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Marseille as base for Provence day trips?

Marseille as base for Provence day trips?

Jan 10th, 2011, 08:02 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jan 2005
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Marseille as base for Provence day trips?

We will have 3-4 days to spend in Provence, between time in Lyon visiting family. We are considering making Marseille a "home base" for a few days, and renting a car for a day to drive through Provence, with a route something like Aix en Provence to Saint Remy to Arles and back to Marseille (mapped this on Michelin - about 2.5 hours without stops). Few questions:

1) Is driving a day through Provence doable? (I realize this isn't ideal because we'd be "rushing through" the beautiful countryside rather than savoring it)
2) Is Marseille a decent base (I've read so many conflicting reports about the city)
3) Should we make another place a home base? (We've been to Avignon and Nice)

We are hoping to be someplace with a little bit of action and vibrance. Also thinking about renting bikes or scooters (if we can find them! We are seasoned Vespa owners). We've also thought about making a base in Aix instead.

Any suggestions? I welcome all thoughts!

Many thanks!
vmsilva is offline  
Jan 10th, 2011, 08:35 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I like Marseille. I stay there when I want to see Marseille. When I need a base for Provence, I stay elsewhere.

Aix-en-Provence has a "little bit of action and vibrance" and is generally considered a better locale for daytripping.
Josh is offline  
Jan 10th, 2011, 09:07 PM
  #3  
 
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IMO, very poor idea to base in Marseille & expect to explore Provence.

>>1) Is driving a day through Provence doable? (I realize this isn't ideal because we'd be "rushing through" the beautiful countryside rather than savoring it)<<

If you just want to "sniff" the air - you can drive in & out of a very small portion of Provence in a day - but I would certainly not recommend it. We've spent 18 weeks there (plus 16 on the Cote d'Azur) - and are still finding new things to do & see.

>>2) Is Marseille a decent base <<

Nope - not in my book

>>3) Should we make another place a home base? (We've been to Avignon and Nice)<<

Try St Remy or in the Luberon near Gordes/Roussillon/Bonnieux for a base, to get you closer to the sites in Provence.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Jan 10th, 2011, 11:29 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
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We left our cruise ship in Mars. Went directly to the airport picked up a car and stayed at a reasonable chateau in Lambesc
Toured the plus beau villages and had a wonderful time in the 4 days in Provence. Traffic in Aix was horrible the one time we ventured there. The roads are just fine, the villages outstanding, and the food and wine great. I'd do it the same way again.
amer_can is offline  
Jan 10th, 2011, 11:37 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
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I like Marseille, but why make it a base if you are going to rent a car? You can stay in a different town every day. With most car rental companies, you could drop off the car at no extra charge at some other city without having to return to Marseille.
kerouac is offline  
Jan 11th, 2011, 01:21 PM
  #6  
 
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Agree about Aix-a little more inviting at the end of a touristy day in my opinion. Aquabella Hotel super if you have a car and the pool heated by thermal springs is a perfect place to rest!
TDudette is online now  
Jan 11th, 2011, 01:33 PM
  #7  
 
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As first-timers, we stayed in St. Remy as Stu recommends. We found it to be very conveniently located, and a very nice town in its own right. However, it is significantly smaller than Marseille (or Aix, for that matter). Be advised.

We found Arles to be an interesting town as well, with a nicely preserved Roman amphitheater.
mr_go is offline  
Jan 11th, 2011, 02:36 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
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What do you want to see in the time you have? Get a guide and a map, draw a circle around the sights that interest you, and then decide what would make a good base. I don't think it will be Marseille, as other towns are closer to the major sights.
Underhill is offline  

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