Exploring Marseille and beyond

Marseille Foire aux Santons poster

Marseille (13 Bouches-du-Rhone, Provence) holds its annual Foire Aux Santons 16 November 2019 – 5 January 2020 on the Quai du Port in the heart of the city. The Santon is a small carved wooden nativity figure, a very tradtional part of Christmas in France.

For more info see www.foire-aux-santons-de-marseille.fr

marseilleIn addition to being the oldest city in France, Marseille can also lay claim to being the largest commercial port in the country. Its ferry terminal is gateway to the islands of Sardinia and Corsica, together with North Africa, a region which has greatly influenced the culture and feel of the city.

Like any bustling metropolis, Marseille (13 Bouches-du-Rhone, ProvencePACA), with its Mediterranean coastline along France`s south east Riviera, boasts an array of transport amenities to satisfy the needs of its burgeoning tourist trade, as well as its resident population of well over three quarters of a million.

Marseille centre is located approximately 25 kilometres south of the main Marseille Provence Airport and can be easily reached by road in approximately 20 to 30 minutes. A shuttle bus service runs to the main railway station, where connections can be made to destinations such as Nice, Bordeaux and Montpellier, whilst taxis are also readily available. Once in Marseille, the city centre itself is networked by a Metro system, complimented by a regular bus service and more recently, the addition of a tramway.

Marseille was designated the European Capital of Culture for 2013 and with its wealth of theatres, art centres and a famous Opera House, it`s not difficult to understand how it earned the entitlement. Yet if you`re prepared to venture further than just where your own two feet can carry you, you`ll find plenty more treasures, not least of which is Notre Dame de la Garde, commanding spectacular views over the entire city.

Like any major terminus, hire cars are ready and waiting the moment you step through arrivals at Marseille Provence Airport and with an extensive motorway network easily accessible, the provision of a car during your time in Marseille opens up some serious exploration potential way beyond the central hub.

xmas treeIn December you can visit the Christmas Market Foire aux Santons ( 16 November 2019 – 5 Marseilles Jazz posterJanuary 2020 ) on the Vieux Port – see www.sortiramarseille.fr


In November there is a big Jazz Festival Jazz sur la ville 5 November – 7 December 2019 with 250 artists performing in 68 events at 35 venues in Marseille and surrounding towns including Arles. Salon de Provence and Avignon. – see http://jazzsurlaville.fr/

For a film festival taster, Cannes is less than two hours drive away, while St Tropez is just as accessible, via an impressive coastal drive. Further east lies sophisticated Nice and if you fancy a flutter, you can always park up in Monte Carlo. And even if you didn`t pack the tight fitting suit and shiny crash helmet, few will be able to resist the temptation to do just one lap through the streets of the Monaco Grand Prix circuit – within the speed limit that is.

Of course it`s not necessary to spend your time clocking up the miles to enjoy the freedom a car can bring. Marseille is part of the Provence wine region and a short hop inland will soon find you in vineyard territory, passing through traditional towns and villages. Or maybe just take a short trip along the Mediterranean coastline to find a secluded beach and magnificent views.

Hiring a car means you won`t be forced to adhere to any timetables or be at the mercy of last minute cancellations or worse still, wildcat strikes. Conversely, there is a need to weigh up the cost of the fuel and remember that on many major routes you will encounter tolls. You`ll also need to be sure you can park near your accommodation and keep in mind that French drink drive limits are some of the strictest in Europe.

You don`t have to commit to picking up a vehicle at the airport. There are numerous other collection and drop off points across the region. So whether it`s for the whole trip or just a few hours, try car hire Marseille to bring you the freedom do what you want, when you want.

And of course, with a car you’d be able to visit the vineyards of some great wine appellations – e.g. Les Baux de Provence, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, Bandol – and a little further you could fit in a trip to Chateauneuf-du-Pape (north of Avignon) or the Costières de Nimes (to the south west of Avignon) – and the wonders of the southern Côtes du Rhone are within easy reach!

We would seriously recommend a visit to Mas Sainte Berthe, Les Baux de Provence AC near Les Baux de Provence – great wines (and olive oil, tapenade etc), stunning position and a signposted walk around the vines to help you understand what you are seeing.

TGVBy Train/TGV/Eurostar to Marseille with Rail Europe

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