While strolling leisurely around Aix-en-Provence, you will come across singing fountains all over the historical center. There are about 40 public fountains in this attractive city whose name comes from the Latin word Aquae meaning water.
Fountains along the Cours Mirabeau
Useful at the beginning, just ponds, wells or watering places for flocks of sheep, the fountains won their spurs in the 17th century becoming ornament of the urban landscape. Their carrying out was entrusted to specialists, fountain masters, expert in hydraulics and artists. Nowadays, around 40 public fountains are part of Aix-en-Provence’s lifestyle.
The greatest fountain of Aix-en-Provence is probably the Rotonde. It was built in 1860 and its proportions are exceptional for the city. This was the first fountain to have a pond made of cast iron. 3 statues representing Law, Agriculture and Fine Arts, landmark at the entrance of the historical center, remind us of the main activities of the city in the past. Today, this great fountain is in the heart of the city which has been extending over the decades.
Going up the Cours Mirabeau under the shade of plane trees, you will come across 3 little fountains. Built in 1691 by Laurent Vallon, the Nine Canons fountain was originally a watering fountain where flocks of sheep drank during the seasonal migrations before the creation of the Cours Mirabeau. The growing vegetation makes it difficult to recognize the sculptures. A little bit higher, you will see the Hot Water fountain, whose nickname, the Mossy Fountain, is due to the thick moss which is getting over it. Warm water coming from the Bagniers spring flows from this fountain. At the top of the Cours Mirabeau, you will find the Roi René fountain drawned in 1819 by Pierre-Henri Revoil. The statue designed by David d’Angers features the famous King René, last Earl of Provence, who is often referred to as “the Good King René”.
Fountains in the Mazarin district
One of the most artistic fountains in Aix-en-Provence is located in the Mazarin district and is known as the Four Dolphin Fountain. It was built in 1667 and sculpted by Jean-Claude Rambot. It flows in a circular basin made of stone coming from the mountain range of Sainte-Baume near Aubagne. With its 4 dolphins and their fins sculpted on a bed of waves which support the obelisk, it belongs to the baroque style which was greatly loved by Aix nobility. It has been restored and cleaned lately so you can now uncover it refurbished.
Famous fountains on the other side of the Cours Mirabeau
North of the Cours Mirabeau, in the former medieval district 2 fountains are really worthwhile. One of them is located in front of the city hall. Decorated by Chastel who sculpted the faces spitting out water from the spring of Pinchinats, the fountain supports a roman column. Today, this water is very useful for the flower market taking place on this square every week. The other one is located on the d’Albertas square. The d’Albertas came to Aix-en-Provence in the 18th century and it was a wealthy parliamentarian family. The square is like a theatre decor and the fountain was built in the 19th century in baroque and rococo style. It has a circular pond surrounded by a wrought-iron work which gathers water flowing from a bowl supported by a pedestal with sculptures of leaves, garlands and roses.
Water is all over the city of Aix-en-Provence and offers freshness which comes to be really appreciated in Provence, a very hot region in summer. Let yourself be soothe by the fountains’ sound while strolling around the city.