The Romans called Aix-en-Provence, Aquae Sextiae means 'The Waters of Sextius'. They installed their Roman baths using natural water sources. There are fountains of different shapes and sizes everywhere in Aix en Provence; the largest and popular fountain is on the Cours Mirabeau. The city also has several tourist destinations that attract thousands of visitors every year.
Tour to Aix-en-Provence can be divided into five parts: the old town, Villeneuve, around the Cours Mirabeau, Mazarin quarter, and around the town centre. Discover the treasures of the city by just walking around these scenic areas offering breathtaking tourist spots full of cafes, restaurants, etc.
Vieil Aix (Old Town)
The top visited place of Aix-en-Provence is Old Town with narrow semi-pedestrian streets and a square. These bustling streets are lined with several shops, restaurants, and cafes. Place de l'Hôtel de Ville with a monumental fountain is located at the centre of the Old Town. The Old Town's main square has several tourist destinations like the Saint Sauveur Cathedrale, the Archbishop's Palace, the Clock Tower, the Townhall, the Corn Exchange, Hotel Boyer d'Eguilles, Law Courts, Madeleine Church, and a colourful flower market.
Once a street for horse-drawn coaches created in 1649, the Cours Mirabeau is the most popular, lively and dynamic spot in Aix town. This 440m long and 42m wide street connects the Mazarin quarter (new town) to the south with the old commercial town to the north, and it has beautiful pedestrian sidewalks planted with double rows of plane trees. The famous La Rotonde fountain, the city's most prominent attraction, is situated at one end of the street. The street also comprises three fountains, several cafes, and elegant mansions dating from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.
Fontaine de la Rotonde
Fountain de la Rotonde is the giant fountain in the city. Erected in 1860, it was little neglected in the past. But after renovations, the bronze lions, striking manes, and the three pale and elegant statues of the fountain attract the crowd. The plentiful underground resources of the city are used for this fountain. At night, the area gets crowded to enjoy the beauty and peace of the surroundings.
Address: Place du Général de Gaulle, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
Quartier Mazarin (Mazarin Quarter)
Mazarin Quarter was designed by Archbishop Mazarin, brother of the Cardinal, in the 17th century. Gradually the venue became the preferred home of the aristocracy of Aix. The quarter is developed around the two main areas, namely Rue Cardinale and Rue du 4 Septembre. The square has many private mansions and hotels and is a fabulous tourist spot embracing the culture of Aix. At the centre of the square, there is a Place des Quatre Dauphins with the Fountain des Quatre Dauphins. The fountain features sculptures of four dolphins spouting water.
Hotel de Ville
The Hotel de Ville is a building with classical and Italian-style decorations. It was built by Pierre Pavillon and Jean-Claude Rambot, sculptors and architects, from 1655 to 1670. The building has a beautiful wrought-iron entrance and staircase of honour that leads to the council room. It has elegantly decorated with fine woodwork and tapestries. A clock tower erected in 1510 is also situated here. The square of this building is famous as place de l'Hotel de Ville, which offers some picturesque views of the town.
Address: Place de l'Hôtel de ville, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
Photo Credit: PD Photo
Halle aux Grains
Inspired by Italian architecture, this building was founded between 1759 and 1761. The town architect George Vallon planned this building. A sculpture by Chastel on the north side represents the Rhone and the Durance Rivers which are two primary sources of Provence's prosperity. The south side features Place Richelme with its typical Provencal market decorated with fruits, olives, and cereals. It is a symbol for the trade of wheat and cereals in Provence.
Address: 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
Le Palais De Justice
Le Palais De Justice, i.e. the Law Courts, was founded on the site of the former Palace of the Sovereign Counts. This former palace was used as the parliament in the 16th century. It was rebuilt in 1832. The square of Law courts is a place for flea and antique markets held three times a week.
Situated in the north in the medieval part of Aix, the Cathedrale Saint-Sauveur symbolises all architectural styles from the 5th to the 17th centuries. Built on the site of a former Roman forum and an adjacent basilica, it is the witness of Christianity that existed in Aix-en-Provence since the year 408. It has an elegantly decorated Gothic style portal with doors carved in walnut, the interior with tapestries of 16th century, and a 15th century triptych showing King Rene and his wife on the side panels. It also has a Merovingian baptistery and its renaissance dome, which is supported by original Roman columns.
Address: 34 Place des Martyrs-de-la-Résistance, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
The Thermes Sextius
Next to the Tourreluque Tower built in the 14th century, the present building of Thermes Sextius is situated on the site of the Roman baths of Sextius. Excavations carried out at this place have exposed a Roman thermal bath which can be seen from the entrance of the new thermal complex.
In 1980, Eglise Saint-Jean-de-Malte, the command centre, was established by the military order of the Hospitaliers de St-Jean-de-Jerusalem. It is situated on the northern edge of the town between the Mazarin district and the Cours Mirabeau. After alterations and renovations in 1272 and 1646, it was converted into a church. The arrow shape of the bell tower connects it with the architectural style of the Popes of Avignon.
Address: 24 Rue d'Italie, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
La Place De La Maitie
The famous town hall, the clock tower is situated at this square. The town hall has a fine Facade in the Italian style, carved wooden doors, and an inner court.
L'église de la Madeleine
L'église de la Madeleine, i.e. Madeleine church, is a 17th-century building that offers many religious paintings such as the Altarpiece of the Annunciation (1444).
Once the King's gardens, the area of Villeneuve is situated opposite to the Law Courts, it was the key spot for an urbanisation process at the end of the 16th century. It is famous for its fabulous mansions with richly decorated facades dating from 1590 to the 17th century. The famous places of Villeneuve include Hotel de Carces, the Hotel de Maliverny, Panisse-Panis with rocaille decor dating from 1739, Hotel de Lestang-Parade, Hotel de Grimaldi-Régusse etc.
The Archbishop's Palace
Archbishop's Palace was built at the far end of the square during 1650-1730. This palace was the former residence of the Archbishops of Aix. Decorated with an elegant Regency door, it hosts the International Festival of Lyric Art every year.
Situated 3km to the north of the old town, in the direction of Puyricard, this place was the capital of Salyens, stormed by Sextius in 123BC. The excavations carried out in 1946 traced an advanced civilisation of Aix. The site has uncovered remains of shops, warehouses, and workshops laid out along a rectangular street pattern.
St Sauveur Cathedral
It is a fine example of every architectural style that existed from the 5th to the 17th century.
Place des Trois-Ormeaux
The venue is famous for its 17th century fountain built on the site of a well.
The Hotel De Caumont
Built during 1715 and 1742 under the direction of Georges Vallon and by the Marquis de Cabanes, who was president of the National Audit Office, the Hotel De Caumont now houses a Darius Milhaud Conservatory of music and dance.
La Place Des Cardeurs
In the Middle Ages, it was the Jewish quarter and now lined with numerous restaurants and cafes.