As I said earlier I was extremely laid back on my day in Aix. So laid back in fact, that I didn't even take the time to get my camera out of my bag but chose to take photos on my phone ( and not very good photos at that).
This was a lovely church however, right in the centre of the Old Town and it featured a wonderful gilded statue of Pope John Paul II as well as one of the most brilliant paintings of the Crucifixion that I have ever seen. The church dates back to the first half of the eighteenth century. Please pardon the blurry photos.
Aix en Provences's favourite son is of course the Post Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne. He was born in Aix and died in Aix at the age of 67. He had a very colourful artistic career with his style of painting going through various changes throughout. Cezanne went through a particularly dark few years mid-career which is attributed to bouts of severe depression. At this time his paintings were often referred to as macabre as he painted the most dark and depressing subjects set in amongst other places, the morgue. One of his significant paintings during this time was titled "House of the Hanged Man". He was born in 1839 and died in 1906.
The house inwhich he lived is now open to the public and whilst there is a small charge to enter the house, the gardens can be visited free of charge. This wonderful statue can be found in the inner city not far from the Rotunda Fountain.
Just like so many European towns and cities, the main central area of Aix en Provence is a maze of quirky and very interesting little streeets. It is so easy to while away time without even noticing how long you have been strolling around.
There are many lovely little shops and cafes and of course the obligatory patisseries and ice creameries, many of which stand shaded by leafy green trees in the most wonderfully picturesque little squares. Is it any wonder that I didn't bother taking notes when to do so, would have really intruded on this refreshing and relaxing day.
When you get off the bus in Aix, you then head off to the old town area along the Cours Mirabeau. Just before you get to the main city area, you will come across this wonderful sprawling fountain.
It was built in or around 1860 and has three figures on top which depict Art, Agriculture and Justice.
There are literally hundreds of fountains in Aix, but this one is arguably among the most popular.
In the picturesque square of Place de Hotel de Ville is a boar fountain in the same design as that in one of the squares in Florence, Italy. There are several cafes and specialty stores as well as a farmers market in the morning.
From Place Rotunda to the Fountain of King Rene there are a number of fountains along the Cours Mirabeau, including the Fountain of Nine Cannons and one of the most interesting being the Fountain of Hot Water where it is fed by a hot water spring.
In every part of Aix one will encounter fine mansions (Hotels) covered with fine decorations of stone. One of these is the Hotel d'Alberas which extends along three sides and has a fountain in its front open area. Further east is the Palais de Justice in the Pl. de Verdun. next to the Church of Sainte Madelaine in the Pl. des Precheurs, initiallly finished in 1274.
This is the oldest church in Aix, only slightly older than the cathedral. They came here to protect the road to Santiago in 1180 and built their church in the next century. It has a prominent belfry and some interesting paintings and a large east wall window with 19C panes
Off the southern segment of the nave of the church is the 5C Baptistry with an octagonal shape. It is created with six tall marble columns and two granite ones. It is topped with a fine dome above its octagon. Do not miss this!
One of the prominent views in the city is the Clock Tower next to the Hotel de Ville. The basic instrument was built in 1510 and expanded in the 17C with a Calendar which changed with the seasons and a belfry of 1661 plus an astronomical clock.
The CLEAN STUDIO is where Frederic Fekkai got his start. I had my hair cut there long before I had ever heard of him and the girl who cut it asked me if I knew of him. I said no and she was amazed. Now, of course, I think every one has heard of him. He is that gorgeous guy who went to New York and got a job in either Bendel's or Bergdorf's and eventually developed a following. He also is known to date socialites.
Frankly, I cannot recommend the Clean Studio anymore because it has been about 13 years since I have been there and they are surely to have gotten new personnel.
In case you are interested, though, here is a picture of Frederic on his website.
No wonder he developed a following. BTW his partner was equally as good goodlooking with prematurely white hair and a beautiful tanned face, but obviously he had a different fate from Frederic.
Another famous person from Aix who is in a related industry, is the designer, UNGARO.
The tourist office can point you to various 'dégustation' places. You'll probably find various leaflets about winetasting there as well.
and for regional wine tasting:
With Googlemaps or www.viamichelin.com you can find how far out the various places are from Aix-en-Provence.
Since Antiquity, Aix en Provence is famous for its hot and cold curative water springs. The abundant waters are an exception in Provence.
- On the Cours Mirabeau:
o the Nine Cannons fountain (from 1651). Taken over by vegetation, it is difficult to make out the designs that decorate it.
o the Hot Water fountain, called "mossy" (1667 and transformed in 1734). It is fed by the thermal spring of the Bagniers.
- On the Albertas Square, a fountain with a cast iron basin built by the students of the School of Arts and Crafts Occupations of Aix.
- The Four Dolphins Fountain, o, in the Mazarin quarter (1667)
Many other fountains are here to be discovered, with a lot of charm.
Our first stop in Old Town was to Saint Sauveur Cathedrale. It is almost beyond description. According to legend, it was built on a temple to Apollo. Construction occured over several centuries and the cathedral is a mind-boggling mix of architectural styles. There is a Roman gate on one side and a gothic gate on another. Inside, there are three distinct naves - one gothic, one roman and one baroque. Then there's the cloisters - oh my.
We were there on a Sunday and they do allow tourists to (pay and) enter. We arrived shortly before mass began and I actually got scolded by a priest! I had been so taken by the organ and gorgeous ceiling, that I was filming and hadn't noticed the mass had begun. It's a funny and embarrassing story whenever someone views my trip movies as you suddenly hear a priest scolding me in French and then see his hand sweep in and cover my lens. If you go on a Sunday, it would be wise to exercise more caution than I did!
We then visited 'government center' in Aix. The clock tower is extraordinary. It houses the astronomic clock with four wooden statues and changes with each of the four seasons. Hotel de Ville (City Hall) was a beautiful building. We were also taken by La Halle aux grains, which is now a post office. The facade is richly decorated and I especially loved the woman (I believe the goddess of fertility) with her leg dangling over the side.
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