9+ Unusual Things to Do in Aix-en-Provence

Stroll through Pavillon de Vendôme, where whispers of romance bloom, but will the secret garden's mystery be revealed? Discover...
Date Published
March 8, 2024

Table of Contents

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Ever wondered if there's a place on Earth that captures the essence of beauty, culture, and adventure all draped in the vibrant hues of Provence? Aix-en-Provence is not just a pit stop; it's a treasure trove of experiences, whispering tales of romance in the Pavillon de Vendôme's lush gardens and uniting history with the timeless art at the Granet Museum. Imagine the harmonious chorus of Aix's intimate jazz clubs, the seductive aroma of freshly-baked Calissons d'Aix that dances through the air, and the serenity that comes from gazing at the lavender fields that stretch like a painter's masterpiece.

Yes, you can immerse yourself in that very painting. From the rejuvenating embrace of a Thermes Sextius spa to the tranquil trails of Montagne Sainte-Victoire, where Cézanne found inspiration, Aix is a canvas of possibilities. With every cobblestone whispering secrets of the past, your visit to Aix is more than a journey—it’s an odyssey of the senses. Let's peel back the layers of this Provençal gem, discover its heartbeats, and reveal why Aix-en-Provence is the dreamy escapade you didn't know you were searching for.

Stroll the Serene Pavillon de Vendôme Gardens

Picture this: you're wandering through the romantic gardens of the Pavillon de Vendôme, a hidden gem tucked away in the bustling heart of Aix. Imagine every breath you take filled with the sweet scent of roses and jasmine, with the soft whisper of historical tales floating through the air. The gardens are a living masterpiece, painted with all the tranquility you could dream of.

Whether you're cozied up with your sweetheart or meandering solo, these gardens are the perfect spot to unwind. You've got the cool shade from age-old trees and the sun's gentle kiss on the lazy lawns - it's like Mother Nature herself set up a spa day just for you. It's a haven of green elegance that's straight out of a classic French romance novel, and here you are, living it!

Look around, and you'll notice that this place isn't just for lovebirds. It's a scene that beckons families, friends, and even the introspective lone wolves to take a second and just be. Kids dart around in giggles, couples share whispers by the fountains, and folks like you find that perfect bench to pen down thoughts or indulge in a good ol' book.

You've got endless corners to explore, and here's the best part - it doesn't take all day. Nah, a leisurely hour or two will do just fine to soak it all in. And hey, if the walls of the 17th-century mansion could talk, they'd tell you tales of the French aristocracy that would make your head spin.

Want the inside scoop? The Pavillon de Vendôme is a spot that locals proudly whisper about and visitors wish they'd known sooner. So buckle up your comfy shoes, because you, my friend, are in for a delightfully serene treat. The pure essence of Aix's elegance whispers through these gardens, and now, it's calling your name.

Unwind in a Traditional Thermes Sextius Spa

Imagine stepping into an oasis of calm, where the air is tinged with the scent of lavender and rosemary. At Thermes Sextius, you're not just treating yourself to any old spa day; you're plunging into centuries of relaxation tradition. So kick off those sneakers, forget about the bustle of your nine-to-five, and let's dive into some serious chillaxing.

Founded by the Romans, this spa has perfected the art of unwinding over millennia. Whether you're sore from hoofing it around town or you just need a break from life's daily grind, Thermes Sextius has got your back (and your shoulders, and your legs, and your... well, you get the picture).

Spend a few hours, or hey, why not a whole day? Slipping into the thermal baths is a no-brainer, but this place is crammed with ways to help you relax. Count on saunas, steam rooms, and treatments that feel like they're straight out of a heavenly cookbook—think essential oils and clay wraps that'll have your skin saying, "Oh, la la!"

Perfect for anyone really, whether you're flying solo or with your better half. It's a treat-yourself kind of spot that leaves you feeling like a million bucks without having to actually spend it. Trust me, by the time you're done, you'll be so Zen, you might just forget where you left your flip-flops.

And it's not just about what's inside the spa. Step outside, and you're smack dab in the heart of Aix-en-Provence, with its charming streets just begging for a post-spa stroll. Now, ready to embrace that Thermes Sextius relaxation? Get your spa on and see why this is the rejuvenation station that locals and travelers rave about.

Savor the Flavors at an Aix Culinary Delights Tasting

Picture this: You're wrapped in the cozy ambiance of a charming French kitchen, the air infused with a symphony of aromas that could make your taste buds dance the sirtaki. Got it? Great, because we're diving straight into the heart of Aix-en-Provence, a slice of heaven for anyone who dreams in flavors and lives to eat.

Imagine sampling an array of Aix culinary delights, each offering a burst of local tradition and a whisper of innovation, all in one bite. From savory tapenades spread on crispy baguettes to sweet calissons that melt on your tongue like a sugary kiss, this experience is not just about eating; it's about tasting a culture.

So, who's this mouthwatering adventure for? Absolutely everyone, from the solo explorer chasing gastronomic thrills to the family of foodies looking to bond over shared plates. And you better believe that couples will find this a flavorful prelude to a romantic stroll through cobbled streets. You'll want to clear at least a couple of hours for this tasty quest, as each morsel deserves its moment and trust me, you'll want to savor every second.

Adjacent to the vibrant markets where these delicacies are born, a culinary tasting is the perfect pitstop. It's the ideal warm-up act before you shop like a local or cool down after hiking the awe-inspiring Montagne Sainte-Victoire.

You'll leave with more than just a happy belly, my friends. Your mind will buzz with new knowledge about Provençal cooking secrets, the kind that you can whisk back home to impress at your next dinner party.

Now, don't just sit there salivating – get out there and taste Aix-en-Provence! And if you need more info on where to find the best bites in town, just follow your nose... or click right here for the lowdown on the ultimate Aix culinary delights tasting. Cheers to your next delicious adventure!

Hike the Tranquil Montagne Sainte-Victoire

Imagine lacing up your hiking boots and hitting the trails of the majestic Montagne Sainte-Victoire. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, it's a dream you can make a reality. Montagne Sainte-Victoire isn't just a pretty face in the backdrop of Provence—it's your playground for an adventure that'll have your social media pals double-tapping with envy.

So, how long are the hikes? You've got options ranging from 3 to 5 hours. That's plenty of time to get lost in nature (not literally, please stick to the trails) and snap some Instagram-worthy panoramas.

But why would you bother to summit this Provençal icon? Here’s the scoop: Montagne Sainte-Victoire is more than a hiker's haven. It's a slice of peace and tranquility that elevates you above the hustle, bustle, and anything that remotely smells like rush hour traffic.

And just who is this hike perfect for? Whether you’re a lonesome wanderer seeking solitude or a bunch of friends spicing up your group chat with some nature vibes, the trails here are calling. Families with kiddos who have a bit of extra pep in their step can also have a blast here—just be sure the little ones can handle the hike.

Expect to share the trails with friendly locals and wide-eyed tourists alike. And what’s nearby? Well, you can always quench your post-hike thirst in one of the charming Aix cafés.

Bottom line: strap on your boots, fill up that water bottle, and set off on a hike at Montagne Sainte-Victoire. It's the kind of unusual, incredibly calming experience that adds that ‘Wow, I’m glad I did this’ moment to your Aix adventure.

Discover Art at the Lesser-Known Fondation Vasarely

Picture this: you're strolling through Aix, you've checked out the popular spots, but now you're on the hunt for something a bit off the beaten path. Enter Fondation Vasarely, a hidden gem that packs a visual punch with its mind-bending optical art. You're not just looking at art; you're stepping into it!

Founded by Victor Vasarely, the mastermind of op-art, this unique foundation showcases a collection that's sure to dazzle your eyes and challenge your perception. Here's why Fondation Vasarely should make your must-see list:

  • Unique Aesthetic: Unlike the classical pieces you'd find at the Granet Museum, Fondation Vasarely's art collections warp reality with geometric shapes and interactive features. It's like walking into a kaleidoscope!
  • Interactive Exhibits: The artwork here isn't just for staring. You get to be a part of the experience! This place is perfect for those who like to interact with art.
  • Architectural Marvel: The building itself is a work of art. Its design reflects the essence of Vasarely's vision: creating a space that bridges art and architecture.

It's ideal for art aficionados looking for that je ne sais quoi or families wanting to inject a little fun into their cultural outings. And the best part? It's a great indoor activity, perfect for when that Provençal sun gets a touch too toasty.

Expect to spend around an hour here, but honestly, with how captivating each piece is, time might just slip away. Plus, it's situated away from the main tourist throngs, letting you enjoy a slice of serenity alongside stunning visuals.

So, if you've got that creative itch and a thirst for something different, make your way to the Fondation Vasarely. Trust me, your Instagram feed will thank you for it – it's a photographer's paradise! Don't just take my word for it, check it out for yourself and see why it's one of Aix's best-kept secrets.

Tour the Historic Atelier Cézanne Home

Imagine stepping into a time warp, the scent of oil paints mingling with the aura of genius. That's what it's like inside the Atelier Cézanne, the well-preserved studio of Paul Cézanne, one of the most influential artists of the 19th century. Nestled on the Lauves Hill, this charming atelier invites you into Cézanne's personal space, where he created some of his most famous works.

Visiting the Atelier Cézanne is like flipping through pages of art history; the studio is brimming with his belongings that inspired his masterpieces. It's where the magic happened, folks—the birthplace of those rugged landscapes and still-life paintings that turned the art world upside down.

You can almost hear the gentle rustle of the brushes and the contemplative silence that filled the room as Cézanne meticulously worked on his canvases. The light filtering through the large north-facing window sets the perfect mood, casting a serene glow on the easels and artifacts that Cézanne touched with his own hands.

Now, let's talk about what makes this place special for everyone—from art lovers to those who can't tell a Picasso from a pizza. It's the vibe. You're walking in the footsteps of a legend, in the exact spot where he stood to ponder over his palettes and pigments. This is not your everyday museum stroll; it's a personal journey into the life of a man who transformed the art world.

A visit here typically takes about an hour, giving you ample time to soak in the quiet mystique of the place. Whether you're a solo traveler with a keen eye for art or a family looking for a slice of history, you'll find it here.

And the best part? This gem is tucked away from the bustling tourist spots, so you can enjoy a laid-back visit. It's perfect for when you need a breather from all your Provence adventures.

So lace up your walking shoes, and whisk yourself off to where Cézanne's spirit still dances among the olive trees. Trust me, you don't want to miss this brush with greatness.

Attend a Performance at Aix's Intimate Jazz Clubs

Swing into the rhythm! What's a night in Aix-en-Provence without a little music to spice it up? You've got it – jazz clubs, my swing-savvy friend! These cozy corners of melodic bliss are just the ticket for travelers with a tune in their heart and a tap in their toes.

You'll find some of the most atmospheric spots snuggled in hidden alleyways, where the sultry sounds of saxophones spill out into the cobblestoned streets. It's not just background music; it's an immersive experience that grabs hold of your soul and doesn't let go until the final applause. You'll swoon, you'll sway, you'll be begging for one more song.

The jazz scene here is like that charming, quirky friend who knows all the best spots – the kind that locals love and visitors rarely discover unless they're in the know. This isn't just about catching a show; it's about connecting with the pulse of the city. You, a glass of wine, and the embrace of improvised tunes – oh, it's pure magic!

What makes these clubs a must-visit on your Aix-en-Provence to-do-list? Well, it's simple: they're intimate. You're not just a face in the crowd; you're part of the family. Whether you're a jazz aficionado or a casual listener, the artists make you feel right at home. And the passion? It's infectious.

These clubs are perfect for everyone – couples, solo adventurers, and certainly a group of friends ready to be intoxicated by the music, rather than just the wine. And speaking of wine, many of these clubs serve up a fine selection of local vintages, making for a night where every sense is delighted.

Spend an evening – or hey, why not every evening you're in town? – soaking in the soulful essence of Aix. From soft ballads to lively swing, the soundtrack of this ancient city will serenade you in a way you've never imagined. So, when the sun sets, follow the sound of jazz wafting through the air. Trust me, it's an experience that resonates beyond the night.

Indulge in Rare Sweet Treats at Local Calissons Shops

Picture this: You're ambling through the charming streets of Aix, sun-kissed and buzzing with the delight that only comes from discovering something special and sweet. Your mission? To indulge in the legendary Calissons d'Aix, a treat that's as much a piece of art as it is a bite of dessert.

Calissons are a big deal here. And you know why? Because they're an almond-shaped ticket to flavor town, that's why. These sweet treats are concocted from candied fruit paste and ground almonds, topped off with a delicate layer of royal icing. But wait, it gets better. Each Calisson is crafted with such care that you'd think they were family heirlooms!

When you step into a local Calissons shop, you're not just grabbing a quick snack; you're embarking on a culinary adventure. The shops are cozy, with an aroma that hugs you like your grandma. You'll want to spend a good half-hour here, trust me. It's not just a treat; it's an experience that tickles all five senses.

  • Discover the history: Calissons have been around since the 15th century - talk about a throwback!
  • Watch the magic happen: Some shops might even show you how they're made, and that's a backstage pass you don't want to miss.
  • Taste the variety: Don't stop at one; try the classic version, then a modern twist – maybe lavender or pistachio? Go wild!

The crowd here? Oh, it's a delicious mix of locals who know what's up and tourists who struck gold. It's perfect for families looking for sweet memories, couples on a romantic getaway, or solo travelers eager to savor the genuine flavors of Aix.

And when you finally (reluctantly) walk out with a box hugged close, ready to be treasured or gifted, you'll know that these Calissons are more than just confections. They're a little piece of Aix-en-Provence, a sweet souvenir that captures the essence of this sun-drenched paradise. It's not just your taste buds that'll thank you; your whole soul will too. So go ahead, step into that Calissons d'Aix shop and let the indulgence begin!

Immerse in the Local Scene at Aix Outdoor Markets

Visualize strolling through bustling lanes lined with vibrant stalls, inhaling the fresh scents of herbs and flowers, brushing past locals bargaining for the day's freshest produce—welcome to the heart of Provençal life at the Aix-en-Provence outdoor markets. In these markets, not only do you get to taste the local flavor, but you also feel the city's pulse.

With a different kind of energy than the typical tourist spots, Aix's markets are perfect for those who want to understand the local way of life. Among the picturesque streets, you find market squares teeming with colors, textures, and an array of local goods that range from the harvest of sun-drenched fruits to handcrafted soaps that smell like a meadow in spring.

  • For the foodies: You should definitely bookmark an hour or two for the Aix culinary delights. Sample tapenade on crusty bread, savor the region's famous goat cheese, and don't even get us started on the ripe, juicy olives that are like little bursts of sunshine in your mouth.
  • For the art lovers and collectors: Those Provencal fabrics and ceramics? Aesthetic dreams made real. Each pattern tells a story, every plate is a canvas, and you're bound to find a treasure to take home—so make sure there's space in your suitcase!
  • For the community seekers: This is where you mingle with the locals. Families, singles, couples—they're all there. Revel in the chit-chat, even if your French is just bonjour-level. It's the smiles and the laughter that bridge the language gap.

Whether you're there for some serious shopping or just a leisurely wander, these markets are a feast for the senses and are perfect for all ages. Plus, they're a stone's throw from quaint cafes where you can rest your feet and soak up more local vibes with a café au lait in hand. Don't just visit Aix-en-Provence, live it, breathe it—starting with its beloved outdoor markets.

Relish a Glass of Wine from Palette Appellation

Imagine the subtle notes of fruit and the earthy undertones filling your senses as you sip on a glass of exquisite wine. You're doing more than just tasting; you're embarking on a rich, historical journey that dates back to Roman times. The Palette appellation is your ticket to this sensory discovery.

Bold and historical, Palette wines are a rare treasure, kind of like a secret handshake among those who know. These wines aren't just beverages; they're stories in a bottle, each with their own unique background. Not to overstress the point, but you will want to join the club that understands the whispers of these grapevines.

So, where can a wine enthusiast like you indulge in this experience? Visit the wineries nestled in the vine-cloaked hills of Aix-en-Provence. With only a handful of wineries producing Palette wines, you're in for an exclusive tasting trip. Let your taste buds revel in the blend of tradition and terroir that makes these wines stand out.

Here's a sip of advice: don't rush this experience. You'll want to spend an afternoon chatting with the vintners and exploring the cellars. Trust me, these guys have stories that'll make the wine taste even better. Palette is fantastic for small groups or solo explorers who can take the time to truly appreciate the blend.

Raise your glass in an intimate setting, surrounded by the Provencal countryside, and tell your friends you discovered the wine world's best-kept secret. They'll either think you're a connoisseur or a storyteller. Either way, you come out a winner.

Make sure to swirl a glass at Château Simone, an estate draped in history and greenery, adorned with wines that have graced the tables of French nobility. It's a sip of history that's impossible to replicate anywhere else in the world.

Palette wine is more than a drink, it's an experience catered to those willing to step off the beaten vineyard path. A must-do for those who want to say they've truly been to Aix-en-Provence. Cheers to the journey! 🍷

Engage with Provence Traditions in Aix

Picture this: You're bobbing along cobbled streets, the aroma of fresh lavender in the air, feeling like you’ve time-traveled back to a land where traditions are as ripe as the grapes on the vine. That's the magic you step into when diving into Provençal traditions in Aix.

Here's the scoop on embracing that old-world charm - Aix is steeped in hands-on experiences that'll have you crafting like a local artisan. Think pottery making with that distinctive Aix flair or dancing to the rhythm of folk music under the starry southern French sky. Go ahead, let your hair down and twirl to a tambourin beat - it's the local way!

Now, how long should you linger in this cultural wonderland? Set aside at least half a day (more if you can) to truly get into the Provençal groove. Join a workshop early in the day and wrap it up with a heartwarming folk dance as evening falls.

This tradition-packed slice of Aix is not just for the lone wanderers or the lovey-dovey couples, oh no. It's a family treasure trove where kids can get their little hands dirty with clay and adults can dive into the deep end of historic customs. It's like a cultural adrenaline rush without the need for a safety harness!

You can skip the stuffy tourist traps; this is where the real Aix-en-Provence shines through. Just by getting to know these time-honored skills, you're not just making memories, you're becoming part of the living history.

And you won't be roaming for long to find these experiences. Nestled in the heart of the city, these tradition-rich activities are surrounded by quaint cafes and bustling bistros, perfect for a post-crafting coffee or a refreshing apéritif.

So, what are you waiting for? Step off the beaten path and step into the heart of Provençal life. It's where the essence of Aix blooms, and trust me, you'll want to be there to catch it.

Experience Provence Lavender Fields Excursion

Imagine it: endless rows of purple splendor, the air tingling with the fresh fragrance of lavender that seems to whisper secrets of Provence’s heartland. That’s right, buckle up for an extravaganza of the senses with a spellbinding Provence lavender fields excursion.

These delightful fields are more than just a treat for the eyes. They're a symphony for the soul too! No wonder locals and tourists alike flock every year, especially from late June to August, when the lavender is in full bloom. For the most magical experience, you'll want to aim for early July. That's when the purple is at peak poppin' and the fields look like they’ve been painted by Monet himself.

Now, you might be wondering, “How long should I spend wandering these fragrant fields?” Well, gear up for at least a half-day escapade. If you're a shutterbug or a nature enthusiast, you could easily lose track of time, so maybe set a reminder to return to reality.

Speaking of reality, this is not just a treat for the romantics. If you’re the active type, join a guided biking tour that whizzes past these vibrant vistas. Or perhaps a leisurely picnic surrounded by the buzzing bees and fluttering butterflies is what you desire. Families, you're in for a treat, as kids find the fields absolutely enchanting. Singles, breathe in the solitude amongst the blooms, and for those looking for adrenaline, how about a paragliding experience over the purple patchwork?

Remember, these fields are not just a feast for the senses, but also a crucial part of Provence's economy – the lavender distilled is used in perfumes, soaps, and oils worldwide. So why not pick up some authentic lavender products as a fragrant memento of your adventure? Feel the connection, breathe deeply, and take it all in – these moments are what memories are made of.

Now go and frolic (responsibly) in the lavender – it’s waiting just for you!

FAQ

Q: Free things to do in Aix-en-Provence?

A: You can stroll down Cours Mirabeau, explore the lovely streets, visit cathedrals like Saint-Sauveur, and enjoy the vibrant markets—all for free!

Q: Things to do in Aix-en-Provence from Reddit?

A: Reddit users suggest exploring local art galleries, tasting the region's wines, and hiking Sainte-Victoire mountain for amazing views.

Q: Shopping in Aix-en-Provence?

A: Hit the boutiques on Cours Mirabeau for fashion, check out local artisan shops for unique souvenirs, and don't miss the daily markets for fresh goods.

Q: Aix-en-Provence market?

A: You can visit the daily markets in Aix for fresh produce, flowers, and local crafts. The big market days are Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Q: Where to eat in Aix-en-Provence?

A: Try local bistros for traditional Provençal dishes, cozy cafes for a casual meal, and be sure to sample calisson, Aix's famous almond sweet.

Q: Things to do in Avignon?

A: Check out the Palais des Papes, walk across the Pont d’Avignon, and enjoy the performing arts during the famous Festival d'Avignon.

Q: What is Aix-en-Provence best known for?

A: Aix is famous for its classic architecture, thermal hot springs, Cézanne's art, and charming old town vibe.

Q: How do I spend a day in Aix-en-Provence?

A: Spend your day visiting Cézanne’s studio, walking Cours Mirabeau, exploring the Mazarin quarter, and finishing with a meal at a terrace cafe.

Q: Is Aix-en-Provence France worth visiting?

A: Oh, absolutely! It's a cultural hotspot with a beautiful old town, art, and history, plus amazing food and wine.

Q: How long should I spend in Aix-en-Provence?

A: Give yourself at least two days to soak in the art, architecture, markets, and the laid-back Provençal lifestyle.

Final Words

Alright, you’ve just taken a virtual tour with me through Aix's serene gardens, relaxing spas, and the vibrant brushstrokes at Fondation Vasarely. Plus, you've got the inside track on where to taste the best of Aix’s culinary scene, hike its tranquil trails, breathe in the sweet scent of lavender fields, and even savor a glass of local vino. We've covered a lot!

Now, keep these gems in mind for your next adventure. There's so much heart and soul in every corner, whether you're at the jazz clubs, nibbling on calissons, or soaking in the Provençal traditions. So go on, put these things to do in Aix-en-Provence on your list, and watch your days fill with the unique charm that only Aix can offer.

Meet the Author
Aria Ohlsson
Aria Ohlsson, the Instagram storyteller extraordinaire, takes you on adventures through her enchanting narratives. An avid hiker, she scales peaks and weaves tales of mountaintop triumphs. When she's not conquering trails, you'll find her immersed in classic novels, finding inspiration for her next tale.
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