to make your stay perfect: air-conditioning, kitchenette bathroom, satellite TV, direct phone, wake up service, individual safe, linen provided. Possibilities of : baby cot, vacuum cleaner, laundrette. Our hotel service: trilingual receptionists,…

Le Mazet
Holiday rental

Le Mazet

Aix en Provence

Située dans la campagne aixoise, à 1 km du centre ville (parking relais et ligne de bus à 100 m), maison de 85 m² sur 2 niveaux. Au RdC : Salon/séjour. Cuisine indépendante entièrement équipée (LV, MO). Salle de bain. 1 WC indépendant. Buanderie avec (Lave et sèche-linge). A l'étage :…

L'Olympe ADIJ
Hotel

L'Olympe ADIJ

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This small hotel is located south, near the exit of the Pont de l'Arc, a few steps from CREPS. Parking, rooms with shower and toilet, telephone. The restaurant offers three buffets for a full meal. The hotel is not near the center, it requires a car for evenings in town.

Things to do

O Shannon
Bar / café

O Shannon

Aix en Provence

Irish pub

Gago
Fashion / shopping

Gago

Aix en Provence

Ready-to-wear for women

Corpace Joaillerie
Fashion / shopping

Corpace Joaillerie

Aix en Provence

Jewelry

Bijouterie Abonnenc
Craftsman

Bijouterie Abonnenc

Aix en Provence

Makers of costume and fine jewellery, Abonnenc is a family firm where skills are passed on from generation to generation. The craft jewellers' store is in the old town centre of Aix-en-Provence, a few steps away from Cours Mirabeau and 200 metres from the Rotonde car park. At the workshop we…

Promenade de la Torse
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Promenade de la Torse

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A path alongside the Torse stream, between the Cezanne Road and Route de Nice, in the eastern part of the city. The entrance is on the Cezanne Road (Route du Tholonet). The footpath and the fitness trail follow the stream, sometimes crossing it by wooden foot bridges. Some huge plane trees give…

Atelier Polychrome
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Atelier Polychrome

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Atelier Polychrome provides a very wide range of picture frames in all styles - baroque, gold, silver, colourful, contemporary and modern, as well as gilding and patina work made in the workshop. We also provide a wide range of engravings, drawings and watercolours by a wide selection of…

Les Savonneries du Soleil
Fashion / shopping

Les Savonneries du Soleil

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Les Savonneries Du Soleil store is located in the old center of Aix-en-Provence a few steps from the Hotel de Ville's place. The brand offers traditional Marseille soap in all its forms and natural cosmetics.

The Bibemus Quarries
Monument

The Bibemus Quarries

Aix en Provence

The ochre molasse quarries of Bibemus used to supply the pale stone that is so characteristic of numerous monuments in the city of Aix en Provence. Situated between the route du Tholonet and the route de Vauvenargues, Bibémus refers to a rocky plateau, part of which was used as a stone quarry…

Weibel pastry
Greed, Greediness

Weibel pastry

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After learning his trade as a chef with Frantz Riederer, Georges Weibel opened his first cake shop in 1954. Thanks to his recipes and high-quality products, he enjoyed great success in the town for many years. His son, Nicolas, took over from him in 1988 after being promoted to master…

Where to eat

Le Bar 1924 - Le Pigonnet
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Le Bar 1924 - Le Pigonnet

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La Tomate verte
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La Tomate verte

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Le Poivre d'Ane
Food guide restaurant

Le Poivre d'Ane

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On Place des Cardeurs at the heart of the old town, in a dynamic and warm decor with a 1970s feel, the Le Poivre d'Ane restaurant provides diners with an inventive, daring cuisine. A lovely terrace bordered with bamboo awaits you in fine weather so you can make the most of the long summer evenings.

Le Zinc d'Hugo
Food guide restaurant

Le Zinc d'Hugo

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Over a glass of wine selected from dedicated growers, come and discover stylish cuisine made from local produce in a bistrot setting that blends modern and retro. Mediterranean cuisine using ingredients from the market. Wine bar.

Il était une fois
Food guide restaurant

Il était une fois

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Cette table à prix doux nous raconte l'histoire d'un jeune chef méditerranéen : Joan Sampietro, 31 ans, tient son prénom de sa mère espagnole, son nom de son père italien et son registre gastronomique de Sisteron, où il a grandi. L'agneau, forcément, gambade souvent dans les assiettes de…

Molène - Mickaël Féval
Food guide restaurant

Molène - Mickaël Féval

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Pierre Reboul

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Les Deux Garçons
Food guide restaurant

Les Deux Garçons

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Les Deux Garçons Brasserie, in the unique consular setting period of the Hotel De Gantes, is named in memory of the two waiters who had bought it in 1840 . It holds the memory of many past celebrities such as Raimu , Jouvet, Mistinguett , Churchill, Sartre , Picasso, Piaf, Cendrars , Trenet ,…

La Cantine
Food guide restaurant

La Cantine

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Located between the Hôtel de Ville and the Palais de Justice, just two minutes from the Cours Mirabeau, la Cantine's menu features dishes from the South of France, served on the terrace or indoors, at either lunch or dinner. You will find fresh, seasonal produce from Provence, Corsica and Italy,…

Inspirations

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