Aix-en-Provence is the city of Paul Cézanne. It’s impossible to walk around the city without being reminded that it was home to the post-impressionist painter. Throughout town, there are small metal C plaques in the ground that form a pedestrian walking tour to see landmarks of Cézanne’s life, from schools he attended, houses he lived in, places he painted, and more. Along this path, you might even stumble upon a life-size statue of Cézanne, as if he is still walking around Aix. Just follow the golden C route markers in the ground, and you will learn about Cézanne’s life by retracing his steps and explore the centre-ville of Aix-en-Provence at the same time.
To see how Cézanne worked, you can visit his workshop, the Atelier des Lauves. He established the studio in 1902, and worked there for the last years of his life, until his death in 1906. It is from this time that Cézanne painted some of his most well-known works, including The Bathers and paintings of Mont Sainte-Victoire. Today, you can tour the atelier and see some of the items featured in his still life paintings, his tools, and the environment that inspired him to paint.
After visiting the studio, you can continue a little further down that road to the Terrain des Peintres. When painting the landscape, in particular his beloved Mont Sainte-Victoire, Cézanne would often paint from this area. You’ll be glad you walked up the little path to this area, as it gives you a beautiful panoramic view of the Mont Sainte-Victoire and its surroundings. The Terrain des Peintres is surrounded by a garden, complete with Cypress trees and olive trees that are typical of the Provence region. The site also features reproductions of several paintings Cézanne painted from this area. When exploring the Terrain des Peintres, it is easy to see how Cézanne found inspiration in Mont Sainte-Victoire. Maybe the mountain will inspire you too, just as it inspired Paul Cézanne over 100 years ago.
To explore another important place in Cézanne’s life, head on over to Jas de Bouffan, his family’s estate. The Jas de Bouffan, built in the 18th century, belonged to the Cézanne family from 1859-1899. Paul Cézanne lived and painted at Jas de Bouffan for a period of his life. He had a studio there, but he would also paint outdoors. Today, you can visit the grounds of the old estate.
The last stop on our tour is the Musée Granet, an art museum in Aix-en-Provence. The museum first opened in 1838, meaning that Paul Cézanne himself visited the museum to view its artworks. While you can find Cézanne’s paintings in museums all over the world today, there is something special about seeing his work on display in his hometown, just down the road from where it was created.
Aix-en-Provence has plenty to do and see, however, simply following in Cézanne’s footsteps is a great way to see some of the highlights the city has to offer!