Departing the pier in Marseilles with your group of no more than 30 guests, often times smaller, you will drive from the coast to the charming city of Aix en Provence, (Aix) approximately 50 minutes drive away. Along the way, your driver/guide will give you information about the area and the town you will be visiting. Aix was founded in 123 BC by the Romans, is the former medieval capital of Provence, and boasts elegant 16 - 18th century architecture, wide tree-lined boulevards, charming cafes, and shopping opportunities. You will soon see why it was a place of inspiration for artists such as Cezanne and writers including Hemingway.
Upon arrival, you will be dropped off next to the Rotonde Square, where the Rotunda Fountain erected in 1860 and the largest in the city, is located. From here, it is a short walk to the Cours Mirabeau, the city's "Main" street. You will have approximately 3 hours 30 minutes of free time during which you will be able to stroll through the Old Town and see such sites as the stunning 12th-century cathedral Saint-Sauveur, with architecture styles from the 5th to 17th century. The Hôtel de Ville, a classical style building from the middle of the 17th century, overlooks the place de l'Hôtel de Ville square, a wonderful place for watching the locals. At its side rises a clock-tower first built in 1510. Other buildings of note include the ornately decorated former Corn Exchange (17th century), the 1705 spa built near the remains of the ancient Roman baths of Sextius.
South of the Cours Mirabeau is the Quartier Mazarin. This residential district was constructed for the gentry of Aix in the last half of the 17th century and contains several notable grand townhouses. Here you can also find the church of Saint-Jean-de-Malte (13th century) and the Musée Granet, devoted to European painting and sculpture.
Aix is often referred to as the city of a thousand fountains, as you will begin to see as you walk down the Cours Mirabeau. During your stroll you may see the 17th century Fontaine des Quatre Dauphins (Fountain of the Four Dolphins) in the Quartier Mazarin, as well as other fountains of note in the Place d'Albertas and the Place des Trois-Ormeaux. Some date back to the Romans.
Nestled in between all this charming architecture are the markets, galleries, antique emporiums and cafes. During your free time, you may want to enjoy lunch (not included) at a cafe or restaurant of your choice. If you find one of the numerous markets taking place everyday in the center of the city, you may wish to just snack your way through it.
Departing Aix, you will drive to the seaside city of Marseilles. Here your driver will take you on a panoramic drive through the city. A 20 minute stop will be made at Notre-Dame de la Garde hill to either take a quick look at the basilica or to take pictures of the panoramic view over the city, harbor, Frioul islands and Castle. Your drive will continue on the Corniche Road along the sea shore, where the merchants and bourgeois from the 19th century showed off their wealth with magnificent houses with ostentatious decorations and features. A photo stop will also be made at Saint-Victor Abbey before going back to the cruise pier.
Reviewer: Peter J Jerszynski
Aix and Marseilles were beyond our expectations. Great tour and wonderful tour guide. Highly recommended
Reviewer: Dave & Heather
Florence was our tour guide and she was outstanding. Aix EN Provence was enchanting - she gave us a wonderful walking tour AND gave us sufficient time on our own to explore (which "big bus" tours typically don't). We even had time to venture to Cezanne's studio, plus enjoy a leisurely lunch (chosen from a couple great recommendations Florence made as well). Then back to Marseille, and a great tour there as well. We're enticed to go back, all because of Florence!
Reviewer: Alan J Cutler
Our tour guide was informative, flexible and she added to our overall enjoyment of Aix and Marseilles. We were also given plenty of time to be on our own to explore what we desired.
Avions acheté cet excursion en croyant être en groupe comme mentionné, mais étonnement, nous étions seul avec la guide... Bravo! Et merci. Note, la guide est venue nous chercher directement au bateau.
Reviewer: Beverly Johnson
We had a great time in Provence. We were a group of 7. The town was just waking up although there were coffee shops. We were able to walk leisurely through the town taking pictures and enjoying this beautiful city. After a traditional French breakfast with a lovely glass of rose' we headed to Marseille. We were give history of the city and the opportunity to visit and spend time in two historic Cathedrals. Enjoyed this day very much.