en.infoglobe.cz » France, French Riviera VI: Aix-en-Provence – French South’s First-Class City – VIDEO

France, French Riviera VI: Aix-en-Provence – French South’s First-Class City – VIDEO

Published: 27.10.2015
„When they want to get rid of them, rich Parisians send their children here to study at the university. So, it is expensive here but the life is vibrant,“ says Louis about his home-town, a guy I met during my stay there. Indeed, for a long time I haven’t been to a place that would have so much of student atmosphere yet it wasn’t flooded with “poor” hipster cafes. Add more than two thousand years of history, narrow streets with old houses made of sandstone and friendly inhabitants of Provence. This makes almost perfect image of one of the most famous towns in the south of France.

„Since time immemorial, many writers, painters, musicians, architects, and scholars have lived here. You can see evidence everywhere. Students coming from Paris bring the newest fashoin trends. Sometimes you feel like at Champs-Élysées. Moreover, countless great restaurants and cafes can prosper here. This lures in many other tourist from all around the world,” Louis explains. „Just when you go out at the night, it will cost you. I know that France is expensive pretty much everywhere but here even wine is expensive. And that’s something,” he continues.

Aix-en-ProvenceAix-en-Provence

Cours Mirabeau is a wide street with a platan tree alley which splits the town into two parts. The southern and western end are quite new. In the north there is the old part with narrow streets and even 500 years old houses. There are the most of town’s historical sights.

The most well-known is St Salvador cathedral, or Aix cathedral for short. It is built upon a 5th century Roman basilica which had been extended until the 17th century. Hence, Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque features are to be seen inside and outside. For instance, the significant rich decorated Gothic portal with doors of carved wood. A Romanesque cloister and an archbishop’s residence are in cathedral’s proximity.

katedrála sv. Salvátora

katedrála sv. Salvátorakatedrála sv. Salvátorakatedrála sv. Salvátora

If you want only to wander around the streets you will find interesting churches. There are dozens in Aix. See the famous plaza Place de l'Hôtel-de-Ville. There is the 17th luxurious hotel of the same name. Nearby there are thermal springs and spa. Thanks to this originally Roman settlement was founded.

South from Cours Mirabeau you can find a residential neighborhood of Mazarin. In the 17th century, Archbishop Michele Mazzarino built it. There are many opulent houses and also 13th century Saint-Jean-de-Malte church. Inside are precious paintings.

kostel Saint-Jean-de-Malte kostel Saint-Jean-de-Malte

Aix is told to be the town of thousand fountains. As Louis tells me, this is very true: „Once I attempted to count all Aix fountains. I realized it was impossible. There is not a thousand of them but enough of them to get lost soon. Rather, I observed all kinds of detail and realized how different they are even though they all seem the same. Each one has a soul of its own.”

Perhaps the most beautiful thing about the town are three fountains on Cours Mirabeau. The one on its upper part was made in the 19th century and it honors King René. It was him who brought geranium grapes to Provence. In the middle, there is a mysterious, moss-covered fountain probably made by the Romans. Water there has 34°C. The roundabout down in the town center has a fountain made in 1860 which makes it look much better. The fountain celebrates art, local court that is very influential, agriculture, and wine growers of Provence, of course.

Cours Mirabeau

In case you want to learn something at some museum, Aix has couple of to go to. The first one we would like to mention is Museé Granet. It displays the works of (not necessarily) local artists. Perhaps the most famous is the post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne. He was born, painted and died in Aix-en-Provence. Also, you can see there Jean Planque collection, a Swiss-born painter and art collector. There are paintings and drawings by giants such as Monet, Renoir, Degas, Gauguin, Picasso or Van Gogh.

Aix-en-Provence

In Aix’s northern suburb, there is the private Paul Cézanne Museum. You can see his atelier there. It has remained almost unchanged since the time of his death. Also, you can visit the History of Aix Museum, or the Natural History Museum, or even the Museum of Pottery.

Aix-en-ProvenceAix-en-Provence

„St Victoria mountain is the most beautiful thing about Aix (Montagne Sainte-Victoire) which is close to the town. It raises steeply to more than 1000 meters. When Cézanne came there to pain he exactly knew why he did it. A bus rides there from the center. Then it is really close,” concludes Louis.

TGV trains connect Aix-en-Provence directly with Paris or from Nice airport. You can travel through the other airport on the middle road between Aix and Marseille, which is 30 kilometers away. But it is not that easy-to-get-to as in Nice.

GPS: 43°31'38.7"N 5°26'33.1"E

 

Text, photo and video: Matouš Vinš

Music: Beth Sorrentino

 



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