Aix en Provence / Ais de Provença --   

slow to load at timesCertain traditions make St. Maximinus the first Bishop of Aquae Sextiae (Aix), one of the original seventy-two Disciples. The Abbé Louis Duchesne seems to have proved that this saint, the object of a very ancient local cult, was not considered the first bishop of Aix, except in recent legends, devised towards the middle of the eleventh century. The first historically known bishop of was a man named Lazarus, who occupied this position, beginning in the fifth century, under the Archbishopric of Arles. Only at the end of the eighth century did Aix become an archbishopric on its own. The church of Aix honors the martyr Mitre (466AD, whose relics are preserved in the Cathedral of Aix). Cathédrale Saint Sauveur retains the original beauty of its rich edifice from the twelfth century. Built on the site of a Roman temple (and a baptismal pool dating from the fourth century that still remains), it has a gothic design. Today's Archbishopric (of Aix en Provence) is now shared with Arles.

The city, established in 123 BC by the Roman consul Sextius Calvinus, who gave his name to its springs, was near the scene of the Battle of Aquae Sextiae, when Romans under Gaius Marius defeated the Cimbri and Teutones. During the 4th century AD, it became the metropolis of Narbonensis Secunda. The town was occupied by the Visigoths in 477 and repeatedly plundered by the Franks and Lombards. It was occupied by the Saracens in 731 and by Charles Martel in 737. Aix, under the houses of Aragon and Anjou, became an artistic center and seat of learning (Louis II of Anjou granted a royal charter for a university in 1409). To the east of Aix rises Mont Sainte-Victoire. dramatically overshadows the small dam built by Emile Zola's father and was a favourite subject and haunt of Paul Cézanne throughout his lifetime (the village of le Tholonet). Roman remains, medieval walls, great city-homes, fountains and churches, Aix is a place to visit. It is only a 3-hour TGV ride from Paris, a stopping point to nearby Marseilles and Nice. Many more Pictures:

If you want to visit all the villages and sites important to Cézanne, you should follow the Route de Cézanne, which takes you to Le Tholonet, Mont Ste. Victoire, Beaurecueil, St. Antonin, Gardanne and Meyreuil. If you are pressed for time you should at least drive (10 minutes from Aix) to Le Tholonet, a village at the foot of Mont Ste. Victoire, a favorite visual theme for Cézanne. Mont Sainte Victoire is visible throughout the Pays d'Aix, a rolling terrain of farmland and vineyards. Cézanne painted it more than 80 times and once said: to paint from nature is not to paint the subject, but to realize sensations.

The Pays d'Aix can be a great area to vacation; but you have to choose carefully. If you want to experience the Provençal charm, don't rely only on the official Websites. Certain travel guides may have a tendency to copy selections from each one another, too. Don't forget modern history. For instance, soon after the invasion of Normandy (June 6, 1944), the Allies also landed, on August 15, 1944, in the south of France at five places in Provence along the Mediterranean coast, between Naval center Toulon and Cannes. It was a Tuesday and it was not Belgium:

Link to other pages about cities in Southern France: Montpellier, Nîmes, Arles, Orange et. al. -- Avignon -- Narbonne -- Toulouse -- Carcassonne -- Béziers -- A look at Lanuguedoc's Fab Four -- Marseilles -- Nice -- Digne-les-Bains & Embrun -- Voiron

Metz -- Belfort -- Troyes -- Colmar -- Mulhouse -- Current Newsletter -- le Saint-Suaire -- Lörrach -- Strasbourg -- Grenoble -- Lyon -- Nantes -- A page about Paris -- Mainz / Mayence -- Trier / Trèves -- Aachen / Aix-la-Chapelle -- Reims

Celtic/Frank History -- Germaniæ Historicæ -- Anglo Saxons
Reformation from a French-Protestant point of view

New: 05/18/08