Aix (pronounced like the letter X) was once a Roman spa and then the capital of the region of Provence. Today, this city about 20 mi/30 km north of Marseille is known for romantic streets, stately houses and Art with a capital A.

Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne was born there, and artists still fall in love with the place and never leave. It is also a university town, and this combination gives Aix a young, upbeat, energetic feel.

With its tree-lined cobblestoned streets, Aix is one of the most charming towns you can visit. Stroll through the Quartier Mazarin, the Cours Mirabeau and the Bourg St. Sauveur to see vestiges of Roman and medieval architecture, as well as wonderful 16th- and 17th-century fountains and facades.

One of the highlights of Aix is the "Cezanne Walk," which takes you by the painter's atelier (it has been renovated to look the way it did when he was alive), and the Hotel de Maurel de Ponteves, where he grew up. Other sights include the town hall and its 17th-century balcony, the cathedral and the several museums. The Vasarely Foundation exhibits works by Victor Vasarely and contemporary artists.

Aix-en-Provence can be seen as a day trip from Marseille or a stopover en route from Paris to the Riviera.

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