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3 Days in Aix-en-Provence

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With its origins stretching right back to Roman times, Aix-en-Provence is the most handsome town in Provence; a stylish city dissected by the fountains and boulevards of Cours Mirabeau and backed by a labyrinth of streets in its historic old town. It is crammed with stylish boutiques and open-air restaurants as well as the architectural splendors and soft-biscuit stone of its historic cathedral and fine 17th and 18th century mansions. Aix is cultured and sophisticated, channeling the legacy of Paul Cézanne and Emile Zola — both children of the city — as well as being the springboard to adventures in the spectacular landscapes of rural Provence, the glossy seaside towns of the Côte d’Azur, and the untamed Camargue. Following this three-day itinerary will take you straight to the very soul of Provence.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nightlife Seeker
  • Nature Lover
  • Foodie
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Luxury Traveller
  • Trendsetter
  • Like a Local

15 Places

4 City Tips

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Map

15 Places

Day 1

Vieil Aix

Historic Walking Areas

Cathedrale St. Sauveur

Historic Sites, Sacred & Religious Sites

Cours Mirabeau

Points of Interest & Landmarks, Neighbourhoods

Atelier de Cezanne

Historic Sites, History Museums

Montagne Sainte Victoire

Mountains

Le Zinc d'Hugo

Restaurants

Day 2

Pavillon de Vendome

Points of Interest & Landmarks, Gardens, Historic Sites

Granet Museum

Speciality Museums

La Bastide de Marie

Restaurants

Parc Naturel Regional du Luberon

Parks, Nature & Wildlife Areas

Day 3

Arles

Destinations

The Camargue

Nature & Wildlife Areas, National Parks

Aigues-Mortes

Destinations

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

Destinations

A Fleur De Sel chez Alexandra

Restaurants

Sasha H's City Tips

  • Aix is a smart provincial town, not a beach resort, so ladies don’t wander around in swimwear, and gents, don’t go topless.
  • Many restaurants add around 10% service charge, but rounding up to the nearest euro is always appreciated.
  • Aix-en-Provence is a small city, eminently suitable for exploring its meandering streets on foot.
  • Shops in Aix generally open from 9am to 6pm Monday through Saturday.
    Day 1
  • Vieil Aix
    Historic Walking Areas
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    The lovely ancient heart of Aix is a tangle of charming fountain-filled piazzas, ocher-hued town houses and bustling street markets, buzzing with terrace cafés under bright awnings, smart boutiques full of designer clothes and boutique hotels. Its narrow streets were once protected by its crumbling medieval ramparts and now hide a scattering of fine medieval churches and palaces, the city’s cathedral, and the Neo-classical Palais de Justice (Law Court), as well as several small museums.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Vieil Aix gets crammed with day trippers on summer weekends; to experience its seductive magic more or less alone, stay overnight during the week.
    • Make the Tourist Office at 300 avenue Giuseppe Verdi the first stop for walking itineraries focusing on Vieil Aix (Old Town).
    • The money-saving Aix-en-Provence & Aix Region Pass is available in packages of one to three days, and offers free admission to sights as well as free activities.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #4 of 94 things to do in Aix-en-Provence
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • The Old Town when quieter 10/12/2018
    • Charming and delightful city 09/12/2018
    • Vieil Aix
    Address:
    La Rotonde
    13100, Aix-en-Provence
    France
    Phone:
    +33 4 42 16 11 61
    Other:
  • Cathedrale St. Sauveur
    Historic Sites, Sacred & Religious Sites
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    Aix’s central place of worship displays a melange of architectural styles, thanks to it being 5th century in origin but not completed until a thousand years later. Its stands on ground that was once a pagan temple, has a Merovingian baptistery dating from the early 5th century and surrounded by five worn columns, plus its Romanesque and Gothic naves contrast neatly with the contemporary altar and glittering Archbishop’s Throne in the multi-colored choir. Along with a smattering of faded fresco fragments, the cathedral displays a masterly 15th-century triptych by Nicolas Froment and several fine tapestries. The neighboring Archbishop’s Palace adjoins the cathedral via a tranquil Romanesque cloister carved with 12th century figures of the saints.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Always cover arms, shoulders, and legs when visiting the Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur and the churches of Vieil Aix.
    • The cathedral is free to enter and is open daily from 9am to 12pm, and 2pm to 6pm.
    • The Archbishop’s Palace is home to the Musée des Tapisserie (Tapestry Museum) displaying elaborate handmade tapestries, both ancient and modern.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 94 things to do in Aix-en-Provence
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Layer after layer 10/12/2018
    • Worth a visit 09/12/2018
    • Cathedrale St. Sauveur
    Address:
    Place des Martyrs de la Resistance
    Aix-en-Provence
    France
    Phone:
    +33 4 42 23 45 65
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    8:00 AM - 7:00 PM
    Other:
  • Cours Mirabeau
    Points of Interest & Landmarks, Neighbourhoods
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    The pedestrianized main boulevard in Aix dives straight through the center of the city, awash with fountains and monumental sculptures, shaded by plane trees, and hemmed with pavement cafés and bars to the north. The southern side of the street is lined with grand town houses with fancy wrought-iron balconies and lavish carved stonework façades. The street is 440 meters (480 yards) long and was constructed in the 17th century so that the aristocratic residents of Mazarin — Aix’s smartest enclave — would have a place to stroll on sunny afternoons.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nightlife Seeker
    • Foodie
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Choose a bar on the northern, sunny side of Cours Mirabeau to stop for lunch.
    • Les Deux Garçons (53 bis Cours Mirabeau) was the favorite haunt of Expressionist painter Paul Cézanne.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #9 of 94 things to do in Aix-en-Provence
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Impressive 09/12/2018
    • Wide Boulevard 28/11/2018
    • Cours Mirabeau
    Other:
  • Atelier de Cezanne
    Historic Sites, History Museums
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    North of Vieil Aix and perched on a hilltop with a view across to his beloved Montagne Sainte-Victoire, the studio of Paul Cézanne — Expressionist painter and contemporary of Van Gogh — remains much as it was at his death in 1906, standing as a monument to his towering artistic genius. Although none of his paintings hang here — they are all copies — there are touching reminders of the man in his simple furniture and few possessions.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Take the No. 5 bus from la Rotonde Victor Hugo on Cours Mirabeau to the stop at Atelier Cézanne.
    • There are daily guided tours of Cézanne’s studio in English at 4pm and 5pm.
    • A signposted trail traces Cézanne’s life in Aix, from the house where he was born to Saint-Pierre cemetery where he is buried. Get the map at the Tourist Office.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #16 of 94 things to do in Aix-en-Provence
    • Art studio in the woods 25/11/2018
    • Glad we stopped 18/11/2018
    • Atelier de Cezanne
    Address:
    9 avenue Paul Cezanne
    13090, Aix-en-Provence
    France
    Phone:
    +33 4 42 21 06 53
    Hours:
    Mon - Sat
    10:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Montagne Sainte Victoire
    Mountains
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    Late afternoon, make a pilgrimage to the craggy limestone landmark of Sainte-Victoire, which Cézanne painted repeatedly — to the point of obsession — between 1902 and his death from pleurisy in 1906. The south side of the mountain is spectacular at dusk, when its flanks gleam and glitter as the sun disappears behind the mountain. Reaching 1,011 meters (3,317 ft) in height, the peak dominates the skyline around Aix-en-Provence, and by day is a popular spot for hikers and cyclists, with vineyards and sleepy villages spread at its feet.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Montagne Sainte-Victoire is 16.5 km (10.25 miles) east of Aix, and is best visited by hire car or guided tour.
    • Access to the mountain may be restricted by law between June and September because of the risk of winds spreading fire — look for black signs warning that access is banned.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #31 of 2,742 things to do in Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • One with nature 14/10/2018
    • Great place for a mountain bike ride 11/09/2018
    • Montagne Sainte Victoire
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    8:00 AM - 5:30 PM
    Other:
  • Le Zinc d'Hugo
    Restaurants (French, Barbecue, European)
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    Tucked away in an unassuming backstreet, and up there with the best of restaurants in Aix, Le Zinc d'Hugo has long been known for the quality of its Provençal cooking and knowledgeable service. Its simple interior has a few plain tables, wooden beams, and a fire flickering at the end of the room; while the locally sourced charcuterie and cheeses are superb. There’s also a fine wine selection in the subterranean wine bar.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    Tips
    • Le Zinc d'Hugo is open for lunch and supper Tuesday through Saturday. Bookings are recommended.
    • In general the French eat very late in the evening, so don’t be surprised if a 7.30pm reservation means yours is the only occupied table in the restaurant.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #148 of 746 restaurants in Aix-en-Provence
    • Nice and cosy 16/11/2018
    • Great food 23/09/2018
    • Le Zinc d'Hugo
    Address:
    rue Lieutaud
    13100, Aix-en-Provence
    France
    Hours:
    Tue - Sat
    12:00 PM - 2:30 PM
    7:00 PM - 10:30 PM
    Other:
  • Day 2
  • Pavillon de Vendome
    Points of Interest & Landmarks, Gardens, Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    Found on the northern edges of Vieil Aix is the grandest of the grand palaces built during the mid 17th-century; the Vendôme Pavilion is a gorgeous Baroque affair built as an aristocratic love nest. Of soft yellow stone, its has an ornate façade adorned with wrought-iron balconies and an elegant interior that — despite being a little worn in places — showcases the luxurious lifestyles enjoyed by the Provençal upper classes. There’s a majestic curved staircase leading to several rooms decorated with period furniture and wallpapers.

    Good for
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The Pavilion is closed on Monday, but open every other day from 10am to 12.30pm, and 1.30pm to 5pm (it closes an hour later between mid April and mid November).
    • Take time to wander the formal gardens with topiary hedges, ornamental ponds, and rose beds surrounding the palace.
    • Local families bring their kids to run around the small playground and picnic at the weekend.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #13 of 94 things to do in Aix-en-Provence
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Beautiful gardens 20/11/2018
    • Garden was great and provided shade; bad timing the pavillon was closed 08/10/2018
    • Pavillon de Vendome
    Address:
    13 rue de la Molle
    13100, Aix-en-Provence
    France
    Phone:
    +33 4 42 91 88 75
  • Granet Museum
    Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    South of the Cours Mirabeau lies the Mazarin Quarter, an ultra-sophisticated residential area that sprung up in the 17th century and is now Aix’s most desirable address. The little grid of streets is full of Baroque architecture and hidden squares as well as the Musée Granet, which has the best private collection of art in the city. Among its permanent exhibits is Old Masters, a gallery full of classical sculpture and modern work, featuring big names such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Picasso and — of course — Cézanne. There are also frequent, top-class temporary shows.

    Good for
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from midday until 6pm (it opens at 10am from mid July to mid October).
    • The Granet Museum is housed in the former priory of the Gothic Church of Saint-Jean-de-Malte (St John of Malta), built by the Knights of Malta in the 12th century.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #11 of 94 things to do in Aix-en-Provence
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Really Enjoyable 02/12/2018
    • Aix's Main Fine Arts Museum 08/11/2018
    • Granet Museum
    Address:
    Place Saint Jean de Malte
    photo not Granet Museum
    13100, Aix-en-Provence
    France
    Phone:
    +33 4 42 52 88 32
    Other:
  • La Bastide de Marie
    Restaurants (French, European)
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    Time for lunch accompanied by a glass of rosé wine in the stunning Provençal countryside. La Bastide de Marie in Ménerbes fits the bill perfectly, being in the heart of wine-making country and surrounded by acres of vines in the Luberon Natural Park. Located in an 18th-century farmhouse, its elegant dining room has a terrace with bucolic views and the Provençal-style cuisine — think meatballs and risotto flavored with local truffles — is second to none.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Trendsetter
    • Hidden Gems
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Ménerbes is an hour north of Aix-en-Provence in the Lubéron Natural Park.
    • Booking is required for both lunch and dinner at the restaurant.
    • La Bastide de Marie also holds Provençal cookery courses.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 14 restaurants in Menerbes
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Incredible dinner in an amazing space! 12/10/2018
    • Movie Set Gorgeous! 16/09/2018
    • La Bastide de Marie
    Address:
    64 Chemin des Peirelles
    84560 Menerbes
    France
    Phone:
    +33 4 90 72 30 20
    Price range:
    US$15 - US$34
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
    7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
    Other:
  • Parc Naturel Regional du Luberon
    Parks, Nature & Wildlife Areas
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    A microcosm of all that is beautiful about rural France, the Lubéron is a peaceful region of hilltop villages clustered around the spires of their churches; busy market towns such as Apt, Sault and Cavaillon; and bustling daily markets bursting with color and fragrance. Covering 1,840 sq km (710 sq miles), the Lubéron’s distinctive characteristics are jagged limestone rock formations and soaring cliffs, ocher-red soils planted with orderly vines, and purple swathes of lavender. Popular with walkers and cyclists, the natural park has hiking trails of all levels that pass alongside vineyards, through gorges, and up into the peaks of the Lubéron Massif. After you've explored this area thoroughly, end the day with a late supper in the bars and bistros of Vieil Aix.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • There is little public transport in the Lubéron, so visitors will find it easier to hire a car to explore the region.
    • Take a decent map – available from Aix’s tourist office – to navigate the winding, scenic roads of the Lubéron.
    • The heart of any French city lies in its markets and Aix also has several food and craft markets to explore each day.
    • The main tourist office of the Lubéron is at 20 avenue Philippe de Girard in Apt.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #31 of 139 things to do in Luberon
    • Very enjoyable drive 04/09/2018
    • A little like Napa Valley but with lots more to do....Luberon awaits! 07/07/2017
    • Parc Naturel Regional du Luberon
    Address:
    450 Residence du Parc
    60 place Jean-Jaures
    84400
    France
    Phone:
    +33 4 90 04 42 00
    Other:
  • Day 3
  • Arles
    Destinations
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    Steeped in history, Arles sits on the banks of the River Rhône northwest of Aix-en-Provence. With an ancient center liberally scattered with the UNESCO-listed remains of a Roman amphitheater, a baths complex and open-air theater; the city has a photogenic medieval center often painted by Van Gogh in 1888, the biggest Saturday market in Provence, an ornate Romanesque cathedral, and a legendary schedule of summertime festivals. All this, plus bars, cafés, boutiques, and classy restaurants packed into its streets, make Arles a vibrant, seductive portal to the wild waterlands of Camargue.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The tourist office is at esplanade Charles de Gaulle on boulevard des Lices.
    • A Van Gogh walking tour of Arles links all the landmarks he painted with the hospital where he was treated after lopping off his ear, which is now the Van Gogh Cultural Center.
    • Arles is an hour’s drive from Aix-en-Provence or 70 minutes by TGV train.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    • Arles
  • The Camargue
    Nature & Wildlife Areas, National Parks
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    The étangs (saltwater lakes) and marshes of the Camargue have long been famous for their legendary white horses, black bulls and flocks of Disney-pink flamingos. Squeezed between two branches of the mighty River Rhône and the Mediterranean Sea, it is also a flat landscape of rice paddies, saltpans, and vineyards, where life has changed little for centuries and man exists alongside nature in harmony. The region is crisscrossed with nature trails and cycling paths — a paradise for walkers, horseback riders, cyclists, artists, and photographers — but also has a brace of appealing, laidback towns to explore.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Bring mosquito repellant when visiting the Camargue in summer.
    • Camargue bullfights are agility contests in which contestants attempt to steal trophies from between the animals’ horns; the bulls are not killed.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #88 of 2,742 things to do in Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Butlins on sea 26/09/2018
    • Absolute Disaster 18/09/2018
    • The Camargue
    Phone:
    +33 4 66 73 40 24
    Other:
  • Aigues-Mortes
    Destinations
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    Once an important seaport, Aigues-Mortes is now five km (three miles) inland from the Mediterranean thanks to the silting up of the Rhône Delta, and it is the perfect pit stop for lunch and a wander. Fortified in the 13th century, the town’s massive walls still guard its huddle of grid-like lanes, classy shops, and thriving restaurant scene. The austere Gothic Church of Our Lady of the Sands stands at the heart of the old town and dates from the same time; from here Crusaders regularly set out to the Holy Land. Outside the town’s defense walls lie the red-tinged saltpans of Salin d’Aigues-Mortes; a little tourist train chugs round them on a regular schedule, taking 90 minutes and getting up close to the harvested piles of gourmet Fleur du Sel, considered the best salt in France.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Aigues-Mortes is about 90 minutes west of Aix in the heart of the marshy Camargue wetlands. It is not an easy town to reach by public transport so having a hire car would be convenient.
    • The tourist office is on place Saint-Louis.
    • The towers on the ramparts of Aigues-Mortes all have permanent historical exhibitions and the walls look spectacular when illuminated at night.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    • Aigues-Mortes
  • Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
    Destinations
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    Once a fishing village on the banks of the Petit Rhône, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is now a seaside tourist resort huddled along the Mediterranean shoreline. It has a vast, fortified 9th century church, a bullring, and a couple of tiny museums, but is most often visited by French families for bucket-and-spade vacations on the sandy expanse of beach, and for its excellent seafood restaurants.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Beach Goer
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The tourist office is at 5 avenue Van Gogh.
    • Cruises along the River Petit Rhône depart from Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer to spot flamingos and egrets in the surrounding marshlands.
    • Each year on May 24 and 25, hundreds of gypsies converge upon Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer for France’s most colorful festival, with dancing, music, and horseback parades into the sea.
    • Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is 80 minutes southwest of Aix-en-Provence.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    • Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
  • A Fleur De Sel chez Alexandra
    Restaurants (French, Mediterranean, European)
    See more photos
    Sasha H Says:

    Named after the famous salt produced outside Aigues-Mortes, A Fleur de Sel is one of the best restaurants in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, with a flower-covered exterior and a ever-packed interior. Serving up loaded platters of garlicky shrimp or clams as well as steaks and foie gras, the quality of food here far eclipses the tourist restaurants along the main drag of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Open Thursday through Tuesday from 12pm to 2pm, and 7pm to 10pm (also open Wednesday in July and August).
    • The fixed-price three- or four-course meal deals offer the best value to diners.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #34 of 127 restaurants in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great food and service 18/09/2018
    • Friendly restaurant with good service 27/08/2018
    • A Fleur De Sel chez Alexandra
    Address:
    43 avenue Frederic Mistral
    13460 Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
    France
    Phone:
    +33 4 90 97 83 42
    Price range:
    US$15 - US$37
    Hours:
    Thu - Tue
    9:00 AM - 2:30 PM
    6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
    Other:
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