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The heart of Provence is Aix. This classy belle of a city is known for burbling fountains (they’re everywhere, to the delight of toddlers and pigeons) and its homegrown artist, the one and only Paul Cézanne.
In addition to sheer good looks and charm, we chose it for where to stay in Provence because it’s easy on families – you can tell by the number of locals with small folk who live here (instead of nearby Marseille) are out and about at the parks and cafes.
With a daily open air marché in the tangled old town, the cafe culture lining pretty Cours Mirabeau, and the Cézanne art heritage trail, there’s plenty to see and do.
Once you’ve explored thoroughly, Aix is perfectly positioned minimum 30 minutes and max two hours by car from the other essential Provence sites, both on the French Riviera and in the Luberon.
In terms of accommodation, Aix is well-stocked with Airbnb and other short term villa rental options just outside the old town. These are more spacious than the hotels within, allow you to cook with the regional bounty, and often equipped with swimming pools.
Image: Lee Ann Cafferata