Things to Do in Aix-en-Provence
At the center of picturesque Aix-en-Provence is Cours Mirabeau, a plane tree–shaded avenue lined with chic stores, patisseries, and restaurants. Marked along its length by fountains, this street is the most popular place in town for a pre- or postlunch stroll and a must-visit stop on guided tours of the town.
Set between the dramatic landscapes of the Verdon Gorge and the Valensole plateau, the man-madeLake of Sainte-Croix (Lac de Sainte-Croix) is among Provence’s most popular vacation spots. With sandy lakeside beaches, water temperatures rivaling those of the Mediterranean Sea, and fewer crowds than the French Riviera, it’s the ideal summer destination.
Dominating the landscape around Aix-en-Provence, Sainte-Victoire Mountain (Montagne Sainte-Victoire) is a limestone ridge immortalized by Aix-en-Provence painter Paul Cézanne. Whether you bike or hike to the top or just admire the silhouette from afar, its angular profile can be seen for miles around.
Located in the heart of Provence, France’s mountainous Lubéron region is famous for its vibrant purple lavender fields, forested valleys, and ancient hilltop villages such as Saignon, Bonnieux, and Gordes. Walking trails wind through the largely uninhabited region, past hills, woodlands, and fields dusted with wildflowers.
Built on the site of an ancient Roman forum, the Aix Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint Sauveur) is one of the oldest and best-loved buildings in Aix-en-Provence. It dates to the 12th century and, despite many modifications over the years, remains a particular draw for fans of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
Located on the limits of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department on the edge of the Luberon, Manosque is an old walled town filled with ancient doorways, fountains, meandering streets and charming squares like Place du Terreau, Place Marcel Pagnol and Place du Contrôle. Furthermore, Manosque has numerous historical buildings like Hôtel d’Herbès, the Town Hall, Hôtel de Gassaud, the Gothic-Romanesque Saint-Sauveur Church and, of course, the Notre-Dame-de-Romigier Church, which was built in the 10th century.
A “walled town” implies gates and fortifications, and Manosque has both, with two of its most popular attractions being the Porte de la Saunerie and Porte du Soubeyran, which both date from the 14th century.
For unobstructed views of the pear-shaped village, its burnished rooftops and the surrounding countryside filled with orchards and olive groves, visitors should consider trekking to Mont d’Or, a feat easily done thanks to a bucolic setting and the town’s typically sunny weather (over 300 days out of the year). Less than a mile away from Manosque’s center, Mont d’Or is also home to the remains of a 10th-century castle and lookout post erected by Guillaume the Liberator, which offer 360-degree views of the vast horizons stretching over the Luberon, including the southernmost peaks of the Alps on clear days.
The landscape around Aix-en-Provence was a constant inspiration to artist Paul Cézanne (1839–1906), who was born and raised in the southern French town. Located just outside, Cézanne's Studio (Atelier Cézanne)—the studio where the artist painted some of his most famous works—offers visitors fascinating insight into the life of the postimpressionist artist.
With extensive Roman ruins and a lively café scene, the southern French town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence has both historical importance and modern appeal. Nostradamus was born here, and Van Gogh spent one of his most productive periods in Saint-Rémy, so there’s plenty to do for art lovers and visitors interested in the region’s history.
Aix-en-Provence Old Town (Vieil Aix) is the city’s ancient heart, where people have lived and worked since Roman times. The area is home to some of the city’s grandest buildings, as well as reminders of previous eras. It’s one of the city’s most vibrant quarters home to shops, restaurants, and museums.
The Valensole Plateau (Plateau De Valensole) embodies the quintessential image of Provencal summer, with vibrant purple lavender fields, sunflower-filled valleys, and peaceful hilltop villages. Photo-worthy vistas extend in all directions, and the village of Valensole houses shops selling flowers, perfumes, oils, and other lavender-derived products.
More Things to Do in Aix-en-Provence
One of France’s largest and most popular zoos, La Barben Zoo (Zoo de la Barben), located in Provence, has been a popular attraction for families since it opened in the early 1970s. Learn about the more than 650 animals who live at the zoo, from the lions, rhinos, elephants, and giraffes to hundreds of rare species.
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