28.5.12

Aix-en-Provence



Before “returning” to Paris again, another post from my recent trip to Provence, this time about Aix-en-Provence.

Several cities have the name of Aix, the origin of this name being the Roman Aqua, for water. The Romans looked for hot water springs and gave this city the name of Aquae Sextiae, founded in the year 122 BC by Gaius Sextius Calvinius as the first Roman city in what today is France - after the destruction of a Ligurian oppidum just north of the present city.

Today Aix-en-Provence is a major cultural centre with its important university, its music festival during the summer weeks… and also with different public institutions like an important Appeal Court.

As many cities in the south, Aix-en-Provence has a definite, particular, atmosphere, light… and the high number of students brings a lot of life to the city (also late nights), full of cafés, beautiful several centuries old “hôtels particuliers”, open places, squares… .







I found this particular light and atmosphere also during a visit here in January this year, although the trees were naked.


There are of course a number of churches, including the Cathedral of the Holy Saviour (5th – 17th century)…



… and not only church towers but also the one of the Town Hall from 1510.


As said, the hot water springs attracted the Romans and there are numerous fountains around the city, including very ancient ones on the central street, Cours Mirabeau, covered by moss and other vegetation, and the more recent Rotunda Fountain.


Aix is also an artist city, particularly known for having been Cezanne’s home town. The different paintings he made of his beloved Sainte-Victoire Mountain are especially well-known. The studio he built north of the city centre can be visited (but not photographed inside). The trees of the surrounding little park have grown since.


15 comments:

Jeanie said...

This is one of those towns I've longed to visit for a long while, especially after a photographer friend here went there and came back with photos to rival yours -- and that's hard! I'm so delighted to "see" this part of France with you!

Nikon said...

Great pictures, Peter. I like the shots from January, too, they give a nice contrast.

Alison said...

I too have wanted to visit Aix for years...without knowing much about it! Thanks for the tour, so I'll know what I'm missing 'til I get there.

French Girl in Seattle said...

Wonderful Peter. I have not been to Aix in years, so I enjoyed your story today (and the incredible photos, bien sûr!) So you have been on the road quite a lot lately, haven't you? A bientôt, Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Catherine said...

This all looks very familiar...I loved the town of Aix when I visited it in Feb and the light is quite wonderful - you have captured it all so beautifully in these shots...

ALAIN said...

Les terrasses des bars et restaurants envahissent de plus en plus les villes du sud de la France. Certaines places deviennent complétement inaccessibles aux promeneurs. Le phénomène gagne les plages où le nombre de "paillotes" augmente chaque année... et en plus, il y a des méduses !

Ola said...

what a vivid place, lovely street pictures!


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Studio at the Farm said...

Oh, what a beautiful city, Peter! Your photos are so inspiring.

SusuPetal said...

Oh, such a charming place,I enjoy the tranquility of your photos.

Starman said...

Another great post. Almost went to Aix-en-Provence once but never made it. Maybe one day.

Pamela said...

Fantastic photos and thanks for the great history lesson!

claude said...

Ton post complète la visite que j'y ai faite, il y a dejà fort longtemps. C'est une très belle ville.

Cergie said...

Il y a Aix-les-Bains bien sûr dont le nom est donc pléonasme ?
Cette place-rue avec des platanes (que je n'espère pas malades
Les bars sur la place-rue me rappellent Lyon ou Crest dans la Drôme pas provençale. Car on y boit de la clairette de Die dans des flutes. Et toi ? Qu'as tu donc commandé dans ce verre ?
(A Aix-en-Provence les gens habitent et ils travaillent à Marseille)

Ruth said...

Your post makes me remember again that we need to visit Provence. My former boss used to visit Aix every summer for six weeks, because he wife teaches French in an American high school, and she takes students there. It is so beautiful! I love the light, and it is even beautiful in January.

It is hard to imagine the age of this city. But I thank you also for sympathizing with me and my 100-year-old building and its demise.

Kittie Howard said...

Denise pointed me toward your blog. Happy she did. Love your photos. Oh, but the light is magnificent. Thanks for the history. We've never traveled that area. It's on the list now!