University programmes, markets and pétanque: the diverse partnership between Aix-en-Provence and Tübingen

The 60-year partnership between Tübingen and Aix-en-Provence has successfully stood the test of time. The agreement, signed in 1960, aims for close cooperation in the fields of culture and cultural heritage. The two university cities are the setting for a diverse and sometimes surprising partnership initiative. Whether pupil, student, culture lover or sports fan, there is something for everyone.

‘Aix’ and Tübingen are primarily university cities, and it is this special feature that is at the heart of the partnership. In addition to the exchange of schools, the two cities are at the origin of a unique and original university course. Bearing the name TübAix, it enables students in France (University of Aix-Marseille) and Germany (Eberhard-Karl University of Tübingen) to study history in order to obtain a double degree.

However, the aim of this partnership is also to share the identity and folklore of a city with its partner city. The tradition of markets, which is very important in Aix-en-Provence, is a good example of this. Every year French manufacturers and retailers bring the sunny taste of the south to the Tübingen ‘Umbrisch-Provenzalischen Genusstagen’ (Umbrian Provincial Days of Indulgance). In return, when Christmas comes, German retailers will delight visitors at Aix’s ‘Internationalen Markt der Partnerstädte’ (International Market of Twin Cities) with pretzels and mulled wine. It’s not just food that brings cities together, however, but also art and literature. In the cities of Cezanne and Manet it would be unthinkable not to have art and paintings. The Leonard et ses amis association, which brings together hobby painters from Aix, has a close relationship with a hobby painters association from Tübingen. Exhibitions are organised in both cities every year. The members now know each other very well and want to meet again and again. That too is part of the partnership between the two cities.

Even petanque has crossed the border. The famous sport from Marseille has found enthusiastic players in the Tübingen club “La Fanny Joyeuse e.V.”. One question remains: when will the tournament between the twin cities take place?