Architectural and Cultural Patrimony
Aix-en-Provence is famous for its historic and cultural heritage, and attracts a large number of visitors from the entire world every year.
The stature and charm of private hotels, the soft murmur of its ancient fountains, the bright colors in its markets, the crowded cafe terraces in the shade of the old plane trees, the beauty of the Aix countryside surrounding the peaceful villages dominated by Mount Sainte Victoire and immortalized by Cézanne, will all make you want to revisit Aix-en-Provence.
A number of different walking tours are being offered. The brochure "Visite d'Aix" is available at the Tourism Office.
Aix en Provence has always known how to maintain the wealth of its architectural patrimony.
The 11th century was the start of an urban rebirth. Aix inherited the St Sauveur Cloister and the Cathedrale which, amongst other treasures, hides the Ste Mitre tomb and Flemish tapestries.
The Law Courts, the suburbs, the 12th century convents (the "Commanderies des Hospitaliers" of St Jean de Malte) give evidence of the presence of the Comtes de Provence.
In 1409, under the reign of Louis II, Aix is a political and judicial capital. Under the reign of "good Roi René", the St Sauveur Cathedral is completed. In front of the Law Courts the Place des Prêcheurs is opened. The gigantic town planing campaign, under M. Mazarin's initiative (1646), has nearly doubled the surface of Aix en Provence. At this time many Mansion Houses were built with for the Aristocracy.
In the 17th century the Cours Mirabeau appears where the old medieval ramparts were. A century later the cafés open. Squares and fountains help to make the decor more attractive, e.g. the famous Place des 4 Dauphins with its original fountain built in 1667.
The aixois Patrimony is open to everybody because it is situated in a "natural decor", you only have to walk around the town to notice it.
In the centre of the town, the Archbishopric, the Beffroi, the town hall, the Vendôme Pavillon, the Saint Sauveur church, the Saint Jean de Malte church, public buildings, churches, elegant and charming Mansion Houses (about 190), all create will the famous Cours Mirabeau and amongst the many peaceful fountains, the very attractive and special atmosphere of Aix en Provence.
With its 36 vestiges or monuments and its 9 museums and foundations, Aix offers to its visitors wonderful cultural sites.
The museums welcome many visitors (a total of 174 092 in 1993). the Granet Museum, the Cézannešs workshop, The Natural History Museum are in the lead by their number of visitors.