Pavillon de Vendôme Museum

Nestled in a green setting, the Pavillon de Vendôme bears witness to the refinement of 17th-century architecture as much as to the prosperity of the city of Aix-en-Provence. This historical monument now houses a museum that displays works from the 17th century to the beginning of the 21st century, as well as a remarkable collection of graphic arts.

The history of the Pavillon de Vendôme

The pavilion was originally a vacation or reception house that rich aristocrats or bourgeois built on the outskirts of large cities. The Pavillon de Vendôme was built by Louis de Mercoeur, Duke of Vendôme and grandson of King Henry IV and of the sovereign’s mistress, the seductive Gabrielle d’Estrées. Legend has it that this prince fell madly in love with Forbin Solliès, nicknamed the Belle du Canet. It is said that this house was built for her. At nightfall, she discreetly joined her lover there.

The façade stands out as one of the most beautiful examples of classical architecture in Provence. The pavilion was profoundly redesigned in the 18th century, raised by one floor and covered by a tiled roof. Two statues, baroque atlantes which are allegories of dawn and dusk, were sculpted to frame the entrance. The Pavillon de Vendôme has also housed since this period a double spiral staircase of great beauty. The interior, with its gypsum sculptures with garlands, has a very baroque majesty.

The museum’s collections

The Pavillon de Vendôme was acquired in 1906 by Henri Dobler, an art lover who restored and refurnished it. On his death, he bequeathed the building and its collections to the city of Aix-en-Provence, on condition that the premises be transformed into a museum.

Visitors can admire in the rooms of the Pavillon Vendôme of Aix-en-Provence various works created between the 17th and early 20th centuries. The museum is best known for its extensive graphic arts collection. The setting is reminiscent of the great mansions of the time.

The park and the gardens

The jardin à la française is now a public garden in the city of Aix-en-Provence and is open to all and freely accessible. It has been faithfully reconstructed thanks to documents that have come down to us from the 17th century. In its center, a circular fountain adds a touch of movement to the majesty of the place. Since their construction, the gardens have been surrounded by crenelated walls designed to prevent possible incursions by marauders.

Since 1953, the jardin à la française has been classified as a Historical Monument.

Practical information

  • Visiting time: about an hour
  • Opening days: the museum is open all year round on a weekly basis, from Wednesday to Monday. The museum is closed on January 1, May 1 and December 25.
  • Address: 13 Rue de la Molle, 13100 Aix-en-Provence
  • Website:

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