Exclusive Aix En Provence and Marseilles
Sale Price: $139.00
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 Hotel de Ville, a classical style building from the middle of the 17th century, overlooks the place de l'Hotel 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 Musee 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.
Beautiful sites and guide was good. Just enough time to shop on our own.
Our guide, Emmanuel (sp?), was prompt and courteous--got us to Aix in plenty of time to wander the streets at our leisure and to each stop in Florence with enough time to check everything out before pushing on. We were back to the ship with time to spare. From what little I saw of it, Marseilles really is the type of place that you need a tour (or a few full days) to properly explore. Everything is very spread out, and getting up to Notre Dame de la Garde is no joke. Very much enjoyed all of Emmanuel's insight during drives, and I think the day was a great mixture of at-your-own-pace exploration in Aix and more structured stop-hopping in Marseilles. I do wish the guide had actually accompanied us during some of our time at the Basilica or in Aix--he mostly stayed with the car or did his own thing while we looked around. Loved the freedom, but it would have been nice to learn more about some of the bigger sites. Overall, a great experience.
Reviewer: Jeffrey Hine
Bus trip to Aix En Provence was speedy and efficient. The guide gave us some basic info on AEP and as this was not a guided visit, we set off on our own based on her earlier guidance. Marseilles was a bus tour an trip up to the church on the hill, where you have a great vista. Traffic was tough but our driver did a good job.
Reviewer: Linda Robinson
This tour person took us to Aix en Provence and then to Marseille and to the Notra Dome church. He explained about the areas but didn't personally walk with us to the different points. We were on our own.
Reviewer: Brent Dobbs
The walk to the bus was much too long. The tour of the cities was interesting and we were given free time in an open market.