Building Threat

The Town Council of Aix en Provence has recently granted a building permit (PC1300112J0204) to extend and rehabilitate the Paul Cezanne Nursing Home. This project represents a real threat to the surroundings steeped as it is in history with its view of the Sainte Victoire Mountain.


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Article appeared on "La Provence"



 The Town Council of Aix en Provence has recently granted a building permit (PC1300112J0204) to extend and rehabilitate the Paul Cezanne Nursing Home. This project represents a real threat to the surroundings steeped as it is in history with its view of the Sainte Victoire Mountain.

It is situated just below a public Park "Terrain des peintres" (Painters Park) 2000 m2 of land on the top of a hill, offered to the town council who created a terraced landscape as part of the commemoration of the Cezanne centenary. Here visitors can observe the famous mountain and countryside so dear to Cezanne who lived just further down the hill. It is both a tourist attraction and a means of preserving the charming atmosphere of Aix, a very popular haunt for both tourists and locals.

Up until now the nursing home did not seriously spoil the view offered from this Park being slightly to one side. Built in the 1950's with 3 floors and of no architectural beauty (photo1), it has been bought by a well known company specialized in nursing homes.

The plan is not only to rehabilitate the existing building, not compliant with today's building standards, but also to extend it, doubling its size. This extension will take place in the present garden of the nursing home, situated just at the bottom of Painters Park and merely separated from it by a narrow road with a pavement only on one side.

Not only will the view from the park be spoilt, the plan provides for a limited amount of parking places. This will create a hazard for the safety of visitors.

The floor area ratio for the home will be c. 80%, significantly higher than that allowed by Aix en Provence's land use plan which is 30% in this area. The town council justifies this exceptional high density by declaring the nursing home of "general interest". This notion is contested by local residents who consider it should not apply.

The new three floor building will be 10 m high, situated just below the Park. It will blot out the present breathtaking view of the Sainte Victoire Mountain with its beautiful surrounding countryside (photo2), leaving only a glimpse at the top end of the Park. The place where Cezanne used to paint in his old age, so far preserved from total urbanization, will thus be drastically reduced to a mere view point.

Aix en Provence's Town Council has given such a building permit without initially consulting local residents and their committees. The public in general should be alerted to the following points:

1) The height of the new building will obstruct the present view from Painters Park so precious to visitors and of cultural interest

2) The extension of the Cezanne nursing home will mean a twofold increase in floor area ratio with inadequate parking facilities both within the grounds and outside where the road bends dangerously.

We therefore propose to ask people to sign a petition calling Aix en Provence's Town Council to stop (withdraw) the building permit and find another more suitable plot of land.