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The Granet Museum, in the heart of the historic Mazarin quarter of Aix-en-Provence, has an impressive permanent collection which includes Rembrandt, Cézanne, Ingres, Giacometti, Picasso, and Mondrian, along with changing special exhibitions. The museum offers guided tours with special consideration for those with disabilities. Special events include brunch in the garden, drawing sessions, and occasional evenings at the museum.
In the heart of the pedestrian center lies Place des Quatre Dauphins (Plaza of the Four Dolphins) and the fountain of the same name, erected in 1667 and designed by Rambot. Four dolphins, each looking around a mysteriously inscribed obelisk, leap above a small circular pond filled with clear water. The romantic setting reminds one of those old cloak and dagger films. A stroll in this square under the shade of the plane trees to the sound of fresh running water is very pleasant indeed, particularly on sultry summer days.
Built in 1745, this square is identical to the Parisian squares of that era. There has been a fountain here since 1912, which gives it an air of Commedia Dell Arte. The atmosphere is unbelievable; it is easy to imagine a carriage emerging from the Rue Espariat or a lady of the Court appearing on the balcony of one of these splendid palaces. Each summer during the Festival of Lyric Arts, the brightness of the moon floods this crowded square filled with party-goers costumed in 17th-century attire.
Erected in 1860 at the entrance of the present Cours Mirabeau, this fountain is one of the distinctive features of this town. Recently renovated and cleaned after years of neglect, the bronze lions with their striking manes and the three pale and elegant statues all sparkle once again. Swans ridden by stone cherubs verse fresh water gently from their beaks. The water comes from the town's abundant underground source. At nightfall, this square is beautifully lit and allows both visitors and locals to enjoy its peace and beauty.
La Place de l'Hôtel de Ville is the center of beauty and history in Aix-en-Provence. It is flanked by the many architectural wonders that were built around the mid 1600s. It includes the La Tour de l'Horloge (Clock Tower) with its original structure built in 1510. The tower itself underwent many changes and additions and also served as a military outpost. It is fitted with both a bell and a modern astronomical clock and four imposing wooden figurines depicting each season. At the foot of the tower lies L’Hôtel de Ville (City Hall). This classic building overlooks the square and to date is the center of city's activities such as flower markets, parades, and feasts. Lastly, the square is adorned with the La Fontaine de l'Hôtel de Ville (Fountain of City Hall) sculpted by Jean Chastel Pancras that marks the exquisite beauty of the era. Altogether this town square continues to be the heart of the magic and a must-see in Aix-en-Provence.
This gallery is mostly dedicated to Mount Ste-Victoire's famous painter, Paul Cézanne and you can buy posters (heat-treated and varnished on canvas in old-fashioned frames) that are faithful reproductions of the master's work. Here, lovers of the great Aix artist can find etchings, original lithographs and reproductions of his paintings whose prices reflect the state and scarcity of the work. Enthusiasts will admire the original edition of the first publication dedicated to his painting. This book, entitled simply, "Cézanne", was written and published in 1915 by the famous Ambroise Vollard, a gallery owner and buyer of Cézanne's work. Admission is free.
The Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur embraces all architectural styles from the 5th to the 17th Century. It has been formally established that Christianity has existed in Aix-en-Provence since the 4th century. The main testimony to this is Saint-Mitre's white marble sarcophagus, which can be viewed in one of the three naves, erected in three different eras. The Roman nave, Provencal in style, dates from the 12th Century; the Gothic nave was built between 1285 and 1290 and shelters the famous triptych by Froment, and the "Buisson Ardent" ordered by King René, depicts Queen Jeanne. And lastly, the Baroque nave dating back to 1695 is an impressive display of architectural richness of sensibility.
See where Cézanne worked and created masterpieces at Atelier Cézanne. His studio has been preserved to show how he worked and lived. There are guided tours available that lead visitors through rooms of memorabilia. The house is located just a short distance from the center of town - it was purposefully built in a somewhat remote location so Cézanne could paint in privacy.
No less than 42 monumental works by the painter Victor Vasarely are on display in this bright and spacious foundation. The building is notable for its architecture and for the masterly quality of its expansive, sometimes retrospective structures. The foundation also holds diverse exhibitions of contemporary art and is open to the different trends in modern creativity. Days of operation often change so consult the website or call the foundation for more information before your visit.
This astonishing and beautiful mountain rises up outside the village of Tholonet when one goes towards the Côte d'Azur. Most famously it appears in the paintings of Cézanne. The mountain dominates the Aix countryside, a great limestone barrier that refracts the light of the setting sun and perfumes the air with the scents from its wild scrubland and whose way-marked footpaths attract walkers from all over the world who come to marvel at the views over the Rhône and the Esterel.
Head down to Le Parc des Labyrinthes Géants for a day of fun and adventure with the family. Spread over four hectares (9.8 acres) this park boasts one of the world's largest labyrinths. With tall, green hedges cut and shaped like one massive maze, this is the site of immense excitement not just for kids, but for adults as well. Make your way into the maze and choose your own path to the center and out through the other side, but be careful as you might just end up walking in circles. The park also features a myriad of other activities, from trampolines and zip line, to a play area for toddlers.