The din of cicadas, the southern French accent, a glass of Pastis at a table outside a café: this is Aix-en-Provence, one of France’s most delightful towns. Aix has long been the capital of Provence. This can be seen in its architecture, the wealth of its private mansions, and the ever-present traces of its flourishing past.
The city of the painter Cézanne, Aix is a fascinating city dominated by the iconic Sainte-Victoire mountain, which culminates at 1011 metres. Here is some practical information to help you plan your visit to Aix-en-Provence!
What about Aix-en-Provence?
Jokingly, Aix-en-Provence is a French city which people love to hate! In the heart of the historic region of Provence, it has all the advantages of a small town in spite of its size. Indeed, Aix has about 150 000 inhabitants, which is very few for a French “sous-préfecture”. Very close to Marseille, the huge French harbour metropolis, Aix-en-Provence has managed to keep its personality and its charm. Cobbled streets, an old city inaccessible by car, water fountains everywhere… Without a doubt, Aix is an extraordinary city known for water and art, and it keeps its promise.
A high rate of residents, called Aixois(e) or Aquisextain(e)s, are retired people or students.
Retired people come to Aix for its laid-back way of life. This city has every asset to seduce people, including the climate. It is very hot in the region during the summer, but the famous wind called the “Mistral” moderates the climate.
Aix-en-Provence is part of the largest education authority in France (in French “académie”) ahead of Paris! In 2012, there were 41,000 students living in Aix. With the merger of the 3 universities “Aix-Marseille” (Provence University, Mediterranean University and Paul Cézanne University), there are no fewer than 75,000 students in the académie of Aix-Marseille.
Apart from the sun and the “dolce vita”, Aix-en-Provence holds many secrets. To discover them, you have to get off the beaten track. Then, around the bend in a road, you might come upon the house of a famous painter, a luxurious townhouse, or one of the 140 sites listed as “Historic Monuments”. Take a look, and you will be amazed!
Where to stay in Aix-en-Provence?
You can choose from a great range of accommodation in Aix-en-Provence, from hotels to B&B and campings! My recommendation is to book your accommodation near the city centre. Although it’s a more pricey option, you’ll save time on transportation and can access most of the 10 things to see within walking distance.
Also, when possible, don’t wait until the last minute to book as finding hotel rooms can be a problem, especially on weekdays.
To book your accommodation in Aix, click on this affiliate link which will redirect you to our partner booking.com… or use the interactive map below:
Things to do in Aix
Looking for activities and things to do in Aix and its surroundings? Check out the offers from our partner Get Your Guide:
The major events in Aix
Aix-en-Provence is a vibrant city… there will certainly be an event organised during your visit!
Festival international d’art lyrique
The most important cultural event in the city is undoubtedly the International Festival of Lyric Art.
Its programme is regularly broadcast by several national television stations. It is an opera and classical music festival created in 1948 and held every summer. It is one of the great European opera festivals, with a particular affinity for the operas of Mozart.
The performances are now spread over several sites: the courtyard of the former archbishop’s palace, the Théâtre de l’Archevêché, the Grand Théâtre de Provence, the Théâtre du Jeu de Paume and the Hôtel Maynier d’Oppède.
Other festivals and cultural events
Other notable cultural events include:
- the Easter Festival,
- the Festival de la Chanson Française du Pays d’Aix,
- the literary festival “Le Printemps des lettres méditerranéennes”,
- the Zic Zac Festival and
- the Rencontres du neuvième art, devoted to comic strips and organised annually since 2004.
How to get there
Aix-en-Provence is easily accessible by car from Paris, Lyon and Marseille, via the A5, A6, A7 and A51 autoroutes (French for motorways).
For your parking convenience, there are park-and-ride facilities (€2.20/day + free bus) all around the city. Find out more here.
The closest airport is the Aéroport International Marseille-Provence which is 25 km from the city centre of Aix with a shuttle bus every 30 minutes.
If you travel from America or Australia, you might prefer to take a flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle. Then, travel by TGV from the airport station straight to Aix-en-Provence. There you can catch a shuttle bus downtown (18km).
The Aix TGV station is 15 km from the city centre. It reaches Paris in less than 3 hours and Lyon in 1 hr. Shuttle bus every 30 minutes.
The town also has a train station in the city centre which serves Marseille, Gardanne, Manosque, and Sisteron.
Pin it for later!
Aix-en-Provence: Find out more!
All our pages about Aix-en-Provence on the blog:
- Aix-en-Provence History: A Brief Account
- Aix-en-Provence Old Town: A Discovery Guide
- Cours Mirabeau, Aix-en-Provence
- Aix-en-Provence Cathedral: A Discovery Guide
- Place de l’Hôtel de Ville of Aix-en-Provence
- Place d’Albertas: an elegant square in Aix-en-Provence
- The Calissons of Aix: a Specialty Candy from Provence
- Montagne Sainte-Victoire: the iconic mountain of Aix
- Around Aix-en-Provence: 10 Beautiful Places to Visit
More info about Aix-en-Provence:
- Discover the historic and cultural region of Provence on the blog
- Visit the Tourist office board of Aix-en-Provence
- Read more about Aix-en-Provence old town on Wikipedia
- Book your accommodation in Aix-en-Provence