French Riviera: Toulon and Aix-en-Provence

Tree reflecting off a tall window with a black railing beneath and sycamore leaves above.

Dark and heavy clouds were above us as we arrived at the port of Toulon in the South of France. While the sun was rising, the light was reflecting off of the clouds. It remained overcast, raining for most of the day, so again, we spent the day walking and sightseeing in the rain.
Toulon is located on the French Riviera and has a large port as well as a naval base on the Mediterranean coast. The harbour is not only home to finishing boats and ferries but also submarines and warships.

Early morning dark clouds in the Port of Toulon.
Port of Toulon

Sun rising behind the mountainside in Toulon harbour with dark clouds overhead.

Dark clouds in Toulon harbour on an early autumn morning.

Sunlight reflecting off of clouds in the port of Toulon, Southern France.

Dark clouds at sunrise in Toulon harbour.

Ship in Toulon harbour with clouds coming down the mountains.

Moutnainside city Toulon on a cloudy morning.

Street view of Aix-en-Provence in the South of France,

We didn't have time to see much of Toulon, as for the day trip, we hopped on a bus to Aix-en-Provence. It was a stunning one hour, mountainous drive. We spent a couple of hours wandering around this Provençal town armed with umbrellas.
Aix was home to Paul Cézanne, who was born there in 1839 and was buried in 1906. Les Deux Garçons is a bar named after Cézanne and his childhood friend Emile Zola, as they used to spend time there after school. Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Jean Cocteau and Pablo Picasso are some other writers and artists who also frequented there. Cézanne's big inspiration and painting obsession was the big mountain outside Aix, called Sainte Victoire. He painted this mountain in 44 oil paintings and 43 watercolours. 

Fontaine de la Rotonde at the bottom of Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence.
Fontaine de la Rotonde

Fontaine de la Rotonde in black and white with sycamore tree branches hanging in front.

Windows, balconies and plane tree branches on Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence.

Black and white sycamore tree branches in front of a tall window in Aix-en-Provence.

We began the walking tour from a historic fountain located at Place de la Rotonde at the bottom of Cours Mirabeau. This fountain is a centrepiece of a roundabout, dating back to 1860 and consisting of two basins. Cours Mirabeau is a boulevard, 440 metres long and 42 metres wide and lined with plane trees. I initially thought they were maple trees. Their leaves are a little similar at first glance, but the barks are different. The plane tree bark is flaky and peels off in patches. The plane trees are related to sycamore trees, and they both belong to the Platanus genus of the Platanaceae family of plants. Maple trees belong to the Acer genus belonging to the family Sapindaceae

Arts et Sciences Statues on Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence, Southern France.
"Arts et Sciences" Statues

Black and white "Arts et Sciences" Statues in Aix-en-Provence.

An entryway in a green doorway looking into a courtyard in Aix-en-Provence, Southern France.

Black and white image of Passage Agard in Aix-en-Provence, France.

Tall window in Aix-en-Provence framed by a black railing and plane tree branches and leaves.

Walking on Cours Mirabeau, you will come across many fountains and statues. Aix-en-Provence is known as a city of a thousand fountains. The Romans called Aix, Aquae Sextiae, which means The Waters of Sextius. They discovered a natural thermal water source and installed Roman baths. Historically the fountains had many uses, watering animals and washing clothes being some of those.
The Town Hall, Hôtel de Ville, is in a picturesque square, Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, next to a clock tower erected in 1510. Then in 1661, an astronomical clock was added to the clock tower. This is the second astronomical clock we have seen in France on this holiday, the first one being in Rouen.
There was hardly enough time to order some food in a local restaurant before we had to run back to the bus. Our plates were left half-full while we dashed off to our next destination on the French Riviera: Marseille. 

Black and white image of the fountain on Place d'Albertas in Aix-en-Provence.
Place d'Albertas

A plane tree outside a sandstone building on Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence.

The belfry at Place de l'Hotel de Ville next to the Town Hall in Aix-en-Provence.
Belfry and Town Hall at Place de l'Hotel de Ville

Tall timber doorway on Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence, Southern France.

Decorative iron balconies and tall windows in Aix-en-Provence.

Looking up at tall windows and balconies from under a sycamore tree in Aix-en-Provence.

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