Marks the Spot For Artists and Dreamers
Rolling into Aix-en-Provence (pronounced “ex”) by train is like being a paintbrush on a Cezanne canvas; fluidly moving through space and color. The landscape is a magical mix of flower fields and inspiring mountains.
The Mount Saint Victoire suddenly presents before you. This impressive limestone formation measures nine miles long and over 3000 feet at its summit. The light at different times of day shows an endless range of colors. No wonder the painter Paul Cezanne felt compelled to capture this mythical mountain in all its glory, over and over and over again.
A native to Aix, Cezanne is the city's most famous son. From his home, the mountain could be seen in the distance, inspiring him to create many of his masterworks here. You can tour his atelier of "light and silence" on the outskirts of town. This is the smallest, and most frequented museum in Aix, and could lead you to believe that Cezanne simply went out for a walk and hasn't returned yet. The first floor studio contains his palette, still covered with colors. It will leave a, well…impression.
When the artist needed a break, he probably went and soaked in the relaxing waters of the Sextius spa. Named for Aix's founder, the Roman General Caius Sextius Calvinus, these curative waters have been pumping from the ground since Roman times. Today, this is the biggest spa in Provence and located in the heart of the city at Thermes Sextius. Come relax in Provencal style before heading out to enjoy the rest of the city.
The famous Cours Mirbeau is a wide thoroughfare measuring a quarter-mile long and over 120 feet wide. Aix is known as the "city of a thousand fountains", and it is on this street you'll find the city's most notable spritzer, "La Rotunde." At night, watch water flow gently from the beaks of swans as the boulevard sparkles with light. Then stroll over to Les Deux Garçons for a café au lait, and sit in the same seats as Paul Cezanne, Emile Zola and Albert Camus once did.
From Aix TGV station, you're just minutes to the rest of the lavender-laden region. Take your France Rail Pass and hop on board the TGV to the papal city of Avignon, just 20 minutes away. In a about 15 minutes, be in Marseille, France's third largest city and inspiration for Cezanne's friend Vincent Van Gogh.
Aix is the stuff of dreams. Where artists came to be inspired and flowers sweetly scent the air. This is the provincial life in Provence.
To learn more about preparing your trip to France, visit Atout France by clicking here if you’re a US resident or here if you’re a Canadian resident.
Contributed by: Melanie, Marketing Project Manager, French American with Swedish and Italian origins, who comes from the Entertainment business and truly believes that traveling by train is the best entertainment experience ever!