Aix-en-Provence

A somewhat quiet town about 25km NE of Marseilles, Aix-en-Provence (Aix) is known for their lavender, fountains, and beautiful landscapes that inspired artists through the years like Paul Cezanne. Ironically, in a town known for their endless fields of lavender, I didn’t see any. However, the prevalence of fountains and impact of Cezanne on the city is partout.

The Cours Mirabeau is kind of like the Champs Elysees of Aix. On either side of the street, you can find elegant cafes and posh boutiques. Down the middle are some pretty impressive fountains, the largest of which is La Rotonde.

As you go further down the street, there are others, smaller ones as well. However, my favorites were a little bit more hidden in the tiny streets of the historic center.

As I said, Cezanne is a big part of the city. Here, you have the big C for Cezanne encircling the crest of the city. 

…and a street named after him.

…which makes it all the more surprising that the city wanted to tear down his studio. Fortunately, two American students by the names of John Rewald and James Lord bought it and kept it just as Cezanne left it to keep his memory alive. Later they sold it to the city and it became a museum.

Unfortunately, pictures are not allowed inside, so the picture below is as good as it gets, but you can get a feel for what it looks like here: http://www.atelier-cezanne.com/anglais/visites.htmThe room inside is meant to look exactly as Cezanne had it when he was painting. Some of the objects from his still lives can still be found there. Two other Cezanne sites in the city that we didn’t go to (tip: if you want to see all the Cezanne stuff, spend more than a day and look up the hours for everything before you go) are the Path to Bibemus and the Jas de Bouffan Manor. People say Bibemus has a fantastic view over Mount Sainte-Victoire, the mountain Cezanne painted many times. The Jas de Bouffan Manor was Cezanne’s place of residence as a young adult. He painted many scenes from around the grounds.

The Cathedral St. Sauveur is another beautiful Gothic cathedral in France. According to legend, St. Maximinus of Aix arrived here with Mary Magdalene and built a small church dedicated to the Holy Savior, Saint Sauveur. 

In all honesty, all these Gothic cathedrals are starting to look the same to me… but they’re pretty nonetheless.

Since it was really cold and rainy out that day, Merrill and I treated ourselves to a small afternoon treat. 

Also, if you get a chance to go to Aix, you should try the Calissons d’Aix (or as they are called in Aix, Calissons). They’re made with ground almonds, orange, and royal icing.

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