Rolling vineyards, pastel-painted villages and sweeping landscapes straight out of a Van Gogh painting; this is southern France at its most breathtaking and you’ll likely want to spend a lot longer than 3 days soaking up the laid back atmosphere in sunny Provence. With just a few days to explore, here are some ideas for how to spend 3 days in Aix-en-Provence.
Day 1: Art and History in Aix-en-Provence
Get your bearings in Aix-en-Provence with a stroll through the Vieil Aix (Old Town), where you can admire the eclectic Cathedrale Saint Sauveur, wander the former City of the Counts and haggle with the locals at the many weekly markets. Stop off for lunch at one of the alfresco cafés along the historic Cours Mirabeau, one of the prettiest streets in all of France.
An afternoon jaunt up Montagne Sainte Victoire offers some of the region’s best views or else art lovers can follow the Route de Cézanne tourist trail, including a visit to the nearby Atelier Cézanne – the artist’s former studio.
Day 2: Explore the Sights of Provence
Take a day trip around the key sights of the Provence region, starting with a visit to the UNESCO-World Heritage listed city of Arles, home to an impressively preserved Roman amphitheater and the architectural masterpiece of Cathédrale St-Trophime. A cycle or horse ride around the distinctive marshlands and salt plains of Camargue is next up, before journeying north to visit the dramatic Papal Palace of Avignon. Stop off to admire the famous Triumphant Arch of Glanum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence on the way, then take a scenic drive through the Lubéron Natural Park as you head back to your hotel.
Day 3: Head to the coast
On the cusp of the glitzy French Riviera, the coastal region of Provence benefits from a similarly glorious Mediterranean climate and exploring the beaches and historic ports south of Aix-de-Provence is a must for summer visitors. Head to the lively port town of Marseille, France’s oldest and second-largest city (after Paris), where the vibrant markets, galleries and museums have been injected with a new burst of life thanks to the city’s status as the 2013 European Capital of Culture. End your day with a boat cruise to the nearby beach resort of Cassis where you’ll get to explore the scenic Calanques, a series of white limestone inlets dotted along the south coast.