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Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

Boston
Level Contributor
25 posts
210 reviews
Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

I will be traveling with my 20 year old daughter in early October. We land at 10:30 a.m. on Friday at the Marseille airport and leave Sunday at 14:00/ 2:00 p.m. We want to see as much as we can, but not run around crazy. Neither of us has ever been to the South of France. I thought we would use Aix-en-Provence as our base.

I was thinking we could land, spend the day in Cassis to see the town (maybe market on Friday if we get there on time) and see a Calanques or two. We love the beach and water and would enjoy a short hike or boat trip. The problem is that it seems impossible to get to Cassis from the airport unless I take a cab which would get pricey. (Over 100 euros???). Can we store our backpacks somewhere? Then how do we get to Aix?

On Saturday, I was thought we would rent a car to visit Luberon (Lourmarin, Roussillon, maybe Isle-sur-la-Sorgue if we can). I have rented a standard transmission car for the day for $100. Will the driving be difficult? Would another place be better to visit?

Any thoughts on this plan? Any other thoughts if I skip Cassis? Is there a logical way to see the calanques/beach and charming Provence. We don't care much about the history. More about scenery, markets and good food.

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
15,498 posts
65 reviews
1. Re: Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

Car rentals are always cheaper per day when you rent for a minimum of 3 days. Rent a car when you arrive. It will give you much more flexibility.

I'd wait until Sunday to go to L'Isle sur la Sorgue Go very early and catch the "grandaddy" of Provencal Markets and then drive the hour to the Marseille airport.

Aubrey, Texas
Level Contributor
10,527 posts
198 reviews
2. Re: Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

I agree with getting a car at the airport. Do Cassis and spend the night in Aix. Drive to the Luberon and spend the night there or in L'Isle. I'm with those who view markets as a waste of valuable time in Provence; fortunately my wife shares that opinion. Sunday you could visit Avignon before going to the airport.

Philadelphia, PA
Destination Expert
for Cassis, Marseille, Manosque, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
Level Contributor
1,745 posts
4 reviews
3. Re: Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

I also completely recommend the car rental from the airport, especially since your time is relatively short, you need to maximize it. If you book way in advance and pay online you can get some amazing rates. I have found that true with National or Citer, their French branch, if you can wrangle through the site in French. $100.00 for a day seems VERY expensive, however it is an automatic transmission. Normally a multiple day booked in advance will cost you less than that 1 day + taxi from the airport. With public transportation you will lose so much of that time, and a taxi is pricey. By car and in October, nothing is really far in Provence. Since you live in Boston, driving anywhere else is easy ;-b

Landing Friday at 10:30, I recommend to do Aix-en-Provence first. You wouldn't reach Cassis until early afternoon anyways, miss the market regardless. So enjoy Aix's atmosphere, museums, etc...spend the night there.

Saturday morning, leave for Cassis. This is October so not really beachy. Get in the calanques boat tour, have lunch on the port, stroll in the village, go see the vantage points on La Route des Cretes. In Autumn, Cassis is better on weekends anyways as it is very animated. Good food? If you don't mind the spend and do not want standard fare, go to Villa Madie 2* Michelin Guide, expensive.

I agree with texhills about fitting in Avignon, so do that Saturday afternoon, at a minimum visiting the Pope's Palace, it'll blow you away! Even if you are not into history, and Avignon is a wonderful city.

Then leave for l'Isle and sleep there so you can go to the market early and head for the airport.

Boston
Level Contributor
25 posts
210 reviews
4. Re: Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

Thank you both. Interesting option. How difficult with the driving be? I read somewhere that parking/driving in Cassis and Aix is difficult. The car I currently have rented doesn't have a gps. Rick Steves talks about getting lost in the Hill Towns. Do they work well there or should I do it the old fashioned way with a map?

Why do you think the markets are a waste?

Boston
Level Contributor
25 posts
210 reviews
5. Re: Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

Thank you. That is an interesting thought. I will check rentals at the airport although I liked the idea of an easy 30 minute bus ride from the airport to Aix.

Do you think it is too much to do Cassis and the Luberon towns in one day?

What will parking be like in Cassis on a Friday or Saturday in October? Can I drive by the Calanques to see them or do you park and then walk. If I do Cassis on Friday, I will have a small Ryan Air backpack.

Philadelphia, PA
Destination Expert
for Cassis, Marseille, Manosque, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
Level Contributor
1,745 posts
4 reviews
6. Re: Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

Luberon towns as in?

In October there will be no big parking issue in Cassi although weekends are busy you want to be there early

Aubrey, Texas
Level Contributor
10,527 posts
198 reviews
7. Re: Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

We don't do markets because there are many other things we like to see and do. Devoting several hours to a market when e.g. the Camargue or Arles awaits doesn't work for us. The Luberon is easy to get around using a map. Get Michelin map #527 for Provence.

Philadelphia, PA
Destination Expert
for Cassis, Marseille, Manosque, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
Level Contributor
1,745 posts
4 reviews
8. Re: Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

I agree that markets are great when you have a lot of time on your hands and have seen a lot of the rest. In this case it is see l'Isle and the market. I would have recommended Arles as an alternative to L'Isle, but not sure Roman ruins is a big favorite vs the sights and smells and atmosphere of l'Isle, if I understood their preferences correctly.

Philadelphia, PA
Destination Expert
for Cassis, Marseille, Manosque, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
Level Contributor
1,745 posts
4 reviews
9. Re: Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

EspritD, I wouldn't skip Cassis and the calanques, quite unique in the world at many levels.

When you say Luberon town-s you mean what exactly?

For the time frame you have I would also have alternative plans. If the Mistral wind is howling and it is grey and overcast, I would forego Cassis because you won't be able to do the boat trip, nor stroll, nor eat on the port. Just as an example...

Boston
Level Contributor
25 posts
210 reviews
10. Re: Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

As for Luberon towns, I was thinking Lourmarin, Roussillon and Isle-sur-la-Sorgue since they seem close to Aix. I did get a car reservation for 3 days. The advice has made me think. Would Avignon, Arles be better than the towns I mentioned above? Interesting thought to sleep in Isle instead of Aix. Further from the airport, but then I could catch the Sunday market. So much to see, so little time...

Also, good idea to check the weather. If I can get to Cassis on Friday, it would give me more time on Saturday to drive around. My new car reservation has a GPS - $22 a day, but maybe worth it.

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