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Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

Boston
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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.

Philadelphia, PA
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for Cassis, Marseille, Manosque, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
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11. Re: Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

However much I love Aix, I think it is almost the perfect town to live in the south, from a tourist point of view with limited time, I think it could be skipped. Great atmosphere, great architecture, fountains, streets, shops, Musee Granet for Cezanne, more of a leisurely strolling place.

Now with a car from the airport (yes, if the cost is OK for you, I always take a GPS in a place I do not know, well worth the extra $ and again, with limited time, you don't want to get lost) you could:

- go to Cassis have lunch, do the boat tour, sleep in Cassis. If you have just flown in from the US you will be tired and jet lagged! Have breakfast chez Monsieur Brun the cafe with red chairs and awnings on the port. Awesome cafe au lait and croissants! If Marseille is not your inbound US flight and aren't tired an alternative is to head to Aix after Cassis for dinner and to sleep. 1 1/2 drive, depends how much you want to press in that day.

- Saturday morning head towards Avignon, Arles and even pont du Gard, your day will be full. Skip Pont du Gard and do a village on your way to l'Isle. The villages of the Luberon are beautiful but they are villages so you can visit and soak up the atmosphere without spending hours. If if fits, plan to eat where you choose to go. With limited time I wouldn't multiply the villages. Rousillon is known for the colorful canyon so is more of a light hiking visit, maybe next time! Lourmarin or even better, Gordes as it is only 1/2 hour from L'Isle, and if price is no issue, you can stay and dine at the upscale Oustau de Baumaniere, then drive early to l'Isle Sunday.

Now you need Google Maps, a guide and make choices to design your itinerary. Keep options open, for example, I believe Best Western hotels honor the 6pm same day cancellation worldwide so book Hotel La Rade in Cassis, but also A Best Western in Aix, so if the weather doesn't permit or you feel you've seen enough of Cassis and want dinner in Aix you can change. Just remember to cancel the other one! Also it is October so crowds are long gone making changes easier.

Philadelphia, PA
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for Cassis, Marseille, Manosque, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
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12. Re: Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

Print your whole itinerary from Google mapsor other (Marseille Airport / Cassis / Aix / Avignon /.... and look and that before you need to drive. That way you are a bit familiarized with the route, the GPS is easier to follow when you have a general idea.

Boston
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13. Re: Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

Great info. Unfortunately, I booked my hotel late last night. Decided to stay in Aix and make it home base. My daughter has a friend there, too. Here is what I am thinking, weather permitting:

Friday - land at 10:30 and do Cassis. Should I worry about leaving backpacks in the car? We are flying Ryan Air from Madrid (no jet lag) and so they are small. Not sure if we will hike or boat to see the Calanques. We could carry them or I could go straight to the hotel, drop them off (30 minutes) and then head to Casis? Sounds like it is a 90 minute drive from Aix. Should I worry about leaving things in the car?

Saturday - road trip as you described

Sunday - perhaps relax, have a nice breakfast and see Aix or mini road trip (Luberon village?) somewhere before we fly out at 2:30. Any thoughts?

Thank you for all of your suggestions.

Aubrey, Texas
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14. Re: Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

"Saturday - road trip as you described"

If that means you spend minimal time in the Luberon I think it's a mistake. Your original itinerary was more focused. You're trying to do too much now, I think.

Marseille, France
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15. Re: Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

Hi there and welcome in Provence. Basing yourself in Aix in indeed the right thing to do.

Good idea for Cassis and the calanques within the same day, hiking is fun but you have many boat options (I only know those departing from Marseille but I guess you'll find some in Cassis). The landscape are marvelous you'll love it, however keep in mind that the water is cold in this place (I don't know why) even in late summer. From Cassis to Aix there might be buses (cartreize) but I advise you to take the local trains... though honestly you should rent a car for this day.

Direclty from the Airport, you'll have to go to Marseille by bus and then take a train to Cassis. However, if I were you I'd go directly to Aix and spent the first day visiting Aix en Provence and go to Cassis for the day after.

If you're okay with small climbing roads it's just fine. Road are good in this area. if you want to avoid touristic tracs I advise you to see Saignon and "Plateau des Clapparèdes" or Buoux (there a Castle there that is absolutely fantastic).

Aix-en-Provence has a GREAT market on Saturday. Luberon is a great idea but that will be a long journey (1h30/2h from Aix to arrive in the Luberon). If you skip Cassis you can easily go to the calanques from Aix in Bus through Marseille. Bus + metro + Bus : 1h30 commuting in public transportation + 45 minutes walking to the best spot which is SUGITON.

Other ideas : Marseille. Malmousque, Corniche Kennedy, MUCEM, Panier, Vieux-Port, you have great places there to.

Now if you're aim is only about going to villages : you can also go the Saint Victoire for a hike if you like that.

Arles is a nice typical Provençal/camargue city : easy to go there by train from aix. (1h, 1h30), the station is at 10 minutes from the very inner city by walking.

Don't hesitate if you need more advise, I know the place by heart.

R.

Edited: 12 September 2014, 21:54
Marseille, France
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16. Re: Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

Friday : Cassis and Calanques, you can leave your belongings in the car if you hide them a bit. Cassis is safe.

Saturday : DO AIX (sunday everything is closed) : markets, breakfirst etc. Spend the evening around Aix : Cucurron is nice.

Sunday : day trip to Luberon : everything will be closed so sunday is definitively the best day for countryside visits.

Boston
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17. Re: Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

Thank you for your post. Here is my plan so far:

Friday: Arrive at Marseille airport at 10:30, rent a car and drive to Cassis to see the town, have lunch and see the Calanques, probably by boat. Should I try to park in the town or elsewhere? Sugestions? Late afternoon, drive to Aix to our hotel. Dinner in Aix.

Saturday: See the Aix market and then do a road trip somewhere. There are so many options. Arles, Avignon,

L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. Saturday night, dinner and walk around in Aix.

Sunday: I read that everything in Aix is closed. Some people recommended the market in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, but I need to be at the Marseille airport for a 2:30 flight (arrive at 1 p.m.). I was thinking maybe Sunday morning might be a good time to see Luberon. Will anything be open? Could we have breakfast in Lourmarin or another town? Will it be easy to get to the airport?

Let me know what you think of this plan. Thank you.

18. Re: Flying into Marseille area for 3 days

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