Article (A) guide: City Landmarks

City Landmarks
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In the heart of Provence, the Aix City Center offers leisurely strolls filled with hidden jewels in the form of elegant fountains, picturesque courtyards, and inspired architecture. In this tour, visit the city's most famous and iconic landmarks and learn about their significance as Aix has grown from an ancient Roman village to the Middle Aged capital of Provence to a modern-day center for justice and cultivation of the arts.

Walk Route

Guide Name: City Landmarks
Guide Location: France » Aix-en-Provence
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 1.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 km
Author: Rachel Holly
Author Bio: Before moving to France in 2007, Rachel - a native Texan - worked in international media sales, traveling the globe to publish economic business reports. Today she is an independent contractor based in Aix-en-Provence, where she lives with her husband.
La Rotonde

1) La Rotonde

The most recognizable landmark in Aix-en-Provence is also the perfect place to begin your orientation: La Rotonde.

Built in 1860, this monumental fountain once marked the town’s entrance with a grand welcoming gesture that was uncommon for cities of that size; 150 years later the city expanded and the fountain now marks the center of the city and the entrance to Cours Mirabeau.

The fountain is adorned with cherubs, lions, and swans along with three graceful statues atop. These statues,...
Cours Mirabeau

2) Cours Mirabeau

Running east from La Rotonde, Cours Mirabeau is Aix’s main thoroughfare. Sycamore trees (or "plane trees" as they are known in Europe) line this wide, pedestrian-friendly road, splitting the town between the Old Town to your left, and the Mazarin Quarter to your right.

The planning for Cours Mirabeau began in 1649, with the Archbishop Mazarin using a garden design typical of the time period to specify that the width of the road should be one tenth of its length. Today numerous...
Place des Quatre Dauphins

3) Place des Quatre Dauphins

Detouring into the Marazin Quarter by way of Rue de 4 Septembre, you’ll find the streets to be laid out in more of a grid pattern than other parts of Aix. This district was created from the lands of the Archbishop’s Palace in 1646 to be incorporated into the town as a new aristocratic residential section. All the residences were designed to open southward into gardens and were enclosed with carriage sheds.

Straight ahead you’ll come upon La Place des Quatre Dauphins (Place of Four...
L’Eglise Saint Jean de Malte

4) L’Eglise Saint Jean de Malte

The Church of St Jean de Malte towers at the end of Rue Cardinale. This was the first Gothic monument built in Provence, estimated to have been constructed between 1272 and 1277 and again renovated in 1646, on the site of a former chapel built by the Knights of Malta. Its steeple is the highest point in Aix-en-Provence, reaching 67 meters. The arrow-shaped bell tower was designed in the architectural style of the Popes of Avignon. Like many other landmarks in Aix, the church’s square is...
Fountain of King René (La Fontaine de Roi René)

5) Fountain of King René (La Fontaine de Roi René)

Marking the eastern end of Cours Mirabeau, this 19th century fountain depicts “Good King René of the 15th Century. Among other titles, René was Count of Provence for nearly 50 years, living in the region during his elder years and dying in Aix in 1480.

He is remembered as Good King René because of his charitable deeds. He is depicted in this statue as holding a bunch of Muscat grapes because he is credited as having introduced them to Provence. The fountain was designed by David of...
Les Deux Garçons

6) Les Deux Garçons

Although it may blend in with the other cafés and brasseries along Cours Mirabeau, Les Deux Garçons is actually a recognized historical site and the most famous brasserie in Aix.

Built in 1792 Les Deux Garçons was a hotspot for local artists, including the painter Cézanne, the writer Zola, and the poet Lamartine; it was even frequented by Ernest Hemingway. Because of these famous customers, today it is appreciated as contributing to the city’s cultural tradition.

Find a spot on the...
Le Palais de Justice

7) Le Palais de Justice

Le Palais de Justice is one of Aix’s most notable landmarks because the city has become a leading judicial center.

The site was formerly the Palace of the Sovereign Counts, or the Palais Comptal. Built in the 13th Century as the governor’s seat, the Parliament of Provence, and the Audit Office, it later also housed the Cabinet and the Treasury in the 16th Century. At the end of the 18th Century it was torn down and rebuilt by the architect Ledoux. The new building was completed in 1832...
La Place d'Albertas

8) La Place d'Albertas

La Place d’Albertas is quietly tucked away in the Old Town of Aix, creating a charming old-world atmosphere.

This square was built in a popular Parisian style, designed by Georges Vallon in the mid-18th Century at the request of the Marquis of Albertas, who lived across the way. He bought the properties, tore them down, and sold the land with the requirement that the facades be rebuilt in the style of his request. The fountain is a more recent addition, built in 1912 and prompted by cracks...
Place Richelme / Halle aux Grains

9) Place Richelme / Halle aux Grains

Each morning Place Richelme is alive with the sounds, smells, and activity of a local produce market. Fruits, vegetables, cheeses, jams, honey…all are fresh and locally grown. City residents come here to collect their daily ingredients and out-of-towners have the opportunity to stroll through and purchase some of the authentic selections.

The market stands in the shadow of the former Halle Aux Grains (the Corn Exchange), which is the northern building of the square. It was built in 1718 by...
La Place de la Mairie

10) La Place de la Mairie

La Place de la Mairie is the quaint town square nestled in the heart of the Old Town, overlooked by the Town Hall (Hôtel de Ville) and the adjacent clock tower. The current town hall was built in the mid-17th Century by Pierre Pavillon, with an impressive doorway leading into the courtyard. The town square itself was built later in 1741, after several houses were torn down to create more space to reflect the classic Italian façade of the Town Hall. The clock tower rises above the square and...
Cathédrale Saint Sauveur (Holy Savior Cathedral)

11) Cathédrale Saint Sauveur (Holy Savior Cathedral)

Standing in front of the Cathedrale Sauveur, take a moment to feel the eras of history around you. Not only are you now in the oldest part of Aix-en-Provence, but the site itself has been considered sacred for thousands of years: there is archeological evidence that a pre-Roman pagan temple and then a Roman temple were built where the Christian church now stands.

From beginning to end the construction of the cathedral took more than 1200 years – from the 5th century to the 17th century -...


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