Leaving Your Trip in Aix-en-Provence

This page offers help (concrete or informational) on leaving your trip. Topics include...

  1. Where you leave your trip (see immediately below).
  2. The closest airports.
  3. Our “Access Packages,” designed to help you reach them.
  4. Suggestions on how to time your ongoing travel, whether you are having us arrange it, or doing it yourself.
  5. Service information regarding train travel from your trip end location.
  6. Suggested post-trip visits, especially when these are not geographically obvious, but are rendered economical and convenient by direct rail connections.
  7. Hopefully helpful hints for those setting up their own travel from the trip.

If you wish to arrange some or all of your travel through us, please tell us what by means of this response questionnaire, designed to collect all the information we need to be able to book your travel.



1. WHERE and WHEN Do You Leave Your Trip?

Your trip disbands on Friday, upon arrival in Aix-en-Provence, at the end of a full riding day.

If you wish to arrange your own ongoing travel (in other words, you do not want to set up any ongoing travel arrangements through us), a couple of hints regarding ongoing travel are offered at the bottom of this page.  Otherwise...



2. The CLOSEST AIRPORTS

The closest airport is Marseille, which you can reach from downtown Aix in under an hour via an every-half-hour shuttle bus.  Marseille is well-served by intra-European flights (including “low cost” carriers which do not encumber their planes with seats), but has no intercontinental service.

Direct TGV (high-speed train) service runs from Aix to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport (intercontinental flights) in under 3 hours.

Other intercontinental airports in Nice and Geneva can be reached in about the same travel time, though trains do not run direct to the airports.
There is a frequent shuttle train from Geneva’s central station to the airport, making the trip in 10 minutes.  A shuttle bus operates to the Nice airport from the station every 20 minutes.  See “Service Information,” below, for details of train service to the two cities.

The nearest “low cost” airport is Marseille, but travel to central London or Brussels is as fast or faster (and generally more reliable / comfortable) by train.



3. Our ACCESS PACKAGES
as of February 16, 2015

Our “Access Package” includes a Friday night in Aix (hotel, dinner and breakfast included), and ongoing train tickets on Saturday (a version without the train is on offer).

Base (Starting) Access Package Price:  155€ (115€ without rail tickets).
To see what this means in your currency, look here:  http://www.bluemarble.org/CurrencyConv.html

Availability is fairly reliable until 35 days prior to trip start (payment received by us), because we try to hold an allotment of hotel space in Aix until then, and there is always a seat on one or another acceptable train, though prices may be slightly higher for late bookings.  Within 35 days, it must be confirmed, and costs are generally higher.  All services are subject to availability.

Included:

  • A festive Friday dinner in Aix, with your fellow Marbles.
  • A Friday hotel night in Aix, based on shared occupancy (private single rooms available at additional cost).  Typically, most of your past weeks’ travelling companions will also be staying over.
    Share price guaranteed to singles willing to share until 35 days before trip start.   After that, you may request a share, but must be prepared to pay for a single room if no one can be found with whom to share.
  • Breakfast, if your ongoing travel plans are compatible with it.
  • Saturday train tickets from Aix to Paris, Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, Geneva, or Nice.
    Tickets are not refundable or exchangeable once ordered (see below for extra cost first class or flexible tickets).
  • Seat reservations on your selected train(s).
  • All taxes, baggage charges, and booking fees.
    In other words, there are no surprise add-ons.
  • Ticket shipping charges.
    There aren’t any, since your tickets are delivered to you on the trip.
  • A printed schedule / itinerary
    Highlights any connections, and includes detailed instructions on getting to the appropriate Aix station (there are 3).

Options Offered at an Extra Cost (subject to availability)
Prices are in addition to the “Base” Access Package Price. 
For a general discussion of train upgrades, see here.  Topics include the relative comfort of first versus second class, and different types of accommodation available on overnight trains.

  • Tickets to London.  Via Lille:   add 69€ if you also requested tickets from London to your trip, 99€ if not (in 1st class, add 99€ or 145€).  Via Paris, all fares are 10€ higher.
    Services via Lille are easier (one connection in the same station) and less expensive.   But they are less frequent, and can take up to an hour longer than the fastest services via Paris (despite the Paris station change).  See “Service Information,” below, for details.

  • Tickets to anywhere else in France:  +28€ maximum.
    You may either request tickets to a specific destination (in which case seat reservation charges are included in the cost).   Or you may ask for an open travel voucher, which is good for travel to anywhere you choose to go — you may even decide the question the day you board the train.  The cost of seat reservations on your chosen trains (typically 5€ / train if you wait on line at the station, 15€ / train if you book through us) is additional if you do not order them at the same time as the travel voucher.

    Additional vouchers for further trips within France are available at a cost of 40€ per travel day in 2nd class, 48€ / travel day in 1st class (all travel must be in the same class, first or second, to make use of the vouchers).

  • Flexible (modifiable, refundable) tickets.
    To Paris, CdG airport, Barcelona or Geneva:  +19€.  To Nice, +10€.  To all other points within France, Italy, Belgium, or to Barcelona:  +26€.
    These tickets are exchangeable at any station, on a space-available basis, at any time until the train’s departure.   The exchange is free if it is made prior to the date of travel, and costs 10€ on the date of travel.  Cost of either exchange is 10€ higher if you make it through us (as opposed to going to the ticket counter yourself).  Tickets are refundable less 20% until the train’s departure.

  • 1st class train tickets (in lieu of 2nd class).  To Paris, CdG Airport, or Geneva:  +21€ (+31€ on Friday night).  To Nice, +14€.  To all other points within France:  maximum of 28€ additional.
    These discount rates are not always available.  But the next highest fare code is only 10€ more expensive.  For 1st class tickets which are modifiable, and refundable less 20%, add the price for modifiable tickets, above.

  • Trains to other points.  Prices include reservations where required.  Saturday daylight trains to:
    - Barcelona, Brussels:  +29€ 2nd class, +44€ in 1st class.
    - Florence, Venice, Cinque Terre, or Milan:  +24€ in 2nd class, +39€ in 1st class.
    - Holland, Germany:  +79€ 2nd class, +99€ 1st class.
    Saturday overnight trains to Alsace (connections to Germany) or to Luxembourg (connections to Belgium or Holland), including a couchette on board.  +39€ to anywhere in France or Luxembourg, +49€ to any of the listed international destinations.

  • Single room in Aix:  +33€.

  • Additional nights in Aix:  +58€ shared occupancy, +89€ single, taxes included, breakfast not included.
    Shared occupancy rate guaranteed to singles on the post-trip Friday night only.  Breakfast is available at additional cost:  +8€, payable directly to the hotel upon check-out.

  • Paris airport train tickets, to Charles de Gaulle or Orly from anywhere in Paris. 
    Not necessary if you are travelling directly from Aix to the airport.

Alternate Arrangements, in lieu of our usual packages (subject to availability)
Prices are complete (in other words, they are not in addition to the “Base” Access Package Price)

  • Friday evening train to Paris, 92€; Nice, 46€.
    If you do this, we suggest booking the last train, circa 8p, to avoid putting pressure on a beautiful biking day.  These tickets are modifiable (change fee, paid directly to the railroad, is 10€).  So, if you get in early, and an earlier train has space, you can take it.
    But that would be unusual:  Friday night trains almost always sell out.  The latest train to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport is too early to make the cycling day a comfortable one:  see service information, below.


  • Friday overnight trains to Alsace (connections to Germany) or Luxembourg (connections to Belgium or Holland), including a couchette on board.  109€, 149€ including any of the listed international connections.
    You do not have time for dinner with the group if you opt for one of these, and so the evening meal is not included in these prices.  You will have time to have supper in Aix before your train's departure, or you may dine on the old port in Marseille (where you board the night train after a 30-minute ride from Aix).



4. TIMING Your Trip

If we may influence your thinking on the topic of timing... Aix is lovely, one of Provence’s prettiest cities.  And you will not have time to see it on Friday, when the trip reaches town at the end of a full riding day.  Try to plan a Saturday (or later) departure from Aix, rather than trying to “get out” on the evening of the day you pedal in.  Remember:  a 6p flight from Marseille airport means targeting an airport arrival at 4:30p, which means catching the shuttle at 3p, which means that you have to drop the bike and get your luggage by 2p....  You might as well leave now!  HURRY!!!!

Instead, plan a Saturday flight from Marseille, a Saturday afternoon flight from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle (you reach Paris via an early-morning train from Aix), or, best of all, a Sunday flight (this means scheduling Saturday night somewhere within striking distance of an airport).  Depending on your choice, you get to spend at least Friday evening, and hopefully Saturday, too, exploring Aix.


5. Service Information
Schedules are approximate – exact timetables can be consulted at
http://www.raileurope.com/index.html.
Best trains are mentioned.  Others are slower or have multiple connections.

Most main line trains depart from an airport-like suburban station, though (depending on the schedule) it can be faster or easier to take a local train from downtown Aix to Marseille, and catch the main line train there, instead.  Schedules shown below include the time required by the shuttle bus from downtown Aix to the suburban Aix TGV station (cost circa 5€), or by the shuttle train into Marseille (included in the ticket price).  Taxi service to the Aix TGV station is also available (circa 40€). 

When a connection is mentioned, it is in additional to the inevitable one that happens either at the Aix TGV station or in Marseille.

The shuttle bus to the Aix TGV station is reliable, but allowing an additional 15 minutes (in other words, taking the shuttle bus 15 minutes before the one you theoretically need to catch) is a prudent precaution if missing your train would have catastrophic results.  Buses are subject to traffic delays.

  • To Paris.  Trip time is 3'45", Saturday service starts at 6:45a, and then runs pretty much every hour.
    The last Friday evening train is at 7:45p (arrive Paris 11:30p).
  • To Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport.  Trip time is 4'15", service starts at 5:45a with a connection (ar 10:30a), 6:45a direct. Other direct services run at 2p, 5p and 6p. Connecting services run throughout the day.
    Thus even the first train only connects to Saturday intercontinental flights departing after 12:30p.
    The last Friday night direct service is at 5:45p.   Catching this one puts some pressure on the day... it may be preferable to travel via Paris if you must go up on Friday night.
  • To Geneva.  Trip time is 4.5 - 5 hours, service every two hours throughout the day with one connection.  Direct trains (no connections) run at 1:30p and at 5:30p.
  • To Nice.  Trip time is 3.5 - 4 hours.  Service is irregular, but the longest gap between trains is 90 minutes.
  • To Barcelona.  A daily direct train departs Aix at 7:30a, and arrives Barcelona at 12:30p.
    Services requiring a connection in Montpellier operate at 1p, 2p and 4p:   6.5-hour trip.
  • To London.  Trip time is 7.5 - 8.5 hours (a one-hour time change means that the clock-face timing is one hour less).  Via Paris (with a station change in Paris) at 7:15a, 9a, then hourly.  Via Lille at 6a, 6:30a, and 2p.


6. Suggested POST-TRIP VISITS

The French or Italian Riviera, Tuscany, Cinque Terre, the French Alps....


7. Hints on TRAVELLING INDEPENDENTLY After the Trip
Guests subscribing to an “Access Package” need not read this section.

See also “Timing Your Trip” and “Service Information,” above, as either of these may additionally help.

We gladly provide travel consulting (schedule or routing information) concerning post-trip individual travel.  In particular, we have invested a great deal to become railway experts.  Our service fees are reasonable:  a 20€ charge for all but the most complex projects – or the most simple (for instance, only a 10€ charge applies if the service is limited to the preparation of a routine rail ticket).  You will generally find them well-justified by the time they will save you in research, standing on line, overpaying for your tickets, or all three.

But, for some, this type of research is fun.  So, here are some hints, intended to start off hardened “do-it-yourselfers.”

Trains.  Schedules for all routes can be consulted on this web site:
http://www.raileurope.com/us/rail/point_to_point/triprequest.htm

Aix is served by TGV (high-speed train) to northern France, including direct service to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport.  Main line trains also run to elsewhere in France, Switzerland, northeastern Spain, and northern Italy.  Overnight sleeper trains go to western Germany. 



If you wish to arrange some or all of your travel through us, please tell us what by means of this response questionnaire, designed to collect all the information we need to be able to book your travel.

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