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It’s a garden, it’s a museum, it’s a fine restaurant. It is the Hotel de Caumont, a beautiful former private mansion in the Mazarin quarter of Aix en Provence. The Caumont has a long convoluted history as you would expect of a structure built in 1728. It was sold in 1758, and changed owners another four times between 1781 and 1858. In 1964, the Isenbart family sold the property to the government of Aix en Provence which made it the National Conservatory of Dance and Music. The municipality sold the mansion to Culturespaces in 2010, it was fully renovated and is now an art center.
I found the layout of the Caumont particularly interesting. The Art Centre’s reception area in the East wing was the servants living quarters, the service quarters courtyard, where carriages were parked, is bordered by three buildings; including the South building stables and the West building housing an art collection. Nestled behind the buildings are the French gardens.
When we visited, the main exhibition area was preparing for a new installation, the gallery was closed. The second floor music room and the bedroom of Pauline de Caumont, with her furnishings and some of her clothes were open for viewing.
Adjacent to the reception area is a gift shop and on the other side the restaurant with four different seating areas, each with a different design. We opted for salads for lunch, amusingly named after operas.
As you can see, our lunch was beautifully plated and it tasted as good as it looked. Having such a good restaurant in a small museum is a bit of marketing genius. We were disappointment that there was no exhibition to view, but otherwise, the visit was worth it.
©2023, Photos and text by Aboud Dweck, all rights reserved.