Visit the studio where Cezanne painted his masterpieces, his actual coat and bowler hat still hanging on their hook, and you may feel like Cezanne has just popped out for a coffee.
The spirit of Cezanne is everywhere in Provence, but one of the most moving places to visit is the Lauves Studio (L’Atelier de Cezanne) in his beloved home town of Aix-en-Provence. He painted here every single day during the last years of his life, producing the ground-breaking work that earned him the title ‘the father of modern art’.
This is a very special place – all around are the easels, canvas satchels and umbrellas he used to paint on location, along with objects that crop up again and again in his still lifes: ginger jars, olive pots, fruit bowls, a plaster cupid. The drawers of an old wooden cabinet open to reveal mementoes, photographs, letters – even one written to Monet.
The studio, or ‘atelier’ was built on land that had views of the city to the south and Cézanne’s revered Mont Sainte-Victoire to the north. Don’t expect the same view today – his garden has matured and trees now shield the house from the outside world.
Though small living quarters were on the ground floor of the atelier, Cezanne preferred to sleep in his home on Rue Boulegon and walk up the hill to the studio each day. The working space upstairs has the huge windows you would expect from a studio along with a curious narrow opening running from floor to ceiling through which he could pass his canvases. The walls have not been touched since he painted them a pale grey to absorb the strong light – though over time they have cracked and darkened. The pictures on the wall are those he hung himself.
After Cezanne’s death the studio was fortunately bought and protected in its existing state by a series of art enthusiasts until in 1969 it was donated to the city of Aix. It is an extraordinary privilege to be able to stand in this space, surrounded by the objects Cezanne obsessed over and painted again and again. If you love art, you can’t miss this!
Visiting Cezanne’s studio
From the historic centre of Aix this is a short walk north (1 mile) up the hill of Avenue Paul Cezanne.Thankfully this is no theme park – you need to look out for the red door on the left of the road which will take you directly into the garden. Nearby car parks are Parking Pasteur, Parking Signoret and Parking Bellegarde.
You are essentially visiting one room, so allow about 30 minutes, and longer if you want to wander the garden.
The studio is open from 10-6 but out of high season it will shut for lunch, so do check the website where you can also buy tickets: booking.aixenprovencetourism.com/cezanne-sites.html
Tickets can also be bought at the Atelier de Cezanne itself.
Don’t forget to check out our hand-picked Provence vacation rentals, including some right in Aix-en-Provence.