Phallic Balconies of Place d'Albertas – Aix-en-Provence, France - Atlas Obscura

Phallic Balconies of Place d'Albertas

Balconies that have a most unusual accent. 


Nestled in the heart of charming rural Provence lies Aix-en-Provence, a wealthy bourgeois town with the sunbaked yellow stone and blue shutters of a romance novel.

In the very center of the old city lies a reminder of the preferred hobby of gentleman with a little extra time and money to spend: a brothel. Town legend has it that Aix’s prostitutes made their home on the Rue Espariat.

In 1745, Georges Vallon Jean-Baptiste d’Albertas bought a private house on the Rue Espariat, hoping to showcase his wealth through dramatic architecture and style. What he did not realize was that he had moved next door to the ancient brothel, whose second-story balconies featured metal-work penises as a way of announcing the house to potential customers.

In keeping with the contemporary Parisian architecture, Albertas bought the building next to his, as well as the entire street facing his home. In order to best show off his new mansion, Albertas destroyed the block of buildings on the other side of the road, creating a “place” with a fountain that showcased his own, architecturally stylish home. 

Poor Albertas determined that he would construct the new buildings around the place in the preexisting style of the street - brothel-style.

And so it is that the Place d’Albertas, one of the most beautiful spaces in Aix, features metal-work penises across the entire facade. What’s more, in some areas the phallic symbols switch direction, making them all the more obvious.

Today, the buildings surrounding the Place d’Albertas are rented as individual apartments. If you’ve ever wanted a penis balcony, this is the place for you.

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