You’ll probably see that there is a common thread in my posts about the South of France… each of the places I have blogged about so far (Toulon and Nice) I’d like to return to, and Aix-en-Provence is no exception. We headed to Aix as soon as we arrived at Marseille airport so were slightly tired, definitely acclimatising to the heat and I was trying to get my brain in gear to speak French, but despite these less than ideal conditions I really enjoyed our brief time in Aix for several reasons.
It was cultural.
Some places just feel like there is culture and learning in the air and Aix was one of those places (you get a similar sensation in Oxford and Cambridge). Aix was the birthplace of the artist Paul Cézanne and therefore as you might expect there is plenty to see and do which is related to this connection. There were also multiple music festivals and a variety of performances being advertised around the city, giving the impression that there is usually something going on.
It was historic.
Continuing from the previous theme, it is unsurprising that Aix gives off an impression of learning as it is primarily a university town. The University was granted its charter in 1409 and has remained an important centre of education. The many churches, old fountains (Aix is often referred to as the city of a thousand fountains) and the beautiful clock tower which was erected in 1510 all help create a sense of history even though the city was filled with modern shops. In some ways, it reminded me a lot of York.We also passed a large number of museums, again adding to the sense of culture and learning.
It was pretty.
Generally I’m not a city fan, but I do like attractive cities. Bath and York are my two favourite cities in the UK and I love exploring pretty cities abroad as well. Aix was very attractive, providing you like a historic town. It was filled with small winding streets and big squares. I decided on this trip to France that I really like shutters, which pretty much all of the buildings had. I also loved the numerous fountains that were all over the city.
Whilst we weren’t in Aix for very long, and didn’t “do” any of the attractions, it was very enjoyable just walking around. It’s the perfect city to explore at leisure on foot, interspersed with breaks at the many cafes dotted around. Hopefully one day I’ll get to return and explore it in a bit more detail.