Located between Cours Mirabeau and Place d’Albertas, it is one of the most beautiful squares in the city. With its cobbled streets, quaint cafés and stunning architecture, it has become an integral part of Aix-en-Provence’s history and culture.
The square was originally built around 1750 by architect Pierre Puget de la Serre on behalf of Marquis Joseph de Bellegarde. It was designed to be a grandiose entranceway into the city from Cours Mirabeau, and features two rows of elegant buildings with porticos facing each other across the street. These buildings were once occupied by some of Aix’s wealthiest families, including those belonging to banker Jacques Raspail and painter Paul Cézanne. Today they are home to small boutiques, galleries, and restaurants that give Place Bellegarde its unique atmosphere.
At the centre of Place Bellegarde stands a fountain which dates back to 1815 when it was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte as part of his plans for urban renewal in Provence region at large. The fountain consists of four marble basins supported by four bronze statues representing different rivers from around Provence: L’Arc (the Arc River), La Durance (the Durance River), Le Rhône (the Rhone River) and La Sorgue (the Sorgue River). This magnificent structure serves as a reminder not only of Napoleonic rule, but also pays homage to Provence’s rich natural heritage.