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Paul Cézanne  
Looking for Cézanne...
…or just curious to see what all the fuss is about ? Or how to avoid him in Aix-en-Provence ? Maybe, just maybe, he’s staying at the hotel near the station, in the municipal hospital, at the cinema, among the "prints and posters" on the rue Gaston de Saporta, wandering up the chemin des Lauves, or along the route du Tholonet ? It says here, to look in the cemetery. How can an obscure provincial artist raise so much interest a hundred years after his death? He is all over Aix-en-Provence... and nowhere. His name and fame transcend history. None among the local heroes, from René d’Anjou to Mirabeau, Campra to Milhaud, Granet to Zola, commands the world markets, the tourist traffic, the press coverage and the media as he does ; none of the above sought the obscurity of personal and artistic integrity as he. And few have been so consistently misunderstood and underestimated.
In droves, tourists, numbed by "guidespeak", throng the narrow streets of Aix-en-Provence. With the wisdom of hindsight the city has reclaimed its long neglected rebel, trumpeting its claim to be the "Ville d’eau, Ville d’art" announced by the roadside signs at the entry into town. The Office du Tourisme, sensibly perhaps, proclaims itself to be the point of departure of local tours in and outside town, and has produced an annotated tri-lingual guide to the Cézanne’s itineraries : "Dans les Pas de Cézanne".
Brass studs sporting a large "C" have been hammered into the pavement at frequent intervals to ensure that the visitor find his way to, and past, a number of the addresses, schools, churches, and institutions which Cézanne is known to have frequented. The only visible trace of his passage is, in most cases, a plaque affixed to the stonework outside a doorway. The address generally "ne se visite pas", and the Cézanne sleuth, head bowed and guide in hand, passes on to the next halt along his yellow stud road.
Plaques and studded pavements, however, do not a man reconstitute, much less an artist : the collège Bourbon (collège Mignet) where he attended school, 28 rue de l’Opéra, his birthplace, 55 Cours Mirabeau, his father’s hatshop, the 18th century fountain bearing his bronze effigy in the rue des Chapeliers, the église de la Madeleine where he was baptised, number 23 rue Boulegon, where he died, the Mairie, where he was married in civil ceremony, the former Law Faculty opposite the cathedral, where he spent a year deciding that he was preparing himself for the wrong profession, the cathédrale Saint-Sauveur, which he frequented increasingly in his later years, and the église Saint-Jean-Baptiste, where he married Hortense Fiquet after the civil ceremony of the Mairie.
His remains are buried in the Saint-Pierre cemetery, near his beloved route du Tholonet.
This "long march" would be tedious, were it not for the constant appeal of Aix-en-Provence, its houses, streets, trees, squares and fountains, the façade of the church of Saint-John of Malta viewed along the rue Cardinale, the Cézanne’s and other treasures in the Musée Granet, the "Art School" which he attended, the Place des Prêcheurs with its markets, the rue Mignet, Hôtel de Ville, cathédrale Saint-Sauveur, the Place de l’Université, are the silent witnesses of his passage.


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