Located just 20 miles inland from Marseilles, Aix-en-Provence enjoys the warm weather of the southern coast of France without the crowds that coastal beaches bring. Aix’s long history shows itself in the medieval quarter, punctuated by the Gothic-style Cathedral of the Holy Savior. Just around the corner, and a couple centuries later, is the Mazarin Quarter, marked by its impressive 17th century mansions and private gardens.
Often called “the city of a thousand fountains,” Aix-en-Provence radiates a picturesque beauty that historically has drawn artists from all over the world, such as Émile Zola and Ernest Hemingway, to its quaint cafés and tree-lined avenues. The city’s most famous artist, Paul Cézanne, perhaps captured Aix’s beauty the best in his impressionist paintings of the city and countryside, some of which can be seen in his studio.
Aixois industry boasts a variety of local products, including soap, lavender, linen, olive oil, and calissons, a traditional almond-melon confection. Found in the region of its namesake, Provençal cooking is marked by such culinary delights as garlic soup, ratatouille, and Daube provençale, a slow-cooked red meat stew. As you wander the crooked streets and explore the boutiques of the Cours Mirabeau (the main street), perhaps stop in a café or one of Aix’s many museums, or take a trip just outside the city to appreciate its agricultural and Provençal heritage that inspired so many.