department: bouches-du-rhÔne (13)
region: provence-alpes cÔte d'azur

Aix-en-Provence is the ancient capital of old Provence, and this 17th-century character still permeates the narrow street and alleyways as much as the splendid main street, the Cours Mirabeau, where noblemen formerly set up house.

This was local-born artist Cézanne's favoured haunt, and where he had a studio, against the backdrop of Mont Sainte Victoire. Today, an outdoor museum has been created in a quarry that the artist often used for inspiration. Not surprisingly, the town has become something of a city of the arts, and the newer part of the town is expanding rapidly and attracting more residents.

© ATOUT FRANCE/Michel Angot

Fountains splash along the Cours Mirabeau, and here, in Les Deux Garcons, Cézanne would meet Emile Zola for coffee and conversation.

The Atelier Paul Cézanne is an obligatory visit for lovers of his work. This was Cézanne’s last studio, an evocative place filled with memorabilia – easel, brushes and pots used by Cézanne – and, if you can feel it, the intimate spirit of a great artist.

The Tapestry Museum (Musée des Tapisseries) is also renowned, and well worth a visit. Children will love the Natural History Museum: its collections total 376.000 specimens. The museum is however best known for its palaeontological collections, primarily dinosaurs.


© ATOUT FRANCE/Michel Angot

A short drive to the south of Aix, the rather industrial town of Gardanne, is the only village ever painted by Cézanne. He lived in Gardanne, with his wife and son, where he found some respite from the irritation his father found with his domestic liaison, which for many years was outside marriage. His apartment in the centre of town today overlooks the lively market, and it was here and in the surrounding countryside that he painted in an innovative and rectangular style that led later artistic authorities to decide that ‘Cubism’ was born in Gardanne.

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Les allées provençales, 300 avenue Giuseppe Verdi, 13 605 AIX EN PROVENCE
Tel: 04 42 161 161