Aix en Provence: The Complete Guide

Aix En Provence

Aix-en-Provence, commonly pronounced as “X,” is a stunning town in the far south of France, easily accessible by TGV high-speed train. It takes about three hours from downtown Paris and three and a half hours from Charles de Gaulle Airport. Located just 30km north of Marseille, Aix could well have been the central hub of Provence if not overshadowed by the larger metropolis. Historically, culturally, and socially, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille are vastly different, often leading visitors to favor one city over the other.

Aix-en-Provence is traditionally viewed as conservative, exuding a stately charm that makes it immediately appealing. Its proudest era was in the fifteenth century when it thrived as an independent fiefdom under the beloved King René of Anjou. The nineteenth century saw notable residents such as Paul Cézanne and Émile Zola, enhancing its cultural footprint. Today, Aix is known for its well-dressed youth, an influx of international students—especially Americans—and a certain level of snobbishness reminiscent of Paris.

The heart of the city, known as Vieil Aix, is a tangle of medieval lanes that collectively form a significant monument. This enchanting ensemble is more captivating than any single building or museum within it. The lively streets, tempting restaurants, cafés, shops, and fountained squares make it easy to spend days soaking in the city’s ambiance. The central area hosts some of Provence’s finest markets on Saturdays, with smaller markets on Tuesdays and Thursdays, offering an authentic taste of local life and culture.

TIP: If you are visiting Aix en Provence for just a day and want to make the most of your visit, you may want to consider taking a walking tour with a local guide. This is one of the most complete and best-rated city tours that covers the main, must-see attractions in about 3 hours. If you prefer walking at your own pace read our Self Guided Walking Tour of Aix en Provence.

History of Aix en Provence

Founded in 123 BC by the Roman consul Sextius Calvinus, Aix (originally Aquae Sextiae) was named after its springs. The town’s origins trace back to the destruction of the nearby Gallic oppidum at Entremont. Its early significance is marked by the Battle of Aquae Sextiae in 102 BC, where Romans under Gaius Marius defeated the Ambrones and Teutones. The battle is noted for the mass suicides of the captured women, a tale that has become part of Roman legends celebrating Germanic heroism.

By the 4th century AD, Aix had become the metropolis of Narbonensis Secunda. It endured multiple occupations over the centuries, including by the Visigoths in 477, and was frequently raided by the Franks and Lombards. The Saracens seized Aix in 731, only to be ousted by Charles Martel in 737. During the Middle Ages, Aix served as the capital of Provence and reached its peak after the 12th century. Under the rule of the houses of Barcelona/Aragon and Anjou, it blossomed as a center of art and learning.

In 1487, Aix, along with all of Provence, was incorporated into the French crown. King Louis XII, in 1501, established the parliament of Provence there, which remained until 1789. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, Aix was the seat of the Intendance of Provence. Recent archaeological digs in the Ville des Tours, a medieval suburb of Aix, have revealed a Roman amphitheatre. Additionally, a find of fossil bones from the Upper Continental Miocene in the area inspired a Christian legend of a dragon.

Visiting Aix en Provence for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Aix en Provence on the first visit. To help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

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17 Best places to See in Aix en Provence

This complete guide to Aix en Provence not only tells you about the very best sights and tourist attractions for first-time visitors to the city but also provide insights into a few of our personal favorite things to do.

This is a practical guide to visiting the best places to see in Aix en Provence and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!

Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, Aix-en-Provence

Place De L’Hôtel De Ville, Aix-en-Provence
Public Domain / Aix-en-Provence
The Place de l’Hôtel de Ville in Aix, one of the most renowned squares in Provence, is situated in the heart of the city, directly in front of the Town Hall. The present Town Hall building, completed in 1678, replaces an earlier 14th-century structure and was designed by architect Pierre Pavillon with the assistance of […]
Location: Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, Rue Vauvenargues, Aix-en-Provence, France | Distance: 0.00km
Visiting Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, Aix-en-Provence

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Tour de l’Horloge in Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence, Place De La Mairie
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Rolf Kranz
The Clock Tower (Tour de l’Horloge) stands as a prominent monument on the Town Hall Square (Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville), bearing witness to centuries of history. Erected in 1510, this tower occupies the site once occupied by a Roman-era military checkpoint. Distinguished by its ornate ogees, braces, and pinnacles, the Clock Tower showcases a captivating Gothic […]
Location: Tour de l'Horloge, Rue Gaston de Saporta, Aix-en-Provence, France | Distance: 0.10km
Visiting Tour de l’Horloge in Aix-en-Provence

Explore Aix en Provence yourself with our self-guided walking tour!

Place et Fontaine d'Albertas

Aix-Place D’Albertas
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Bjs
In the 16th century, Jean Agar, an adviser to the Parliament of Aix, sold his property to the Paulhes, a family from Marseille. Subsequently, in the 18th century, the Paulhes sold the house to the d’Albertas family, originally from Alba, Italy, who had settled in Provence in the 14th century. In 1724, Marquis Henri Reynaud […]
Location: Place d'Albertas 11 Rue Espariat 13100 Aix-en-Provence France | Hours: 24 hours | Price: Free | Distance: 0.20km
Visiting Place et Fontaine d'Albertas

Cathedrale Saint-Sauveur d'Aix-en-Provence

Baptistère Cathédrale Saint Sauveur Aix En Provence
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Ddeveze
The Saint-Sauveur Cathedral in Aix-en-Provence stands as a testament to centuries of architectural evolution. Located at 2 rue Gaston-de-Saporta, it is steeped in legend, said to have been erected on the ancient site of a temple dedicated to Apollo. Over time, it has undergone numerous alterations, resulting in a blend of architectural styles. Measuring 70 […]
Location: Paroisse Cathédrale Saint Sauveur Aix-en-Provence, Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur d'Aix-en-Provence, Place des Martyrs de la Resistance, Aix-en-Provence, France | Hours: All year round, every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Celebration of Masses: Monday to Friday at 8 a.m. Saturday at 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. | Price: Free | Website | Distance: 0.20km
Visiting Cathedrale Saint-Sauveur d'Aix-en-Provence

Musee des Tapisserie

Aix-en-Provence-palais Archiépiscopal
CC BY-SA 4.0 / François GOGLINS
The former Archbishop’s Palace, which has become the “Tapestry Museum” since 1909, is a vast building made up of four wings framing an interior courtyard. The Musee des Tapisseries is home to a diverse and extensive array of tapestries dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Among its notable collections is the ‘Grotesques,’ a […]
Location: Musée des Tapisseries, Place des Martyrs de la Resistance, Aix-en-Provence, France | Hours: Open every day except Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. | Price: €4 | Distance: 0.20km
Visiting Musee des Tapisserie

Cours Mirabeau

Aix En Provence, Le Cours Mirabeau
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Ketounette
Honore-Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau, was a prominent early leader of the French Revolution and represented Aix at the pivotal Estates General assembly in 1789. Although publicly advocating for liberty, he was secretly supportive of the monarchy. His death in 1791 was widely mourned across the nation. In his honor, the Cours Mirabeau in Aix […]
Location: Cours Mirabeau, Aix-en-Provence, France | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free | Distance: 0.30km
Visiting Cours Mirabeau

Place des Prêcheurs

Place Des Prêcheurs
CC BY-SA 4.0 / François GOGLINS
Facing the Palais de Justice is the Place des Prêcheurs, a square with origins dating back to the 15th century, serving as the bustling hub of public and social activity prior to the emergence of the iconic Cours Mirabeau. Around the year 1640, architect Jean Lombard undertook the task of enhancing the eastern bank of […]
Location: Place des Prêcheurs, Aix-en-Provence, France | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free | Distance: 0.30km
Visiting Place des Prêcheurs

Fontaine de la Rotonde (Fountain of the Rotunda)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Rainbow0413
Before his death in 1779, the Count de Valbelle generously donated 30,000 livres to the city of Aix. In November of that year, plans were set in motion to demolish the city’s ramparts in one area and construct a new square. Several proposals were considered to enhance the emerging Rotunda Square. A grand fountain and […]
Location: Fontaine de la Rotonde, Place du Général de Gaulle, Aix-en-Provence, France | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting Fontaine de la Rotonde (Fountain of the Rotunda)

Hotel de Caumont

Aix-Hôtel De Caumont
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Bjs
The Hotel de Caumont, now a museum, was originally a private residence designed by architects Robert de Cotte and Georges Vallon in 1715. Built for Francois Rolland de Reauville de Tertulle, Marquess of Cabannes, the hotel showcases sculptures by Jean-Baptiste Rambot and Bernard Toro, including an Atlas near the main entrance. This property changed hands […]
Location: Hôtel de Caumont, Rue Joseph Cabassol, Aix-en-Provence, France | Hours: Open every day. From 9 October to 3 May: 10am to 6pm From 4 May to 8 October: 10am to 7pm | Price: Adult: €15,50 | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting Hotel de Caumont

Mazarin District and Fountain of the Four Dolphins

Aix En Provence Quatre-Dauphins
CC BY-SA 2.5 / Wolfgang Moroder
The Mazarin District in Aix-en-Provence, named after Cardinal Jules Mazarin, is renowned for its 17th-century mansions, cobblestone streets, and preserved architecture. This historic neighborhood boasts elegant buildings adorned with intricate facades and wrought-iron balconies, reflecting the wealth of the era. Nowadays, it’s a bustling area filled with boutiques, galleries, cafes, and restaurants, attracting both locals […]
Location: Place des Quatre-Dauphins, Place des 4 Dauphins, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free | Distance: 0.50km
Visiting Mazarin District and Fountain of the Four Dolphins

Pavillon de Vendome

Aix-Pavillon Vendôme
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Bjs
This historic mansion is encircled by exquisite formal French gardens. Commissioned by the Lord Duke of Vendome (1612-1669) and crafted by Pierre Pavillon, the house was completed in 1667. It was intended by the Lord Duke as a romantic retreat for his beloved Lucrece de Forbin Sollies, known as Belle du Canet. Vendome passed away […]
Location: Pavillon de Vendôme, Rue de la Molle, Aix-en-Provence, France | Hours: The museum is open every day except Tuesday. April 15 to October 15 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. October 16 to April 14 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Exceptional closure on May 1st. | Price: €4 | Distance: 0.50km
Visiting Pavillon de Vendome

Musee Granet

Aix En Provence-musee Granet
CC BY-SA 4.0 / François GOGLINS
Henri Pointier, who served as the curator of the Museum of Aix from 1892 to 1925, notably held a strong disdain for Paul Cézanne, famously stating that Cézanne’s works would only be displayed there “over my dead body.” Ironically, Pointier passed away in 1949, and that same year, the museum began actively acquiring works by […]
Location: Musée Granet, Place Saint-Jean de Malte, Aix-en-Provence, France | Hours: Tues-Sun, closed Mondays. Jan2- June 10 noon-6pm; June 11-Oct 2 10am-7pm; Oct 3 - Dec 31 noon-6pm | Price: Adults: €5 | Website | Distance: 0.60km
Visiting Musee Granet

Église Saint-Jean-de-Malte

Église Saint-Jean-de-Malte
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Earwiglet
Originally in the 12th century, this location was occupied by the Knights Hospitaller, a military, chivalrous, and noble Roman Catholic Order. They established a chapel and hospice here, and in the 13th century, a Gothic-style church was constructed, marking it as the first Roman Catholic church in Provence. Subsequently, the church became the final resting […]
Location: Eglise et Paroisse Saint-Jean-de-Malte, Rue d'Italie, Aix-en-Provence, France | Distance: 0.60km
Visiting Église Saint-Jean-de-Malte

Atelier de Cézanne

Aix-Atelier Cézanne
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Bjs
Throughout his career, Paul Cézanne utilized various studios in and around Aix-en-Provence. However, in 1902, he commissioned the construction of a house specifically designed for his artistic pursuits. Situated 750 meters north of the cathedral and overlooking the city, this house served as Cézanne’s final and most cherished studio. It was within the confines of […]
Location: Atelier de Cezanne, Avenue Paul Cézanne, Aix-en-Provence, France | Distance: 1.00km
Visiting Atelier de Cézanne

Fondation Vasarely

Fondation Vasarely, Aix-en-Provence
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Creando
The Fondation Vasarely in Aix-en-Provence stands as a testament to the artistic vision of Victor Vasarely, showcasing his remarkable body of work. Established in 1966 by Vasarely himself, the foundation aimed to create a hub for the promotion of his ideals of ‘art for all’ and the ‘city of tomorrow.’ Construction of the museum began […]
Location: 1 Avenue Marcel Pagnol, 13090 Aix-en-Provence, France | Hours: Daily 10 am to 6 pm. Closed on December 25 and January 1 of each year. | Price: €15 | Website | Distance: 2.00km
Visiting Fondation Vasarely

Entremont (oppidum)

Entremont Oppidum
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Mark Landon
Entremont, an archaeological site spanning 3.5 hectares (8.6 acres), sits three kilometers south of Aix-en-Provence on the southern edge of the Puyricard plateau. In ancient times, this oppidum served as the capital of the Celtic-Ligurian confederation of Salyes. Established between 180 and 170 B.C., it came into being slightly later than other oppida like Saint-Blaise […]
Location: Oppidum d'Entremont, Avenue Fernand Benoît, Aix-en-Provence, France | Hours: June to September: every day except Tuesdays October to May: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and the first week-end of the month. Schedule: from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm; from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm (from April to August) from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm (from September to March). It is closed: 1 January, 1 and 8 May, 1 and 11 November, 25 December. | Website | Distance: 2.60km
Visiting Entremont (oppidum)

Camp des Milles

Les Milles, Gebäude Des Lagers
CC BY-SA 3.0 / --Anima
The Camp des Milles, inaugurated in September 1939, served as a French internment camp situated in a former tile factory near Les Milles village, within the Aix-en-Provence commune (Bouches-du-Rhône). Recognizing its historical significance, UNESCO designated the site as the headquarters for its new Chair of Education for Citizenship, Human Sciences, and Shared Memories in October […]
Location: Camp des Milles, Chemin de la Badesse, Aix-en-Provence, France | Hours: Open every day from 10 pm to 7 pm (Ticketing closure at 5.30 pm) except: 01/01, 01/05 and 25/12. | Price: Adults: € 9.50 | Website | Distance: 6.00km
Visiting Camp des Milles

Best Time to Visit Aix en Provence

The best time to visit Aix-en-Provence largely depends on what you want to experience during your trip. Each season offers a unique charm and set of activities:

  1. Summer (July and August): This is a great time if you enjoy warm weather and outdoor activities. You can rent bikes and explore the scenic vineyards and the countryside. The town is vibrant, with many tourists and numerous wine-related events.
  2. Autumn (September to November): Autumn is particularly special in Aix-en-Provence due to the grape harvest season. The vineyards transform into stunning shades of gold and russet. It’s also an excellent time for wine enthusiasts to experience the bustling activity in the vineyards and perhaps participate in wine tastings and festivals, including the famous Hospices de Beaune wine auction in November.
  3. Winter (December to February): Winter is quieter but no less charming, with fewer tourists. This season is ideal for visiting wineries and enjoying wine tastings in a more intimate setting. The cold weather makes the cozy wine cellars particularly inviting.
  4. Spring (March to June): Spring is a lovely time as the vineyards burst into life with new growth, and the weather is generally mild. It’s less crowded than summer and a beautiful season for enjoying the fresh air and verdant landscapes.

Each season offers a distinct experience, so the best time to visit Aix-en-Provence really depends on your personal interests and what you hope to get out of the trip. If you are a wine lover, planning your visit during the harvest season or for specific wine events would be ideal.

Average Temperatures in Aix en Provence

  • January 13°C 6
  • February 14°C 7
  • March 17°C 6
  • April 20°C 7
  • May 26°C 7
  • June 31°C 5
  • July 35°C 2
  • August 32°C 3
  • September 28°C 6
  • October 24°C 10
  • November 16°C 13
  • December 13°C 7

How to get to Aix en Provence

Getting to Aix-en-Provence is quite straightforward, whether you’re traveling from within France or internationally. Here are some of the main options:

By Air

While Aix-en-Provence does not have its own airport, it is easily accessible via Marseille Provence Airport (MRS), which is about 25 kilometers (approximately 15 miles) from Aix-en-Provence. The airport offers numerous domestic and international flights. From the airport, you can take a bus, a shuttle service, or a taxi to reach Aix-en-Provence. The journey typically takes about 30 minutes by car or taxi.

By Train

Aix-en-Provence is well-connected by the French rail network, including high-speed TGV trains:

  • From Paris: Direct TGV trains from Paris Gare de Lyon to Aix-en-Provence TGV station take about 3 hours. You can take a bus or taxi from the TGV station to downtown Aix-en-Provence.
  • From Lyon: TGV or regional trains from Lyon to Aix-en-Provence take about 1 to 1.5 hours.
  • From Marseille: Regular local trains connect Marseille to Aix-en-Provence, with a journey time of about 40 minutes.

By Car

Driving to Aix-en-Provence offers the flexibility of exploring the surrounding region at your own pace:

  • From Paris: The drive from Paris to Aix-en-Provence is approximately 750 kilometers (about 466 miles) and takes around 7 hours via the A6 and A7 motorways.
  • From Lyon: From Lyon, it takes about 3 hours to drive to Aix-en-Provence, mostly via the A7 motorway.
  • From Nice: The drive from Nice to Aix-en-Provence takes about 2 hours via the A8 motorway.

By Bus

Long-distance buses also connect Aix-en-Provence with other major French cities and some European cities. Buses can be a more economical but slower option compared to trains.

Overall, train travel is typically the most efficient and relaxing way to get to Aix-en-Provence, especially if you are coming from other major French cities. However, if you plan to explore more extensively in the Provence region, driving might be the better option for greater mobility.