Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Section
Aix-en-Provence - Cezanne's Hometown - Calissons
Aix-en-Provence, a true Provencal city
Aix-en-Provence is today an important business center with a fabulous cultural heritage.
The Roman Consul Gaius Sextus Calvinus established a military camp by the thermal spring situated at the foot of the Celtic stronghold of Entremont.
Aquae Sextiae or Baths of Sextius became Aix-en-Provence, a thriving spa.
It expanded further in the early 15th century under the patronage of King René, the Duke of Anjou, Count of Provence and King of Sicily.
In 1409, the charismatic Bon Roi René, as his subjects called him, indeed transformed the newly elected capital of Provence into a prestigious university and cultural centre.
The University of Aix-en-Provence is to this day considered as one of the best in France, especially in the teaching of law.
Aix-en-Provence, a prime tourist destination
Aix-en-Provence is also ranked the second most pleasant town of France.
Each year it attracts thousands of visitors, who come from all around the world to discover its extensive cultural and architectural heritage.
Cours Mirabeau and its many cafe-terraces and superb buildings is a Must See.
This is where you'll find two famous pâtisseries (pastry shops) Riederer and Béchard.
Both master-confectioners were awarded the title of "Meilleur Ouvrier de France", a prestigious award granted to the best craftsmen in each trade.
They produce the best calissons and castels, both specialties of Aix.
Cours Mirabeau is also where you'll discover the most iconic of Aix-en-Provence’ s forty fountains!
The Fontaine de la Rotonde is adorned with twelve lions and three statues that symbolize Justice, Agriculture and Fine Arts.
The hometown of Paul Cézanne
But before all, Aix-en-Provence is the city where Paul Cézanne, the 'father of modern painting' was born in 1839.
Cezanne studied drawing at the Free Municipal School of Drawing in Aix in 1857.
However, he changed studies, upon his father's request, and studied Law, still in Aix, from 1858 to 1861 then moved to Paris to dedicate his time to art.
He spent most of life between Paris and the family estate or his studio in Provence, where he created some of his masterpieces.
His studio, which is open to the public, exhibits his paintings and the subjects of his still life creations and will allow you to set foot in his world.
Calissons - Aix-en-Provence specialty
Aix en Provence is not only the City of Cezanne!
It's also a picturesque Provencal town with lovely markets where you'll find mountains of spices and Provencal herbs, olives, cherries, melons, nougats and many regional specialties!
You'll also be able to buy more Calissons.
This French oval shape confectionery is made from marzipan flavoured with melon and a touch of orange and topped with a thin wafer.
These ingredients give them their unique flavour.
Who invented the recipe for the calissons?
Some say that the royal confectioner created the Calissons d'Aix in 1473 for the marriage of King René to Jeanne de Laval.
Apparently, the sweet taste of the dough would have brought a smile to the future queen and one of the guests would have declared:
"di calins soun - ce sont des câlins - these are hugs”.
‘Di calins soun’ obviously evolved into calisson.
Others believe that the Archbishop of Aix-en-Provence blessed the wafer, when the members of the congregation were singing "ad venite Calicem".
Department of Bouches-du-Rhône
Coordinates: Lat 43.529742 - Long 5.447427