Planning an Aix-en-Provence itinerary is one of the joys of mapping out a trip to this area of France.
Aix-en-Provence is a charming city in the glorious south of France, known for its rich cultural heritage, varied architecture and stunning natural surroundings.
Founded by the Romans in 123 BC, Aix was once the capital of the Provence region. Today, the city blends its ancient history with a modern vibrancy thanks to several world-renowned universities and a thriving high fashion scene.
With its Mediterranean climate, numerous museums and galleries, an enchanting old town and beautiful parks and gardens, you may be wondering whether you need to spend 1, 2 or 3 days in Aix-en-Provence.
Not only is this city packed full of things to see and do, but it is conveniently situated, just a stone’s throw from some of the South of France’s most beautiful national parks. Use this Aix-en-Provence itinerary to make the most out of your trip.
How Many Days in Aix-en-Provence?
To determine how many days to spend in Aix-en-Provence, it’s important to consider your primary interests and what you want to achieve during your stay in Provence.
If you are passing through, 1 day in Aix-en-Provence is enough to see the city’s main highlights. However, 2 days in Aix-en-Provence will give you more time to fully immerse yourself in the cultural wonders and natural surroundings. Seeing Aix-en-Provence in 2 days is ideal if you really want to get to know the city but don’t have the time for a day trip elsewhere.
If you are lucky enough to be able to spend 3 days in Aix-en-Provence or more in the surrounding area, there are several incredible hidden gems and national parks to discover in the vicinity including Montagne Sainte-Victoire, Alpilles, Calanques, Luberon and Verdon.
Getting To & Around Aix-en-Provence
Reaching Aix-en-Provence is relatively easy, with several convenient transport options to suit a wide range of budgets and travel styles.
Although this city does not have an airport to call its own, just 25km away, you will find Marseille Provence Airport. Offering flights across the globe, this airport is well-connected to the rest of Europe and beyond.
Accessing the Aix-en-Provence from the airport takes around half an hour using a direct ‘Navette’ shuttle bus. Departing from the airport every 15 minutes, the bus is the most convenient way to reach the city centre.
You can also reach the city by train, but travelling by rail can become complicated as the main station, Aix-en-Provence TGV, is 15 km south of the city. Arriving by train means you must still order a taxi or take a bus to reach the city centre. There is a central train station in the old town, but it is only served by one local line.
It’s also worth noting that most trains from other major cities in France require you to switch in Marseille rather than being direct – so you cannot get to Aix-en-Provence directly from cities like Lyon, Nice, Toulouse or even Paris. You can view schedules here.
If you have your own vehicle or a hire car, there are plenty of car parks around the city itself, but most of these are paid by the hour, which will quickly add up. Instead, consider using one of the free Park and Ride car parks on the city’s outskirts, then take the bus into the centre. You can browse car rental options here.
Once you have arrived in Aix-en-Provence, the best way to get around is either on foot or by bike. The city itself is relatively small, with most of the major attractions located within walking distance of each other. If you prefer to explore on two wheels, there are several bike rental companies across the city offering an alternative, eco-friendly way to explore the city.
You will not need to hire a car to spend 1 day in Aix-en-Provence, but if you have an extra day or two to explore the surroundings, hiring a car is an excellent way to reach the national parks and hidden gems not accessible by public transport.
1, 2 or 3 Days in Aix-en-Provence Itinerary
Day 1 – City Centre Highlights
Start your morning by heading into the heart of Aix-en-Provence. Cours Mirabeau is a classic French, tree-lined avenue lined with cafes, gift shops and elegant maisons. Wander under the shade of the plane trees, taking in the beautiful architecture, including the striking statues outside Hôtel Maurel de Pontevès.
Aix is often referred to as ‘The Town of a Thousand Fountains’ with trickling water features around every corner; there are several ancient fountains to see along the Cours Mirabeau.
The largest of these is La Rotonde, an iconic symbol of Aix. This fountain is a picture-perfect scene featured on many postcards of the city.
This is the perfect area to stop for a coffee and a croissant, with plenty of boulangeries and open-air cafes where you can sit and enjoy the Provencal sunshine whilst watching the world go by.
Aix-en-Provence is home to some of the region’s best boulangeries, delicatessens, charcuteries and trattorias. Walk down any street, and your senses will be delighted by the local specialities, but the market is the best way to fully immerse yourself in the sights and smells of Provence’s cuisine.
You can find a daily farmers market from 8am to 1pm in Place Richelme, offering a range of culinary delights. Punnets of strawberries, seasonal mushrooms, apples (and their cider), freshly baked bread and of course, local cheeses.
The main event, however, is the much larger market held three times a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). Stalls selling everything from food to hats, rugs and soaps take over. As you stroll through the stalls, sample some olives, bread and cheese before you buy. You can also take a food tour to learn more about the cuisine of the city.
By the time you reach Cours Mirabeau, the stalls evolve into more of a flea market where you will discover antique treasures, records and second-hand books.
As the midday Mediterranean sun beats down on the city, seek shade with added culture in the Musée Granet. The city’s oldest museum, the building dates back to the 17th century and houses an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures and archaeology.
Here you will find a selection of the famous post-impressionist artist Paul Cézanne’s work. Aix-en-Provence was Cézanne’s hometown, with many of his most renowned landscape pieces featuring Mont Sainte-Victoire, the striking mountain that rises behind the city.
Enjoy Aix’s Cuisine
End your day with a glass of local wine or aperitif at one of the many charming bars or restaurants. Aix-en-Provence may be further away from Italy than the city of Nice, but the local cuisine still combines the best of the Mediterranean and there is certainly some good food to be found.
Choose between pizza and fresh pasta, Spanish-style tapas and more traditional Niçoise dishes such as the Niçoise salad or a comforting ratatouille.
Try Drôle d’Endroit to sample some French classics while enjoying some evening entertainment. After dark, this eclectic restaurant transforms into a centre for arts and performance. With stand-up comedy, poetry slams and music gigs going on late into the night.
Day 2 – Old Town, Atelier Cézanne & Montagne Sainte-Victoire
Old town/Vieil Aix
No Aix-en-Provence itinerary would be complete without featuring the old town, Vieil Aix. It is possible to take a walking tour in the part of the city if you want to explore with a guide.
Start at the town hall, the central hive of activity among the winding cobbled streets and pastel buildings.
Dating back to the 14th century, the town hall is one of the most fascinating buildings in the whole city with its Italian-style Baroque façade, intricately carved wooden door, beautiful inside courtyard and white limestone clock tower.
Each morning the square in front of the town hall is transformed into a bustling flower market. A sea of vibrant roses, tulips and lilies – the streets are filled with beautiful colours and sweet floral fragrances.
The old town fans out from the town hall through narrow alleys and hidden squares; it’s a place you will want to get lost just wandering along the ancient cobbled streets. While discovering the old buildings and many water fountains, consider stopping for a Calissons.
Whilst Aix-en-Provence does not have its own cuisine, these sweet treats are a Provençal speciality. Traditionally made with fruit paste (often melons or oranges) and ground almonds, topped with royal icing.
After viewing some of Cézanne’s works in the art centre that is the Musée Granet the previous day, it’s time to visit his studio. The last studio of the world-famous painter Paul Cézanne, this bright, airy room has been painstakingly preserved.
Jugs, brushes, fruit bowls, his easel, hats and other personal belongings are scattered around the room. You will find a souvenir shop at the entrance selling books and prints of his work.
This is a popular spot on the ‘Cézanne tourism trail’, so it’s best to visit as soon as the doors open to find a slice of the peace and serenity Cézanne must have found here.
Towering over Aix-en-Provence, you can’t miss this iconic limestone mountain. Featuring in over 30 of Cézanne’s paintings, the silhouette of this craggy ridge is recognised worldwide.
Hiking up to the peak is a beautiful 4-hour round trip, boasting far-reaching views across the Mediterranean and even the Alps in the east. If you are not an avid hiker, fear not, there are also some beautiful winding paths through the woodlands, dams and quarries below.
Within just 10 minutes of walking through a tranquil pine forest, you can reach Barrage de Bimont, a large dam surrounded by nature. As long as you are not scared of heights, you can walk across the top of the 87m high dam, taking in the magnificent gorge on one side and the teal lake and mountain views on the other.
The entire area is a natural oasis, fragranced by wild rosemary and thyme bushes. So whether you are into hiking or not, it is worth making the trip out of the city centre for the afternoon.
Pack a picnic using produce you picked up from the market, set up on one of the many benches and enjoy the views down through the valley whilst you enjoy fresh crusty bread, local cheese and a bottle of wine.
The best way to reach the mountain is by car; plenty of car parks have direct access to the footpaths. If you don’t have a vehicle, you can reach the north and south trailheads by bus from the city centre. Take the L110 for the south approach or the L140 for the north.
If you only have 2 days in Aix-en-Provence, this is the perfect way to soak in some of the surrounding wilderness without going on a full-day trip.
Day 3 – Day Trip from Aix
Aix-en-Provence is perfectly situated between some of the region’s most beautiful cities, natural parks and hilltop villages. After exploring the city and the immediate surroundings, the best way to explore further afield is by taking a day trip.
Whether you have your own car to road trip through the hills or rely on buses and private tours, there is something for everyone.
If city hopping is your favourite way to travel, Avignon makes the perfect day trip out of Aix-en-Provence.
This beautiful town known as the gateway of Provence, Avignon was once home to the Popes and only officially became part of France in 1791. Surrounded by mediaeval ramparts, this city has a fascinating history and a thriving arts, retail and food scene.
One of the most famous landmarks in the city is the bridge to nowhere (Pont d’Avignon), originally built in the 11th century as a wooden bridge, the power of the Rhone soon washed it away. Rebuilt using stone, the bridge lasted only a short time against the river’s flow, so was abandoned in the 17th century.
Now a very catchy French song refers to the dancing on the bridge – ‘Sur le Pont d’Avignon’. You can walk along (or dance along) the remains of the bridge for €5.
Explore inside the towering mediaeval ramparts. Avignon’s old town is hidden behind encompassing walls. Originally built to protect the city, you can now discover some of Avignon’s highlights tucked away beyond the gates.
With boutique stores, cafes, restaurants and museums, it’s easy to spend an entire afternoon wandering through the narrow pedestrianised streets.
Take a trip out on the Rhône to enjoy Avignon from an alternative perspective. You will find many river cruise ships stationed at Avignon, ready to whisk you away along the river to Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. Some of these cruises even offer a meal and wine along the way.
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and visit the Calanques National Park. Snaking for 20 km along the rocky coastline, this rugged national park is worth visiting whether you want to go for a hike or enjoy a picnic with a view.
The best way to explore this area of incredible natural beauty is on foot. There are hundreds of interconnecting trails to choose from, but if you are visiting as part of a day trip, the best ones start just outside of Cassis, a charming fishing port on the east side of the national park.
The most popular trail is the Calanques de Cassis, a day hike along the coast to Port Pin and along to the Calanque d’En Vau. The climb may be steep, but the turquoise waters, white sands and dramatic cliffs make it worth the extra effort. Calanque d’En Vau is famously named one of France’s best beaches, and it’s easy to see why.
The Alpilles are a range of small, craggy mountains located to the northeast of Aix-En-Provence. Whilst you may not find this area in the typical Provencal guidebooks, the hidden hilltop villages and beautiful natural surroundings make this area worth visiting.
There are 10 primary villages to explore in this region, offering vineyard tours, and wine and olive oil tasting experiences, each with their own unique charm.
The best way to see the villages at your own pace is by taking a road trip or guided tour through the olive groves, Roman ruins, and up winding mountain roads.
The Verdon Gorge is the deepest in France. High-sided cliffs drop down into vibrant turquoise water. There are no roads leading up through the gorge so the best way to see this dramatic landscape is by hiring a vessel from one of the beaches along the lake.
You can choose from kayaks, paddleboards and pedalos but bear in mind if the water is low, you will make it further up with a kayak or a paddleboard.
Pack a picnic, and remember your swimwear; in the summer, taking a dip in the crystal clear waters is incredibly refreshing. You can also take an organised tour here.
No trip to Provence would be complete without visiting the famous lavender fields. Sadly, there is only a small window to see this explosion of colour on the rolling hills of Provence. The fragrant dusky purple blooms spring up across the region from mid-June to July.
The best way to see the lavender fields of Provence is by taking a road trip along the ‘Lavender Route’. This is a loop through the top spots, including Valensole, Luberon Valley and Sault.
Where to Stay in Aix-en-Provence
Hôtel Le Mozart – This 3-star hotel is a great option for mid-range visitors to Aix. They have a number of basic yet comfortable rooms on offer along with a hearty buffet breakfast available for guests each morning. Click here to check availability
Hôtel Cézanne – This 4-star boutique hotel is a great choice for those looking for a bit of luxury while in Aix-en-Provence. Not only is there a range of delightful rooms to choose from, there is a lovely terrace and bar for guests to enjoy along with plenty of other amenities. Click here to check availability
Aparthotel Adagio – If you’d like your own flat while staying in Aix, then this aparthotel is a great option. There are a number of fully-furnished apartments to choose from in a central location that have everything you may need to enjoy your trip. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Aix-en-Provence hotels!
Whether you have 1, 2 or 3 days in Aix-en-Provence, you can enjoy the highlights of this beautiful Provencal city and the incredible natural beauty in the surrounding area. It may seem difficult to discover this varied city in a short amount of time, but with this Aix-en-Provence itinerary, you can be sure you have made the most out of your visit.
Are you planning to visit Aix-en-Provence? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!