France: Aix–en-Provence – the city of fountains
May 10, 2019
by Evgeny Kulkov
If you want to see the blessed South of France and for this purpose flew to Marseille, do not rush to the beach. I have a pleasant surprise for you! Just half an hour by bus (8,6 euros) from the airport and you will find yourself in the most charming city of Provence, which was once its capital. Is — Aix–en-Provence, the city of water.
Why is Aix–en-Provence called the city of water? After all, there are no large rivers nearby, and the sea is 27 km away, in Marseille?
This city in 123 BC was founded by the Roman Consul guy Sextius Calvin. And called it «Aqua Sextasy», that is, «water of Sextius». The fact that the Romans found here healing springs with mineral water. They immediately built the baths according to their custom. By the way, these terms in the modern version exist to this day in the same place – almost in the city center.
And now the word “aix” in the name Aix-en-Provence is derived from the Latin « aqua», that is water. But Aix–en-Provence is named after the city of water not only because of the famous Spa. On its streets, there are about a hundred fountains – large and small, simple and richly decorated.
The bus will take you directly to the city center. Just five minutes walk from the bus station and you are on the main street – Mirabeau Boulevard. Here is the largest and most famous fountain – rotunda. The bottom of the fountain adorned with lions, and the top three statues, representing the main activities of the city. The one that looks at the Mirabeau Boulevard symbolizes justice, in the direction of Marseille – trade, and agriculture, in the direction of Avignon – art and culture.
The Mirabeau Boulevard, lined with centuries-old plane trees and is very beautiful. During a pleasant walk through it, you will find a few more unusual fountains. It is covered with juicy fluffy moss “fountain of warm water” and “fountain of nine guns”.
The boulevard ends with a monument to King Rene the Good, who also plays the role of a fountain! Stay at the monument. Rene the Good was a real king-troubadour. Rene arranged magnificent national holidays. Knights and troubadours came to the court of the king from all over Provence to compete in eloquence. There weren’t many rulers on Earth like him!
The Mirabeau Boulevard divides the city into two parts. To the South of it is the Mazarin quarter. It was built for the rich citizens by the brother of the famous cardinal – ruler of France. It is here that you will find the sweetest ancient fountain of the city – Three Dolphins.
The Old Town
To the North of the boulevard is the Old Town with its magnificent town hall square. The square is dominated by a gothic clock tower. Pay attention to the figures that are under the clock and indicate the seasons, changing each other depending on the season.
Wander here and you will find many more fountains for every taste: a lion and a Wild Boar, a guiding star and an Egyptian obelisk. And when you are tired – sit in the famous restaurant Deux Garçons (Two Waiters). It was visited by many famous writers and artists. who glorified in their works Aix–en-Provence, the city of water.