Aix: Little Versailles

A hub of lifestyle, heritage, and outdoor activities, Aix-en-Provence checks all the boxes when it comes to unforgettable experiences.

Aix-en-Provence: A lesson in style

In Aix, a simple stroll becomes a voyage through time, paced by the discreet murmur of fountains and orderly line-up of 17th and 18th-century frontages. The town’s architectural harmony is rare in itself and comprises France’s 3rd largest Baroque ensemble (after Paris and Versailles), offering a soothing impression of timelessness. Of course, that’s not true of the whole town: thanks to its young and creative population, Aix’s restaurants and galleries have become genuine experimental hubs.

Culture and heritage

Awe-inspiring monuments

The stage is set: noble frontages with sculpted gargoyles, Roman tiles worn to a patina by the passage of time, mossy fountains and delicate squares, such as the ravishing Place d’Albertas. And Cours Mirabeau sets the pace – that of a pleasant stroll along an ancient carriageway, shaded by plane trees and adorned with the magnificent, mossy Fontaine de la Rotonde fountain. To the South of Cours Mirabeau, the Mazarin quarter built under the reign of Louis XIV is embellished with gorgeous mansion houses. If you fancy an extra immersion in genteel lifestyle, simply retreat to the French-style gardens of Pavillon de Vendôme. In addition to their undeniable panache, Aix’s monuments are still instilled with pomp and splendour. And speaking of pomp, the pompe à l’huile is actually the name of one of Aix’s typical culinary specialities: a simple flatbread made with olive oil.

Speaking of taste…

…have you tried the Calisson candy?

In the early 20th century, Aix-en-Provence was the world’s leading hub for the almond trade. Almonds were first introduced into Provence in the 15th century and the invention of the Calisson dates back to the same era. This story of this little, lozenge-shaped candy, made with ground almonds and candied fruit and topped with rice paper, is traditionally tied to that of the fight against the Great Plague. Another – more romantic – tale tells that it was a love note created by a cook for the austere Queen Jeanne. When she tasted it, she is said to have exclaimed: “di calin soun” (these are like cuddles!).

So, is the Calisson sacred or simply sweet? Whatever the case, there’s no doubt Aix is a place for people of taste.

Pays d’Aix – 5 AOP wines!

Red, white or rosé, the Pays d’Aix area alone boasts five Protected Designation of Origin (AOP) wines, selected on three criteria: soil, grape varieties used for production and growing & wine making know-how. The 5 AOP wines  – Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, Côtes de Provence, Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire, Palette and Côtes du Luberon – are grown at a total of 70 vineyards on a 1,300 km2 terroir spanning the 36 towns forming the Pays d’Aix area and 8 towns forming the Sud Luberon area.

Wineries and estates

The beautiful Sainte-Victoire

The Sainte-Victoire is one of Provence’s three sacred mountains, along with Sainte-Baume and Ventoux. Its rocky spur stands out sharply against the azure-blue skies, making it a favourite subject for many artists. After Cézanne, Picasso also came to live in Vauvenargues to admire it. You can opt for a variety of footpaths leading to the summit: the Lac de Bimont lake or Carrières de Bibemus quarry, or by winding their way around Plateau du Cengle, which forms the mountain’s base.


Hiking in Provence