At its west end the Cours Mirabeau reaches the Fountain of the King Rene and his statue where he is holding his famous grapes. From here the Cours runs east past the Fountain of the Nine Canons and at the mid-point past the Fontainne Chaude which oozes 34"C water. At the east end of the Cours is La Rotonda, a 19C elaborate fountain. sited at the center of a traffic rpund-about, which is now named for General de Gaulle.
I was in Aix in early Spring (late March/early April) and this, the most unique and fanciful carousel I'd ever seen, was operating at the far end of the Cours Mirabeau. I photographed it on a Sunday afternoon, when the young families were out in full force, enjoying the watery Spring sunshine. I couldn't believe the fantastical animals & contraptions presented for children to ride -- it makes our American merry-go-rounds seem quite tame in comparison!
Of course every bar or cafe in the historic, center is good for people watching and it goes without saying that all the bars, restos, and cafes on the Cours Mirabeau are. But it was while sitting at Bar de l'Horologie (and I am not even sure it was called that then) at Place de Verdun watching the people shop for their fruits and vegetables in 1994 that I decided to move from Florence to Aix.
The other bar that I liked was right next door. Again I do not know if it was called by the same name that it is today.
In the picture of the market at Place de Verdun, there are no people there at the time the photo was taken because there had been a bomb scare.
These are two of my Axoise friends out for the afternoon on the Cours. Although, it is thought that only tourists sit in the cafes on the Cours, this is definitely not true. If you go there often enough you learn who is who and you learn who the locals are. They go there to see and be seen. My favorite two places to people watch were Les Deux Garcons and Les Grillons.
On my return to Aix in 2006, I sadly learned that my dear Madam MaMan, as I had called her, had died the previous year. I miss her alot.
The Cours de Mirabeau is the central avenue of Aix. It runs from the “Rotonde” roundabout and divides the old city centre area from the university area. I must say that because of its reputation I expected it to be a bit longer. At the far end of it, you can find a statue of good King René (1409-1480). The Cours de Mirabeau is lined with plane-trees (Sycamores) and has several fountains in the middle of the driveway (by the way it is not a through road). On one side you can find terraces (as well as a Monoprix department store) the other side is used for the many markets throughout the week, both during the day as well as during the evening.
The tourist magnet in Aix is the Cours Mirabeau, a rather short (440m) stretch of boulevard hemmed in by two rows of stately and very tall plane trees. At intervals it's broken up with large, natural-looking fountains gushing with water. its sides are lined with elegant 17th- and 18tth-century mansions. Despite its popularity with tourists, the Cours Mirabeau emanates a relaxing and refreshing feel.
Cours Mirabeau is the scenic "main drag" of Aix. It contains several striking fountains. It was also the site of a small street market the day we were in Aix.
The photo shows La Rotonde, a fountain with statues representing Justice, Agriculture, and the Arts, at the start of Cours Mirabeau.
On the cours Mirabeau you will see a Café called "Les Deux Garçons" . This place where you can have a drink and Lunch as well, is more than 200 years old.
It is famous because MIrabeau addressed several revolutionary speeches there just before the French revolution.
Created in 1649 and refurbished just this year, the majestic tree-lined Cours Mirabeau is often described as the most beautiful street in France. Well, it is pretty, but not as wonderful as all that. It's not even the most beautiful in Aix, really, but it is the Main Street in many ways.
Coming from the Rotonde in high summer, you will find the Cours a welcome break from the beating sunlight, with it's shady plane trees. On the left hand side of the street is the bustle, for this is where the cafes are. Pass Le Festival, and you have Le Bistro Roman, and Movenpick ice creams (they do marvellous, if small, milkshakes - get the Tequila Sunrise one. Mmmwwaah!). This is the heart of chic Aix, the bourgeois capital of the south. Further on is Monoprix, the supermarket, outside of which can be found a fat but much-loved crepes man (with a match in his mouth, always), who in the winter swaps the crepes for roasted chestnuts, whose smell will drive you crazy! Next is the Librairie de Provence, a grand bookshop which sells foreign magazines and newspapers. Further up is Quick, the fast food restaurant that is Really Slow (see my Belgium pages for explanations!!). Les Deux Garcons, where Cezanne used to drink, is just a bit further up, and at the end is the Papeterie Michel, which sells stationary and cards and art materials for all. Aix is really a town for the artist in you.
Up and down the centre of the Cours are a series of fountains, very small, very old. The one outside Monoprix is covered in moss, but further up is one that may be even mossier, but brings forth warm water - this is part of Aix's legacy as a thermal spa town, whose history goes back to the Roman times.
On the other side of the Cours, the southern side which borders the classy Quartier Mazarin, can be found banks, not cafes. However, if you fancy watching a film, there is the Renoir cinema, which shows films in VO (original language).
The Cours Mirabeau has some of the finest fountains. This one at La Rotonde at the bottom end of the 'cours' is from 1860. The Fountain of 9 Cannons, half way up, dates back to 1691. Another block up the 'cours' is the moss-covered hot-water fountain dating back to 1734. King René's Fountain, at the top of the 'cours' was built in the 19th century.