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Friday, August 5, 2011

Key Sights in Aix En Provence

Fountain on Cours MirabeauImage via Wikipedia

Author: Lek Boonlert

The home of Paul Cezanne, walking around Aix En Provence it's easy to see why the artist spent so much time here. With the countryside, views of Sainte-Victoire Mountain and the stunning architecture there are numerous factors that can make anyone feel inspired. People heading to the city will need at least a couple of nights at one of the hotels in Aix En Provence in order to see the main sites and reach into all the area has to offer. The following guide helps to highlight the major attractions for people with different tastes whether it's culture, art, architecture, history or shopping.

Cezanne's Inspiration
Les Lauves studio allows admirers of the artist to see, breathe and touch the collection of articles that were his inspiration. Walking around it's almost as if you can feel his presence as the equipment he used is still here as well as the objects that were the models in his famous works. This studio was also to be his last and was where he created the ‘large bathers' and it's also possible to tour the garden. The Jas de Bouffan Manor is another site where the painter produced a great of deal of his most celebrated works and previously wasn't open to the public but now visitors can look round this classic mansion. For a view of the area where Cezanne painted some of his scenic pictures visitors can then head to the Bibémus Quarries to discover for themselves the complex colours of the rock faces and the scenery he used in his landscapes.

Cours Mirabeau
The Cours Mirabeau is the heartbeat of Aix as walking along here are a collection of shops, cafes, restaurants and beautiful fountains that have their own unique history. The most striking of these is La Rotonde with its three large statues in the middle which represent justice, agriculture and art. In the middle is a fountain from Roman times which is permanently warm, hovering at 34°C and which makes for an ideal climate for the green moss that grows on the top. The road actually stretches for 440 metres and a perfect place to stop for something to eat is Les Deux Garcons made famous by its clientele which have included Cezanne and Ernest Hemingway. The fountain at the other end sees the grand figure of King Rene, Muscat grapes in hand which signify his involvement in introducing the fruit to Provence.

Old and New Town
The Cours Mirabeau actually divides the old and new towns and in the old town, known as Ville Comtale, the Saint Sauveur Cathedral is one of the most prominent attractions. The architecture encompasses a variety of styles as the cathedral has been developed over the years. Originally a temple to Apollo in Roman times the cloisters again have a Roman feel with ornate carvings on the double pillars. The baptistery's stand dates to the 5th century, while the Gothic doorways also feature beautiful wood carvings on the actual doors.

The new town, known as the Quartier Mazarin, has two fine museums in the Granet and the Arbaud Museum. The Musee Granet has works by a plethora of European artists including Picasso, Rembrandt and of course Cezanne while the Arbaud is home to Provence's most comprehensive collection of earthenware.

The markets that set up around Aix are a great place to shop for authentic goods from the region. Fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, clothing, furniture and antiques are all on display at different times of the week. Place Richelme holds a farmers style market and Place de d'hôtel de Ville is where the notorious flower market is located and is definitely worth visiting even if you're not buying but just to see the vibrancy of colours.
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About the Author

Lek Boonlert is an editor and content reviewer at DirectRooms and is responsible for all Aix En Provence Hotels content.