The elegant and cultural Aix en Provence has been considered one of the most attractive towns in France for centuries. It is surely a must-do any Provence itinerary and offer its visitors plenty opportunity to absorb the Provençal atmosphere while benefiting from a relatively urban and bustling environment.
Be it in a day long visit or during a prolonged stay, there is a lot to see and do. In this travel guide to Aix en Provence you will find our curated (and super fresh!) recommendations on what to do, where to eat and stay to plan for a perfect stay. Please use the index below to guide you through the content and let’s explore Aix!
Aix en Provence is perhaps the biggest and most urban village in Provence. In fact, the term “village” may not make justice to this town, which has a full-on city feel to it. And features a well established University, as well as a vibrant shopping and gastronomic scene!
Home to circa 150k inhabitants, Aix en Provence is anything but boring. There is always movement in it’s gorgeous cobbled pastel streets. The night life in Aix is really boosting with a mix of students, locals and visitors. It’s truly the best of both worlds and feels like a great home-base to explore Provence or parts of it.
How long to stay in Aix en Provence
We chose Aix en Provence as the first home-base to our road trip through Provence. We both agree it was a the best entryway to Provence. Spending a couple of nights there was enough to explore the town as well as to visit nearby vineyards!
During our initial visit Provence a few years back, we stayed in Aix-en-Provence for five nights and from there took day-trips to various regions in Provence. In hindsight, this was a good strategy, as we were short in time. If that’s your case and you only have a few days to spend Provence, I’d recommend considering a similar approach. Aix is strategically positioned with easy access to major routes in Provence, so it’s a very practical town to drive from and to.
But, if time allows, I’d strongly recommend picking more than one home-base for your Provence trip. I have described in this post what would a perfect itinerary in Provence look like. Definitely recommend checking it out before continuing your travel planning. It has the best itinerary suggestions for 5, 8 and 12 days!
Where to stay in Aix en Provence
Aix en Provence has great accommodation options for the different budgets ranges. To help you navigate the wide offering, we did a thorough research and selected the most consistently well rated hotels in town. Make sure to check them out – you can thank us later 🙂
If you prefer to look for other accommodations, make sure to check Booking.com, our partner. By doing so, you will be helping the blog with a small commission without paying anything extra for it and showing us some appreciation for the work done with the post and blog. Thank you in advance!
When it comes to Airbnbs, even though I’ve been avoiding them lately (due to their fees and problems with hosts), I should let you know there are many charming and cozy apartments and villas available in Aix en Provence. It may be worth taking a look if you think you could potentially be interested in a different type of stay.
What to do in Aix En Provence
There is quite a lot to see and do in Aix en Provence, but since the town is pretty compact, you can cover a lot by foot in one day. I listed all the points of interest listed here and many others are tagged in our personalized Provence Map, which was designed to enhance and simplify your trip to Provence. Get yours here and travel with our tips integrated to your Google Maps!
I’d recommend starting at Fontaine de la Rotonde, which is the beating heart of Aix, and from there exploring the surroundings. If you have a car, Parking Rotonde is your best bet!
There are a few shops around the Rotonde, so take your time browsing. Then head to Cours Mirabeau, one of the main streets in Aix. Take a turn to check Hôtel de Caumont’s beautiful gardens. Then head to Place des Quatre Dauphins where a beautiful dolphin fountain is placed. Then follow Rue Fernand Dol and if you are interested in museums visit Musée Granet.
Head to Hôtel De Panisse, a gorgeous building from the 18th century. Then find your way to Place d’Albertas, where the iconic fountain of Aix is place. Stroll at the Place Richelme and the nearby streets filled with stylish stores such as Sezane. Stop at Place de la Mairie on your way to Aix Cathedral, with origins traced back to the 12th century.
If you are a Cézanne fan, you can check the atelier where he worked until his death. Just make sure to book or call in advance to guarantee your visit. Then head back to check Pavillon Vendôme and finish the day around the Town Hall of Aix-en-Provence with its astronomic clock followed by a delicious meal at Place des Cardeurs.
In the mornings between 8am and 1pm, you can stroll by the city market, which sells vegetables, fruits, pastries and flowers. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays a special market set up takes place Cours Mirabeau and is the perfect opportunity to find local suppliers of cheeses, spices, olives, soaps and wines. Definitely a highlight to any stay in Aix en Provence!
If you have enough time in Aix en Provence, why not to explore Promenade de la Torse and/or Parc Jourdan for a picnic? Fondation Vasarely can also be a great place to visit and admire avant-garde art.
Oh, and don’t forget to appreciate the many fountains spread across the city. Apparently, there are over 1,000 fountains to be found, which one with it’s own characteristics and sumptuosity. Think of it as a fountains scavenger hunt!
You can also visit nearby vineyards to Aix en Provence. That’s what I will talk about in the next section!
Vineyards close to Aix en Provence
We had two full days in Aix en Provence and decided to spend most of the second exploring nearby vineyards. It was the best choice we made and would definitely recommend planning the same itinerary if you are interested in wine like us.
The first stop was Domaine Richeaume, a really well rated property which has been active since 1972 and produces mostly red wines. Every year they produce around 60k bottles of wine as well as olive oil. They don’t offer organized visits, so if you are interested in a tasting, you must email then and book. Our visit was really unformal and we tasted the wines directly from the barrels!
Our second stop was Chateau Gassier, a much more organized property with dedicated space for tastings and events. The rose labels are their flagship wines and they are quite good. The surroundings are quite beautiful as well, so all in all Gassier it’s well worth the visit.
It’s worth mentioning that we planned on having lunch between tastings. But, that was simply not possible at around 1.30pm. That’s because restaurants in Provence have a very unique opening time. They are usually open for drop-ins between 11.30am and 1pm. Thus, keep in mind unlike Italy and other European countries, meals in the South of France must be well planned and take place fairly early. I shared this and other travel tips about Provence in this blog posts, so make sure to check it before heading there!
Where to eat in Aix En Provence
One of the best areas to eat in Aix en Provence is Place deus Cardeurs square. There you will find plenty restaurant options with outdoor seating and a truly vibrant atmosphere. The square is nestled between typical pastel color Provençal buildings and couldn’t be charmer. Some restaurants even feature live music, which is definitely a plus in summer evenings!
The food at Aux Delices du Liban looked amazing and the outdoor seating area is lovely. Really close by you’ll find Le petit Baron, a super cute place serving french small dishes and great wine. We ate at Les Baratineurs, which serves great food even though their menu is everywhere.
Close by you’ll find Le vieux tonneau, a really nice tapas bar which serves great wine and has an immaculate atmosphere on summer days. Book a table in advance, as it is popular. Nearby you will find O’Gustus restaurant, which serves creative and well executed dishes for fair prices!
On Cours Mirabeau, you will find Cambarou, serving great sea food options. La Crep ‘Sautiere is not so far away and serves gluten free galletes and sweet crepes! For quick and cheap crepes, Crêpes à Gogo near the Rotonde is the best place to go.
For desert, check Les Macarons de Caroline Eurl and or Pâtisserie Béchard for delicious treats!
We absolutely loved wandering the cobbled pastel colored streets of Aix and hope you will too. If this guide was useful to you, please consider using the links below to plan your trip. You will pay the same and help the blog with a small commission which helps us creating more guides like this. Thanks in advance!