Aix-en-Provence is the princess town of the Provence area, a nice cosy little town that is very famous for its student life and for Cézanne, the french painter. Cézanne was born in Aix-en-Provence and his atelier is the star attraction in town, his house, where he lived in also in town and you can follow the signs on the street to do the same path the painter did to go from his house to his atelier. The atelier is located outside the city centre on a hill with incredible views, he used the inspiration of nature to paint and the natural light that came into his studio. He is sometimes considered and impressionist but actually he was unique in his own genre and the impressionist didn’t want anything to do with him.
Cézanne’s father sent him money to survive as many painters like him were not as famous until they died so they were not the richest professions at least for those who didn’t manage to show their value when they were alive.
He had a wife called Hortense, but he didn’t marry her until they have been together for a long time and they already had a child together, little Paul. Cézanne hide his relationship with Hortense from his father so he didn’t stop the money coming but he found out and in the end Hortense and Cézanne got married.
It is interesting to see in his studio the objects he used in his paintings that still remain nowadays, the owner of the studio bought it with the atelier just as Cézanne left it, so luckily most of his belongings and tools were very well-preserved and are exposed in the space.
We had lunch a Le Damo restaurant, the daily menu was 25 euros and the food was delicious a salad with veggies and seared lamb with gratin d’alfinoise -grilled potatoes with cream and onions. And the dessert surprised as all, a tart with lemon curd and decorated with berries.
Aix-en-Provence is a town known by its fountains, it is called the town of the 1000 fountains and in the city you will see plenty although not thousand. There are thermal baths as well that date from Roman times and nowadays they are working and the water comes out at 18º and 25º, not the hottest I have seen but still warm. There is a thermal hotel and from the outside you can see the remainings of the Roman baths that they discovered in the area.
You can tell by walking through Aix streets that it is a posh town, international and local brands that have a well-known reputation and prices are not on the cheap side of the scale. It is a cosy town though and in a day you can visit all the most important tourist attractions being Cézanne the star of them. We visited a local clothes brand from Aix en Provence called Red Soul that already had their ethnic summer collection.
There is a museum called Caumont where they have a 30-minute video about Cézanne and it is interesting to watch it if you are in town as it will give you some information about the painter and his life at the time. The entrance of the museum is 11 euros but don’t expect to see any Cézanne, when we went there was an exhibition of Liechtenstein. There is a very nice cafeteria that is like an old tea shop, decorated in pink and you can see their cakes exposed, I would recommend you to pass by.
We went to the local market in the main square, it is a true experience smelling at the cheese and the french saucisson along with the lavender smell from a stall that they sell different kinds of lavender products. Right next to the town hall, is the central clock of Aix en rovence, there is a bell and the famous astronomical clock. The clock is from 1661 and it has inside 4 statues made of wood that represent each season of the year. When there is a change of season, the statues move and is turn for the next one to be shown in the façade until the next season comes along.
I had to buy some french typical products and I went for a saucisson and two kinds of cheese, some spicy olives and artisan bread, this is one of the things I love the most about going by train, no plane restrictions and food is allowed!
We stayed at Le jardin de Marie, a bed and breakfast, very cosy near the centre of town and I was delighted with their attention detail, we had in our room the famous sweets in town called callison that are made of almonds. The breakfast was gorgeous as well, with fromage blanc, fresh fruit, granola, cheese and baked croissants. We woke up with the smell of butter, this is one of my favorite feelings when being in France.
The callisson is a sweet specialty of Aix en Provence, they say it was born on 1473 at the wedding celebration of King's René, on his second marriage. He wanted to offer something special for his wife to be and ordered the pâtissier to create a sweet for her. It is said that she didnt smile very much but the moment they handed her the sweet made for her she smiled, this is the legend behind the callison.
On our last day we did a cooking workshop at L'âne nageoires, they do art and cooking courses for children and they also have a shop space in the same studio where they sell products designed by local artists.
Disclaimer: This trip has been possible thanks to Atout france and Tryptic communication. As always the opinion is my own.