The town of Aix-en-Provence, or rather the town of a thousand fountains as it is fondly known, promises a journey of discovery through the treasures of its past. Make the most of your visit to Château Gassier to enjoy a stroll in the nearby town center of Aix-en-Provence and soak up the beauty of its iconic fountains that have quite literally shaped the history of the town.
The thermal town of Aix-en-Provence is famous for its fountains although there are actually only a hundred or so rather than a thousand! It is also a university town with a strong cultural dimension.
In the 1st century Aquae Sextiae (the town’s Latin name) began to fill with water thanks to the presence of three aqueducts: Traconnade in the north, Vauvenargues and Tholonet. Back then the fountains served mainly as a source of drinking water for the local population and troops. It was not until the 17th century that the fountains of Aix-en-Provence would adopt a decorative and architectural purpose and later be classified as Historical Monuments, such as the Town Hall fountain in 1905.
Take a stroll through the town center and admire these beautiful fountains with your own eyes. They all have their own history, secrets and anecdotes to tell and we’ve decided to give you a glimpse of them here today!
Without a doubt the most famous of all the town’s fountains! It was built in 1860 by Théophile de Tournadre, an engineer from the Ponts et Chaussées (Bridges and Roadways) construction school and is situated at the entrance to the Cours Mirabeau. Three statues sit atop the fountain to symbolize justice, agriculture and the fine arts, the town’s three main areas of activity. The monument has a total circumference of 43 meters and its jets sit 12 meters high. This fountain is powered by the waters of Verdon.
This is the town’s oldest fountain and was erected here by Georges Vallon in 1750. It was initially built in 1618 and situated within the Chapel’s cloisters before being transferred to its current position next to a Roman wall in the square in order to facilitate circulation. It is powered by the water from an underground cave, the only 15th century water source.The fountain of 9 canons
This fountain, which comprises 9 canons and is composed of two superposed basins, was built in 1651 by Laurent Vallon and is situated in the Cours Mirabeau at the intersection with rue Joseph-Cabassol. Thanks to its low curbstone, it previously served as a drinking trough for sheep under transhumance from Arles towards the Alps. Nowadays passers by stop to perch on the edge of the fountain whilst watching the hustle and bustle of the town center. It is the pride of Aix-en-Provence and has been classed as a Historical Monument since 1929.The fountain of Roi René
Situated in place of a former pyramid-shaped fountain that was destroyed during the French Revolution, the lower section of the current fountain is composed of a circular basin and four-sided white marble pedestal. The upper section features a white marble statue of King René holding a scepter in his right hand and a bunch of muscat grapes in his left hand. The fountain as a whole weighs 6.6 tons and was constructed in Paris. Just for the anecdote, it was transported from Paris to Aux-en-Provence by chariot with platform and the journey took no less than a month!
This fountain is situated in the square of the same name which provides it with a stunning architectural backdrop. The square was built over the course of six years by Jean-Baptiste d’Albertas. It is lined with small hotels which reflect the Lord’s desire to clear the entrance to his residence and give the square a feeling of unity and visual coherence. The fountain and square enjoy a prestigious setting and are overflowing with the laidback charms of southern France.
This is arguably the most unusual of all of the town’s fountains. Its warm 18° water is from the Bagnier water source. This fountain is the work of architect Fossé and was built in en 1667. The whole of the fountain is now covered by a thick layer of moss which could explain why it has become one of the main attractions of the town!
If you take a take a stroll through the town’s narrow, shady pathways then you’ll no doubt spot some lesser known yet equally as beautiful fountains as well. After visiting the town why not pass by Château Gassier for a Sunset Aperitif or an evening of Stargazing? We look forward to seeing you there!