At the center of picturesque Aix-en-Provence is Cours Mirabeau, a plane tree–shaded avenue lined with chic stores, patisseries, and restaurants. Marked along its length by fountains, this street is the most popular place in town for a pre- or postlunch stroll and a must-visit stop on guided tours of the town.
Constructed in the 1600s, Cours Mirabeau separates the largely pedestrian ville comtale (old town) from Quartier Mazarin (new town), where the town’s wealthy residents built their stylish mansions. Nowadays, the street buzzes with locals and tourists year-round. In winter, twinkling Christmas lights create a festive atmosphere, while in summer, groups of friends sip chilled rosé in its sidewalk cafés.
Four fountains line Cours Mirabeau. At the southern end, impressive Fontaine de la Rotonde was built in 1860 and celebrates the town’s three main professions: law, art, and architecture. Halfway up the street are Fontaine des Neuf Canons and moss-covered thermal Fontaine Eau Chaude, and at the top of the street, the 1823 Fontaine Roi René depicts the 15th-century Provençal ruler Good King René.
Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- The Cours Mirabeau is wheelchair-accessible.
- Stop for coffee or a bite to eat at Brasserie Les Deux Garçons, where luminaries including Winston Churchill, Edith Piaf, and Cézanne have dined.
- Aix-en-Provence has a town-wide market on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
Located in the center of Aix-en-Provence, Cours Mirabeau is only open to local traffic—visitors must park on the town outskirts and walk in. The closest parking lot is nearby at La Rotonde. Local buses make regular circuits around town, and the main train station and intercity bus station are located a 20-minute walk outside the town center, with connections to Marseille and other nearby towns. When to Get There
Cours Mirabeau is a public place open all year round. On market days, Aix-en-Provence is especially lively, and the sidewalk cafés along Cours Mirabeau offer great people watching. Weekends bring out local shoppers; visit during that time to experience the avenue at its most dynamic, or come during the week for a lower-key experience.
Head to Cézanne’s Studio
For a glimpse into the life of one of Aix-en-Provence’s most famous residents, head to Atélier Cézanne, just north of town, where the postimpressionist artist created some of his best-known works. The interior has been restored to exactly the way it looked when the painter was in residence, providing fascinating insight into his creative process.