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What you need to know about Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence is a city-commune in the south of France, about 30 km (19 mi) north of Marseille. A former capital of Provence, it is in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, in the department of Bouches-du-Rhône, of which it is a subprefecture. The population of Aix numbers approximately 143,000. Its inhabitants are called Aixois or, less commonly, Aquisextains.

Area Size:  186,1 km²

Population: Estimate 138 488

Currency

 Climate

Aix-en-Provence is situated in the south of France, in a plain overlooking the Arc, about a mile from the right bank of the river. The city slopes gently from north to south and the Montagne Sainte-Victoire can easily be seen to the east. Aix’s position in the south of France gives it a warm climate, though more extreme than Marseille due to the inland location. It has an average January temperature of 5 °C (41 °F) and a July average of 23 °C (73 °F). It has an average of 300 days of sunshine and only 91 days of rain. While it is partially protected from the Mistral, Aix still occasionally experiences the cooler and gusty conditions it brings.

 

Dance 

The dance company Ballet Preljocaj of the French dancer and choreographer Angelin Preljocaj has been located in Aix since 1996. In 2007 it took up residence in the Pavillon Noir, a centre for dance performance, designed in 1999 by the architect Rudy Ricciotti. The centre is one of nineteen of its kind in France, designated Centre chorégraphique national.

 

European Capital of Culture

Aix-en-Provence was part of Marseille-Provence 2013, the year-long cultural festival when the region served as the European Capital of Culture. Aix hosted several major cultural events including one half of the Grand Atelier du Midi gala exhibition and an episode of the Révélations pyrotechnical performance. The city also unveiled major new cultural infrastructure to coincide with Marseille-Provence 2013, including the Darius Milhaud Conservatory designed by Kengo Kuma.

 

Economy

Calissons, a specialty of Aix. Industries formerly included flour-milling, the manufacture of confectionery, iron-ware, hats, matches and the extraction of olive oil.

 

Miscellaneous

The local Aix dialect, rarely used and spoken by a rapidly decreasing number of people, is part of the provencal dialect of the Occitan language. The provencal for “Aix-en-Provence” is “Ais de Prouvènço” [ˈaj de pʀuˈvɛ̃sɔ]. Most of the older streets in Aix have names in both Provençal and French.

 

Transport

Aix-en-Provence TGV railway station. A set of ancient roads radiate out from Aix to the surrounding countryside, the Pays d’Aix. There are also a large number of modern autoroutes connecting Aix to nearby towns. There are autoroutes northwards to Avignon and to the Luberon; southwards to Marseille; and eastwards to Aubagne and the Mediterranean coast of Provence; and to Nice and other towns on the French Riviera. Aix and Marseille are equidistant from the Marseille Provence Airport (MRS) at Marignane on the Etang de Berre which features domestic and international scheduled passenger service. There is another airport at Les Milles, which is mostly used by general aviation. There is a frequent bus shuttle service from the main bus station in Aix which also serves the nearby TGV station at l’Arbois, in the middle of the countryside about 10 miles (16 km) from Aix. At Aix, the line from Paris branches to Marseille and Nice; it takes about 3 hours to get from Paris to Aix by TGV. Aix also has a railway station near the centre, Gare d’Aix-en-Provence, with connections to Marseille, Pertuis and Briançon in the French Alps. A frequent and rapid shuttle bus service for commuters operates between the bus station in Aix and Marseille. There are many other long distance and local buses from the bus station. The city also offers a “city pass” available in 24, 48, and 72 hour packages for visiting tourists. The “pass tourisitque” is offered at the Aix-en-Provence Tourist Office, the Atelier de Cézanne, and the official Aix tourism website. In the town itself, there is an inexpensive municipal bus service, including a dial-a-bus service (“proxibus”), a park-and-ride service and tiny electrified buses for those with mobility problems. Those are six seater vehicles that circulate at a speed of 10 mph (16.09 km/h). The central old town of Aix is for the most part pedestrianised. There are large underground and overground parking structures placed at regular intervals on the “boulevard exterieur”, the predominantly one-way ring road that encircles the old town. Access to the old town is by a series of often narrow one-way streets that can be confusing to navigate for the uninitiated. As in many other French cities, a short-term bicycle hire scheme nicknamed V’Hello, free for trips of less than half an hour, has recently been put in place by the town council: and has been popular with tourists. As well as overland routes, two “rivers” flow through Aix, the Arc and the Torse, but neither of which can remotely be described as navigable.