The Best Things to See and Do in Aix-en-Provence, France

| © Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
Shyla Watson

Aix-en-Provence is a little college town in Southern France, but you don’t have to be a student to enjoy your time there. The provincial area is the perfect getaway from the bustling city – walk around peaceful gardens, appreciate work in art galleries, and shop at local markets. Read our list to discover the best things to do and see in Aix-en-Provence.

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1. Musée Granet

France, Bouches du Rhone, Aix en Provence, Musee Granet, paintings and visitors
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

First opened in 1838, this classic museum houses an eclectic selection of over 12,000 works, featuring a neoclassical sculpture collection, an American exhibition with pop art works, and original pieces from Paul Cézanne and Picasso. Though the museum gets roughly 100,000 visitors each year, there are never crowds of people or long lines. It’s a small space and not as overwhelming as most museums, so you can spend an afternoon there, see the museum’s entire collection, and then grab a nice dinner in town.

2. Le Cours Mirabeau


M13XGR France, Bouches du Rhone, Aix en Provence, Cours Mirabeau, Maurel de Ponteves Mansion house of the middle of the 17th century, atlantes
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

This picturesque boulevard is perfect for an afternoon stroll or scenic evening out. The street is lined by towering trees, which create a beautiful tunnel effect, and along the street are countless cafes, restaurants, and shops to peruse. There’s also a small street market that takes place weekly, which brings the community together in a quaint, small-town way. Visit in the evening for a lively atmosphere.

3. Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur d'Aix-en-Provence


The Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur d’Aix-en-Provence is an important national monument in France. Come, sit, and reflect in this beautiful cathedral while enjoying the art that surrounds you. The architecture includes Gothic and Neo-gothic influences, with Roman columns, so be sure to visit the cloister, the baptistery and the bell tower, or simply gaze at the carved doors. Though the interior is decorated with beautiful art, it isn’t overwhelming, and the decor is quite simple in comparison to other famous churches. Sit and enjoy the peace and quiet in a lovely atmosphere, or attend a service to hear music from the organ.

4. Atelier Cézanne


Paul Cezannes last studio at Les Lauves, Aix-en-Provence, where the artist painted many of his best-known paintings

Famous 19th century post-impressionist painter Paul Cézanne lived and worked in Aix-en-Provence as he was native to the area, and today, this is a source of pride for the city. The world-renowned artist has had pieces displayed in the most famous museums around the world. The Atelier Cézanne is the studio in Aix where he created a majority of his works. The room has more or less been left untouched, so visitors can get a true idea of what his working life was like before he died. It’s the perfect place for anyone who enjoys art but wants to see something more intimate than a museum.

5. Musée Estienne de Saint Jean


Established in a 17th century French mansion, this museum houses the history and traditions of Aix. Visitors can see furniture, figurines, ceramics, and more archaic objects that were once part of modern culture. The house itself is an example of rich and beautiful aristocratic life – notice the painted entrance dome and grand staircase. The museum is the epicenter of Aix culture, so it’s a must see for anyone visiting or looking to learn more about the famous region.

6. Caumont Centre d’Art


Each room in this exquisite Aix hotel has recently been restored, and now houses beautiful paintings and other lovely art pieces. The museum sits between a courtyard and a garden, both of which are just as much worth as a visit as the museum itself. The exterior is designed in the classical French style and is fairly simple, but the interior is decorated in the styles preferred by Louis XV. Come and see stunning photographs, drawings, paintings, and even a short film.

7. Place de l’Hôtel de Ville


Street cafe in the Place de lHotel de Ville with the Town Hall behind, Aix en Provence, France
© Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo

There is a lot happening in this bustling city square, and you can start your adventures at the town hall, Place de l’Hôtel de Ville. The magnificent building was erected in the 15th century and seats prominent government officials, and most days, the facility is open for visitors to enjoy the property. Built in the 14th century, adjacent to the hôtel, stands a tall clock tower. In the center of the square sits a fountain, with a Roman column topped with a globe encased in golden laurel, in the middle. Finally, there is a corn exchange, a building that was utilized by merchants and farmers for trading. It has since been converted to a post office, but still is a historic site worth seeing.

8. Le Terrain des Peintres


Featuring views of the mount Saint Victoire, this lovely park was the inspiration for many of Paul Cézanne’s works. Hoping to get inspired, many locals will set up at the park to paint or sketch the breathtaking landscape. For those without an artistic inclination, the park is also a choice location to take a walk on a sunny day or have a picnic in the afternoon.

9. Le Grand Marché

Farmers' Market, Market

This open-air market is the largest in Aix. Stop by the grand market, which is located in the Cours Mirabeau area three days a week, for a fantastic shopping experience. Since this is partially a farmers’ market, pick up fresh fruits and vegetables for the week. There is also a market to purchase fresh flowers, garments and clothing, and other artisan goods. You never know what you’ll find, and there’s always a bargain waiting around the corner. Enjoy a nice outdoor activity that won’t break the bank.

10. Vasarely Foundation


Vasarely Foundation / Fondation Vasarely Museum, Aix-en-Provence, Provence, France, Europe
© Martin Thomas Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

This quirky museum displays massive pieces of eye-catching art by Victor Vasarely. The impressive collection of modern and optical art sits in an unusual, though exceptional, gallery. The pieces come in many forms of media, ranging from tapestries to 3D images. The museum is rarely crowded, so there’s a good chance that you can get a personal tour of the premises from a foundation member. Though it’s in Aix, it’s a little out of the way from the city center, so be sure to plan other fun activities in the area as well.

Interested in exploring more of Europe? Head to Italy and join our premium 10-day Northern Italy tour, visiting Rome, Florence and Milan – to name a few. Alternately, pop down to Barcelona and experience the artistic side of the city on our four-day Mini Trip.

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