Brief Escapes to Europe

Aix - en Provence

Aix-en-Provence is the city of art, and a city of light and activity. Aix is also a home of art schools and several universities, including some American, attracting a youthful population that sparks the atmosphere. Aix is also ancient: a Celtic-Ligurian capital from the 3rd century BC was pushed aside for the founding of Aix in 122 BC.
The center of Aix is the old town, surrounded by a circle of boulevards and squares. It's a small-enough area to explore by foot, but there is a lot to be seen in one or two days. The medieval Aix was protected by a wall with 39 towers. Today only the 14th century "Tourreluquo" tower remains, at the northwest corner of the town.
Cours Mirabeau is the heart of Aix. The Cours Mirabeau is a beautiful tree-lined avenue, with one side lined with nice cafes and bookshops. The air is warm, the light sublime and the sidewalk alive. Large plane trees overhang the length of the avenue, giving day-long shade on hot summer days. The most famous cafes are: Le Grillon [this photo], Les Deux Garçons, La Belle Epoque and Le Cafe du Cours.
Vieille Ville
The old town of Aix is packed with shops, markets, museums, religious and architectural sites and historical sites. The terrace cafés on the Place des Précheurs (by the flower market) attract many of the younger locals, with lower prices than those on the Cours Mirabeau.
Mazarin District
The Quartier Mazarin is the area south of the Cours Mirabeau. This area of 17th-century town houses ("hotels particuliers") was built in 1646-51 by the Archbishop Mazarin. The Granet Museum , Paul Arbaud Museum and the 13th-century church of St-Jean-de-Malte are in the Quartier Mazarin.
Sextius Baths
The "Thermes Sextius" in the northwest corner of the town, along the Bvd Jean Jaurès, are 18th-century hot-water baths set in a large tree-shaded park (closed for extensive renovation, 1996-97). This is near the site of original Roman baths, which were large enough to attract visitors to Aquae Sextiae 2000 years ago. Aix-en-Provence is full of fountains.

Additional information
© - all rights reserved