THE city of Aix-en-Provence has some making up to do when it comes to Paul Cézanne. Before he died 100 years ago, the artist offered to donate the contents of his studio to the city’s art gallery. The curator spurned the offer, saying the gallery wanted proper art.

The knock-back was a familiar story in the life of the man who has been dubbed the father of modern art. A century on, to mark the anniversary of his death, France has declared 2006 the year of Cézanne – offering new ways to sell Provence if you have clients who are art lovers.

Three of the most important sites where Cézanne painted have been opened to the public for the first time, and the Granet Museum in Aix-en-Provence has been renovated and will host a major exhibition, Cézanne en Provence.

Running from June 9 to September 17, the exhibition will showcase 116 of the painter’s works. Mission Cézanne partnerships manager Jacob Mayne said: “Visitors will be able to see the works and the context in which they were painted. This hasn’t happened before and won’t happen again on the same scale.

“The city has also acquired sites that were important to Cézanne and opened them up to the public for the first time.”

Visitors will be able to see Cézanne’s family home, Jas de Bouffan, the Bibémus stone quarries where he painted, and his last studio – Studio Les Lauves – which has been reconstructed and will have images of the Cézanne’s work projected on the walls.

There is also an educational exhibition called Invitation to Cézanne.

Cresta France offers four nights at the four-star Grand Hotel Mercure in Aix-en-Provence from £452 per person in June, on a twin-share bed-and-breakfast basis, including flights.

On the web

Aix-en-Provence tourist office:
Cézanne museum, Aix-en-Provence:

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