Route: 32 km | Duration: 2 days | Recommended period: May/June
Aix-en-Provence is the town chosen by the great painter to spend the last years of his life. Surrounded by nature and far from the misleading noises of the Parisian metropolis, here Cézanne painted the most moving canvases of his production. Along the streets of the city there is a path marked by golden nails that allows you to explore the city in a new light.
Let’s take a detailed look at the painter’s Aix-en-Provence with an itinerary that touches on the inner part of the city in one day and the surrounding area in the next.
We begin with the house where the painter was born at 28 Rue de l’Opéra. We continue to the Church of La Maddalena, Place des Prêcheurs, where his children were baptised and his marriage to Elisabeth Aubert was celebrated.
The Café Beaufort, at the corner of the Cours Saint Louis and the Cours des Arts et Métiers was the meeting place of Aix’s protesting artists: Ravaisou, Emperaire, Solari, Gasquet sometimes accompanied by Cézanne.
Museum Granet at the time was a drawing school (Place Saint-Jean de Malte). Enrolled from 1857 to 1862, Cézanne took courses in life drawing and drawing by the old method, reproducing the plaster and marble models kept at the museum. On 25 August 1859, he received the second prize for painting from the Free Drawing School of the town of Aix.
For those interested in an even more detailed itinerary, maps showing the places of residence of the famous painter’s family are available at the Tourist Office.
The tour begins at the Atelier de Cézanne, a magical place where you can feel the presence of the great artist, a small country estate surrounded by 7000 square metres of farmland, planted with olive and fig trees, bordered by the Verdon canal, on the Lauves hill. Here, everything has remained intact, the large canvases, the jars, the bottles in an unreal silence surrounded by greenery. Truly moving.
We continue on to La Bastide du Jas de Bouffan (Route De Galice), the old family home where the young man began to paint, where you can breathe in an ancient air that certainly influenced the painter’s growth.
Lovers of the great painter’s canvases can take the Chemin du Bibémus, which leads to the famous red quarries immortalised in 11 oils on canvas and 16 watercolours. The proposed visitor welcome is minimal and considers the site a large ‘archaeological dig’, a pile of blocks and a plant habitat that must not be disturbed.
The route makes it possible to
Don’t miss the view of the Sainte-Victorie mountain that was so immortalised by Cézanne! On the D17 and D10 roads, there are several viewpoints from which you can enjoy a spectacular view of the mountain.
- If you have time, there is the possibility of a 60 km long circuit around the mountain, which you take before Beaurecueil and passes through the perched village of Puyloubier.
- For hikers, there are three trails:
red trail from the ferme de l’Hubac, 2-hour walk to the croix de Provence
black trail from Saint-Antonin-sur-Bayon, a difficult and dangerous route, only suitable for experts
blue trail 4-hour walk from Puyloubier to the top of the mountain, Pic des Mouches.
Continue to Le Tholonet, the place where Cézanne rented a room at Château Noir to store his material and the works he was painting in the undergrowth surrounding the property. Here, in fact, he painted 19 oils and 20 watercolours on Château Noir: the unfinished house hidden by the trees, the cistern, the wells, the millstone, the undergrowths and their pines, the rocks and caves on the cliff sides, and of course the looming Sainte-Victoire mountain populate his canvases.
- For true Cézanne aficionados, take a diversion to the banks of the river Arc, so immortalised by the artist.
- The Valcros hill was also an area of inspiration for Cézanne, with panoramic views over the Arc valley.
The itinerary ends in Gardanne, a small village of 2645 inhabitants where the painter lived for a time. This pyramid-shaped village stimulated his curiosity and its complex conformation became the prototype for the structural conception of painting that Cézanne was developing.