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Elegant Aix (pronounced just like the letter "x") was the capital of all Provence from the 12th century until the French revolution. It’s above all a city of the arts. Arles, just up the motorway, may lay claim to Vincent Van Gogh but Aix honors his Post-Impressionist colleague, Paul Cézanne, who, like the 19th-century novelist, Emile Zola, spent his early years here. Of the city’s many festivals, summer’s major International Festival of Lyrical Art is all about music: opera, classical, and street buskers on every corner, some of a truly professional standard. Aix is unfairly regarded by many French as straight-laced and staid. But visit ...

Elegant Aix (pronounced just like the letter "x") was the capital of all Provence from the 12th century until the French revolution. It’s above all a city of the arts. Arles, just up the motorway, may lay claim to Vincent Van Gogh but Aix honors his Post-Impressionist colleague, Paul Cézanne, who, like the 19th-century novelist, Emile Zola, spent his early years here. Of the city’s many festivals, summer’s major International Festival of Lyrical Art is all about music: opera, classical, and street buskers on every corner, some of a truly professional standard. Aix is unfairly regarded by many French as straight-laced and staid. But visit during the academic year, when more than 30,000 students throng its bars and cafes, and you’ll wonder if they’re describing the same city. Lose yourself in the higgledy-piggledy jumble of lanes in mostly pedestrianized Vieil Aix, the old quarter, where narrow alleys give onto squares where fountains splash. Then gasp and recover your bearings among the plane trees of broad Cours Mirabeau, the city’s grandest and broadest avenue.

Miles Roddis
About the Expert

Miles Roddis has written or contributed to more than 50 Lonely Planet titles including country and regional guides to Spain, France, their Mediterranean island offshoots — and little Andorra.

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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring, July, fall