There are lots of reasons to visit Aix-en-Provence, the city of 1000 fountains, other than the weather, architecture, cobbled streets of Old Town and great dining options. In Spring 2018, there are some great events taking place that provide a few more reasons to visit.
The Hotel Caumont is one of the jewels of Aix’s museum scene. It was the town’s conservatoire and was recently refurbished to become a private museum (the music school moved to a purpose-built premises a few streets away). It now has a permanent museum about Cézanne as well as one other temporary exhibition, like Picasso. The highlight is really the building though. With its beautifully manicured gardens (great for taking a book to read in) and sumptuous-looking restaurant, the bricks and mortar of this 18th century mansion are on show here. Throughout Spring 2018 there are operatic dinners, where you can dine to live opera. Or maybe have a little jazz on the terrace on Saturday nights.
Participate in C’est Sud Cultural Festival, for free
C’est Sud offers a huge range of different events throughout the streets and buildings of Aix-en-Provence in dance, theatre, music, arts, crafts, circus and singing. It takes place over three days during the weekend of Pentecost (the seventh Sunday after Easter), and unlike other festivals, it’s completely free. It offers a great atmosphere and because there’s so much going on, there’s something for everyone.
Romeo and Juliette at the Ballet Preljocaj
Aix-en-Provence has one of the most renowned ballet companies — the Ballet Preljocaj. This Spring, among other things, it’s performing Romeo and Juliette.
From March 26 to April 8, Aix-en-Provence will play host to all the big names in classical music for its annual Easter Festival. Both French and Russian National Orchestras and the London Symphony Orchestra lead the programme which includes Bach, Debussy and Mozart.
Picasso Picabia exhibition at the Musée Granet
From June 9 to September 23, the Musée Granet is celebrating two modernist painters — Picasso, who lived along the French Riviera, and Francis Picabia. The exhibition is part of the much wider Picasso Mediterranée exhibition that is taking place from 2017 to 2019 across 60 different institutions celebrating Picasso’s work.
Aix-en-Provence really goes to town for its annual Easter Parade. Since its inception in 2007, it takes a different theme each year, like the films of Tim Burton. All the kids (and sometimes the adults) dress up and follow the parade and floats around town. Congregate on the Cours Mirabeau, Aix’s much-loved boulevard on April 30 for the fun.
Party in the streets for Fête de la Musique
On June 21 every year there is one big street party in France. Across the country, big cities and small towns allow music on the streets and everyone comes out to dance to buskers and big-name DJs with huge sound sets. Aix-en-Provence is a good choice to celebrate Fête de la Musique because of its beautiful old town, impressive lighting and cobbled streets. Expect everyone to come out and to stay out until the early hours. It’s the one day of the year when a drinking night in France might become a little more debauched, more like northern European cities.
During Spring 2018, Aix-en-Provence is undergoing huge infrastructural work and nearly every road or pavement is undergoing some kind of building work. Some of this is interesting — archaeologists are painstakingly mapping ruins uncovered in one of the main Town Squares, Place des Precheurs, before they pave over everything. Others can be irritating to people looking for parking or quick routes around the city. It’s best to use the Park and Ride schemes around town.