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Bucket list destination:

Last updated: 28 June, 2023
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

Known as the ‘Florence of France’ or the ‘City of a Thousand Fountains’, Aix was the capital of Provence for centuries, a heritage reflected in the richness of its art, churches and golden-stone townhouses from the Renaissance to the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, every one out of five residents is a student, giving the old town a youth and vibrancy.

Famous among musical circles for its prestigious classical music festival and the European Music Academy, romantics and art lovers come in search of Cézanne, who immortalised the surrounding landscapes, especially the breathtaking limestone crag of nearby Mont Sainte-Victoire.

Did you know?

Aix is known as ‘the City of a Thousand Fountains’, for its twenty-or-so magnificent fountains found in the city centre. Look out for La Rotonde (1860), the most imposing, and the Fountain of the Four Dolphins (1667), the prettiest.

Travel advice

When to go

Provence is at its seductive best in June and the first half of July when the lavender and sunflowers bloom and festivals are in full swing. It’s hot, but even hotter in August, when French families take their holidays and everything is packed.

April, May, September and October are delightful, uncrowded and mild. Many sights are closed down by mid-November until Easter; also in winter, it’s far more likely to rain and stay overcast until the fierce mistral wind blows, often for several days in a row, gusting up to 100km per hour, but sweeping the sky crystal clear.

Getting there and away

The closest airport is in Marseille, around 25km away; take a taxi from there, or take the airport shuttle to the Marseille train station, where there are very frequent trains to Aix, a 35-45 minute journey. Aix also has a TGV terminal, with trains from Paris arriving in only 3.5 hours.

Getting around

Aix is a picturesque, compact town with narrow lanes – so the best way to get around is by bike or on foot. Streets are pedestrian-friendly, and there are numerous bike hire options. There’s also an efficient public transportation system, including buses and trams, which provide convenient access to various attractions and neighbouring towns.

Get the Aix Tourist Pass for free buses, special discounts, free entry to attractions and free guided tours. Available for 24, 48 and 72 hours.

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