What to do in Aix? I haven’t broken it up into two hour increments like the New York Times did but here is a list of what to see and do while visiting Aix.
First, make a stop at the Tourist Information Center across from the huge fountain at the Rotunde and get a map of Vieil Aix. It will help you find places as the old part of Aix can be confusing with its winding streets and dead ends. You will find that Cours Mirabeau is the heart of Aix lined with it’s lovely plane trees and decked with fountains and it’s a good place to have a drink and watch tourists and fashionable women stroll by.
Good King Rene stands at the opposite end of la Rotunde. He is holding a bunch of muscat grapes in one hand, something he brought to Provence.
Go south to find the Mazarin section of Aix, especially the Place des Quatre Dauphins. Go north to enter into Vieil Aix where shops, cafes and markets of every kind fill the narrow lines and squares.
I especially like this clock tower next to the Hotel de Ville. It’s a really nice sqaure. When the market here is finished, it is filled with tables for drinks and eats. Continue on up the street past the tower and you will arrive at the Cahtedral St Saveur, a must see. It is a mix of centuries of additions with a lovely 5th century baptistry with recycled colums from the temple of Apollo which once stood here. There are fabulous carved wooded doors that are covered but you can arrange to see them by asking at the office in the church. There is also a wonderful 12th century cloister which is opened once or twice a day at scheduled times. The cathedral, by the way, is closed for lunch.
My favorite thing in the cathedral, over on the furtherest wall to the left, is this dragon. Martha was said to have captured it after it had been terrorizing the villagers. Martha along with two Marys of Biblical times were believed to have come to France after Christ was gone so you will find many places and churches connected with this belief.
You will find these medallions all over Aix and you can get a map and follow them to various buildings and areas having to do with Cezanne was lived and painted in Aix and the surrounding areas. You can find his atelier at 9 Ave. Paul Cezanne where you can see where he did his still-lifes. You won’t find a museum with his paintings here though, although the city did have a really good show of his art a few years ago.