At just 30 minutes from Marseilles, Aix-en-Provence radiates artistic elegance. The hometown of Paul Cézanne and his friend, the writer Emile Zola, Aix-en-Provence enjoys an idyllic Mediterranean setting and a lively student-led atmosphere.
Attracted by its springs, the Romans founded Aix-en-Provence in 122 AD. You can still see the spring water flowing forth at the foutains in the Cours Mirabeau. This avenue known as the "Champs-Elysées of the South" is bordered by buzzing cafes and pretty 17th and 18th century hôtel particuliers. The Granet Museum, which has taken up residence in an old priory which formerly belonged to the Knights of Malta is dedicated to the visual arts. You'll find work there by artists as illustrious as Cézanne, Picasso, Fernand Léger, Matisse and Giacometti.
The Vasarely Foundation is another hotspot for the arts, but here you'll find the art is on the move: this place is all about kinetic art and architecture.
Naturally, there is a festival of the arts here in Aix-en-Provence: Le Smart: Mediterranean Contemporary and Abrstract Art Fair.
Travel to Aix-en-Provence and immerse yourself in the world of art, and that of one artist in particular, the "father of modern painting": Paul Cézanne. In Paul Cézanne's Sudio, you'll come face to face with the artist's inspiration.
Get inspired yourself and head for Mont Saint Victoire (15 kilometres from Aix-en-Provence), with the family. This hill was painted many times by Cézanne, and you can follow a route which leads you "in the footsteps of Cézanne": either on foot of by bicycle.
You'll find the traditional and speciality shops in Aix-en-Provence filled with handmade artisan products. Amongst them, you'll find traditional, handmade figures for the Christmas crib scene.
Take home the flavours of Provence with a some herbs: the famous blend of herbes de Provence; some lavander, or perhaps some Calissons d'Aix, a local sweet made from almonds, sugar and candied melon, iced with varying fruit flavours.
All kinds of expression have their place in Aix-en-Provence: in June, you can enjoy electronic music and digital art at the Seconde Nature festival. In July, it's a more classical season, with opera, ballet and classical music concerts at the Aix-en-Provence Festival of Lyric Music. Enjoy the various sounds of Provence, including the crickets chirping in the olive trees, in this charming and authentic corner of the south of France.
De gare à gare