08 Feb DMC in Aix en Provence
Looking for a place to work and relax ? France has many cities of interest, and one of them is Aix-en-Provence. This delightful city is Provence’s quintessence. With its historical façades, paved squares, meandering streets and thermal springs, Aix-en-Provence simply overflows with charm.
If the city has a blessed backdrop of breathtaking mountains and countryside, it has a backdrop of history too : the grace of Baroque architecture is all around as you stroll through the streets. This is a city where you walk. Its centre is compact and can be easily explored on foot.
Where to start ? Well, it’s a pleasant place to eat and drink. Relax on a café terrace or taste fantastic gastronomy in a lovely french restaurant. Head to the main thoroughfare, Cours Mirabeau, a street lined with cafés, restaurants and elegant mansions, and shaded by rows of centuries-old plane trees. Sit down awhile at a terrace and watch life go by over a coffee. This vibrant city, with its sunny climate, is always full of life.
When you stroll through the streets, the sun can be beating down. Fortunately, the city has thousand fountains. Three of the city’s more notable fountains are located on Cours Mirabeau. There’s a 19th-century work depicting King René holding the Muscat grapes he introduced to Provence in the 15th century; a natural hot spring covered in moss, dating back to Roman times; and the 1860 La Rotonde, beneath three giant statues representing art, justice and agriculture. But the most spectacular fountain of all is the 17th-century Fontaine des Quatre Dauphins (Fountain of the Four Dolphins) in the Quartier Mazarin.
Aix-en-Provence is a mosaic of bright pictures, with the colours of Paul Cézanne. The city is inextricably linked with the 19th-century post-impressionist painter who was born and schooled there. Throughout his life he was inspired by the nearby Sainte-Victoire mountains, which feature in many of this works. Today, you can pay homage by visiting his studio on the town’s northern outskirts.
People have been flocking to Aix since Roman times to benefit from the restorative properties of its thermal waters. Past visitors have included such luminaries as Winston Churchill and Pablo Picasso. Today, the main draw for spa lovers is Thermes Sextius, in the heart of the old town, a modern bathing complex offering various therapies.
Aix is also a centre for the arts. Numerous festivals take place year-round, the two most famous being Musique dans la Rue, and Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.
But during your stay, you can simply wander in the charming paved streets of the city. You’ll enjoy the sensations of its markets. There are as many living markets as days in the week. From fruit and vegetables to antiquarian books to the flower markets, the city is always full sound and colour. At night, the city remains full of life. With its mild climate, Aix-en-Provence is a great place for night-birds. A casino, lots of bars and pubs and discotheques, some cafe-theatres and concert halls make Aix-en-Provence a great destination, be it day or night !
Compact, well-preserved, and bathed in sunshine for much of the year, Aix-en-Provence makes an ideal base for exploring the delights of Provence too. Castles, chapels, shrines, beautiful hilltop villages, but above all mountains and Mediterranean forest make a vast area to enjoy all year around !