Cezanne’s elegant hometown, filled with fountains and beautiful mansions, works of art and excellent restaurants. The ‘Florence of France’.
Travel bucket list idea:
Aix-en-Provence, Provence, France|www.cathedrale-aix.net|
Aix’s medieval cathedral is packed with treasures. Foremost among these is its recently restored masterpiece, the intricately detailed triptych of The Burning Bush (1476), painted by Nicolas Froment for Provence’s King Rene. It also contains a striking 6th-century baptistery and a tiny but exquisite 12th-century cloister, as well as beautifully sculpted doors.
The adjacent archbishop’s residence contains a fascinating tapestry museum, containing 17th- and 18th-century tapestries hidden there during the French Revolution, and only rediscovered in the 1840s.
The cathedral is a national monument, with architectural elements stretching back to the original Roman Forum of Aix, on which the cathedral was built. Later renovations include Romanesque and Gothic elements. The elegant columns in the baptistery, which was built in the 6th century, were probably from an ancient Roman temple that stood on the same site. The famous 16th-century walnut doors, sculpted with sibyls and fantastical beasts, are protected by wooden panels, which may be removed by request. Ask one of the volunteer guides.
Getting there & doing it
Visitors may wander the main building freely, but the cloister and gardens are only accessible with one of the volunteer guides, who are on hand to help.
When to do it
The cathedral is open all year round, seven days a week.
Destination guides including or relevant to this experience
Gorgeous landscapes peppered with beautiful villages, sunflowers and lavender, art-filled towns, lively cultural festivals and exquisite food and wine. Provence is everything you imagined it would be.