Aix-en-Provence is the city of fountains: there are as many as 40 throughout the city. The city has always been famous for its thermal springs and it was called Aquae Sextiae by the Roman proconsul Sestio Calvinio that in 122 BC discovered the healing power of its water. But as early as 102 BC the place became famous because here was fought the decisive battle in which the general Caio Mario stopped the Germanic invaders defining the boundaries of the new province: the Narbonne Gaul.
Aix en Provence: water and calisson
You can feel the history with a capital strolling through the streets of Aix-en-Provence and cross cours Mirabeau, the hub of city life. Along the course, under the plane trees, they follow three fountains and the beautiful carved facades with wrought iron balconies and imposing gates, the hotels particuliers, the ancient palaces of the great families.
Among these the most famous Hotel de Maurel-de-Pontevès, one of the most lavish with the two atlases to the sides of the portal, and the hotel Gantès, that home to Les Deux Garcons coffee.
One of the most interesting fountains is that of the king René, realized in the nineteenth century and one of the three Mirabeau course. It depicts René, Count of Provence to Aix in the fifteenth century guide, holding a bunch of moscato grapes: according to legend was the one who introduced this type of grape in the region.
Even one of the most beautiful is here: the baroque fountain of four dolphins, designed in baroque style by Jean-Claude Rambot.
Bizarre the hot water fountain or “mossy”, the third course Mirabeau, from which water flows at a temperature of 35 ° C that has transformed it into a damp block and green shapes by entirely covered by a soft vegetable mantle.
The walk stretches for 440 meters so it is recommended to stop to enjoy the fragrant and delicious calisson, sweet lozenge of almond paste and candied fruit, specialties town. Or you can turn to the Piazza delle Erbe, where every day you hold a colorful flower, fruit and vegetables market.
Returning to the fountains, absolutely to see and capture is the Grande Fontaine, as it is called by the inhabitants of Aix, decorated with allegorical statues, such as lions, nymphs, dolphins and cupids riding on swans, on which gush the waters that come directly from Verdon gorges.
Fine and elegant the fountain in place d’Albertas and the one in place Augustin, not far from the Porte Royale, which entered the city the kings of France at Aix passage.
In the heart of the old town is the Cathedral of Saint-Saveur, a multiple construction that is disconcerting for its many architectural changes. In fact, it is the presence of three churches were built side by side: the first is Romanesque of the twelfth century; the second is Gothic of the late Middle Ages; the third is Baroque. On the north side stands the imposing octagonal bell tower of the fourteenth century. Even the facade presents various stylistic elements, from the Gothic-flaming with nineteenth statues to Romanic.
While on the west side there is the so-called “Roman Wall” of the canonical cloister. Even the aisles inside are different styles: the Romanesque in 1180 with the octagonal baptistery of the fourth and fifth centuries surmounted by a Renaissance dome, the central Gothic with a fine series of tapestries and that of Notre-Dame de-l’Espérance, erected between 1694 and 1705.
Do not miss a walk in the magnificent cloister, where there are original statues of saints columns of the piers and columns, and the capitals are depicted scenes from the Old and New Testaments.
On the medieval gate of the ancient city walls, next to the Hotel de Ville, it is the Tour de l’Horloge, 1511, with an astronomical clock of 1661.
Hunger? We chose Le Côté Cour (19 cours Mirabeau), for preparations that wink to the Provencal cuisine but with fantasy to be enjoyed in the flower-filled courtyard of a beautiful building sheltered from the crowd parading on the course.
Full you can resume the path towards the studio of Paul Cézanne, born in Aix, in which you can see the objects of the great impressionist painter conserved in this cottage between the city and the d’Entremont heights, with views of Mount Sainte- Victoire, a favorite subject in his paintings.
Ideal for relaxing after a busy day to relax at the small French garden surrounding the Pavillon de Vendôme, building of Renaissance style designed by architects Antoine Matisse and Pierre Papillon on behalf of Caesar de Bourbon-Vendôme, Duke of Vendôme in 1665.