East of Aix towers Cézanne’s favourite haunt, the magnificent silvery ridge of Montagne Ste-Victoire, its dry slopes carpeted in garrigue (scented scrub), lush pine forests, burnt-orange soil and Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence vineyards. Many hike the mountain's north side, but the south side, though steeper, is quite beautiful.

If you take the D17 along the south side, pick up info on hiking and biking at the Maison de Ste-Victoire in St-Antonin-sur-Bayon. The mountain is closed July and August due to the threat of forest fire (though roads remain open). Driving the loop around Ste-Victoire is gorgeous, or catch bus 110 (www.lepilote.com) from La Rotonde in Aix to Payloubier/St-Antonin-sur-Bayon.