Marseille/Provence

 

Type : City Break, Beach
Best Date :  April- August
Expense :  Fair
Things to do : city tours, cruises, shopping, dining
Points of Interest: Vieux Port, Notre Dam de la Garde, Palais Longchamp, Marseille Cathedral, Calanque National Park, Pointe Rouge ect

Brief

Provence is a region in south east of France, which includes cities such as Montpellier, Avignon and Cannes. The Romans made this region into their first settlement which they called ‘Provincia Romana’ which has since evolved through the years. The largest city in Provence is ‘Marseille’ a port city used for cruise, freight and commerce ships. Marseille is and has been the main port of trade throughout the years, being the main entry point of France from Africa. Today tourism has taken heights with Marseille being a huge layover for many cruise ships, here tourists have the chance to enjoy Marseille’s architecture, culture, natural beauty and history dating back to the ancient Greeks.

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The Place

Marseille was a pleasure to visit, it was warm and sunny (beginning of july) with many friendly and lively people. Firstly Marseille is a relatively huge city and unlike many other places in the world where the attractions are close and a walk away from each other, Marseille has nearly all of their touristic areas far apart, which either means lots of walking or lots of transports. However there is many ways in order to make visiting all areas easier with minimal walking and using different of different transport and that is by using their hop on hop off bus tours which has 12 stops to all Marseille has to offer.

There are also many different points of interest to go and visit in Marseille, main one (in my opinion) being the Notre Dam de la Garde, which towers over Marseille just like ‘Christ the Redeemer’ in Rio de Janiero  Brazil. However the Notre Dam de la Garde is more than a statue but a church/ basilica which was built for the virgin Mary said to watch over the sailors. Underneath  the basilica is a crypt also available to be visited without any tickets. Another place to visit is Marseille Cathedral which like many cathedrals around the world have a special roman structures. About a 20minute walk away from the cathedral is the Museum of European and Mediterranean civilization, which is a very nice building but to be honest I have got no idea what it is inside. Connected to this with a newly built bridge is Fort St Jean which is a nicely preserved.

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As Marseille is a port city, it is only right that there would be boat cruises to nearby attractions. There are many different companies offering tours to many different places, there are tours just across the beach to Chateu D’If , some cruises to other ports of Provence and some across the Calanques National Park. Many cruise tours stop over places for people to get off and have a swim and others are solemnly just a ride around.

Marseille has plenty different activities which visitors can do, and if you are adventurous, strolling and even biking around Calanques national park is a popular feature. Water Sports and activities are also huge in Marseille with scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking , paddle boarding, are just some of the many activities done in Marseille waters. Adrenaline seekers will also find Marseille pleasing as there are now many companies offering canyoning or an orienteering race.

If a stroll is more like your holiday Marseille has plenty of places to do so, Vieux Port which every morning has a fisherman’s market selling the daily catch is a brilliant area to have a walk. Another place I heard was a nice place to have a walkathon is the ‘National Park’ just 30 minutes outside of Marseille.

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Overall I fully enjoyed Marseille and all it had to offer, it is a city full of tourists whether a stopover on their cruise ships, or purposely visiting the city. There are many different hotels and restaurants at different budgets for everybody and many of their attractions are free.

Transport

Getting there

Marseille is a very popular destination in the south of France, and it attracts scores of people throughout the year. There are plenty modes of transport that can be taken to go to Marseille from around the world.

Firstly by train, Marseille has many domestic and international rail journeys to St Charles train station. SNCF is the main company which connects Marseille, however SNCF-Renfre partnership also has journeys coming from Spain.

There are also many airline carriers that operate in Marseille Provence Airport. Only British Airways is the only notable direct flight from LHR and only 1 of 3 from London. Other airlines flying from London to Marseille are ‘Easy jet’ which flies from Gatwick and ‘Ryan air’ which flies from Stanstead. Other airlines including ‘Air France’ have a stop over so it will not be too convenient as the 3 direct flights.

In Marseille

Getting to Marseille from the airport is a bit more difficult than other cities. There is no subway system and the nearest train station is a 15minute walk. The best way to travel is by the  airport-city coach which takes you straight from the airport and into St Charles train station which is central to the city.

Once in Marseille there are various modes of transport you can take buses, metro subway, tram and even by boat.

The metro (subway) in Marseille consists of only 2 lines identified a simple metro ‘1’and ‘2’. Metro 2 journeys north to south, whilst  Metro 1 is a U shaped starting from ‘La Rose’ which goes inwards to ‘Vieux Port’ the outwards to ‘La Fourragere. Both lines interlinks at St Charles which is the main train station of Marseille and Castellene.

I was very impressed with the tram system in Marseille, it was new, modern, very easy to use and spacious. You can see that Marseille has put a lot of thought to their trams and the carriages were designed with a futuristic modern appearance, inside the tram was air-conditioned and had lots of space, very comfortable. There is 3 lines to the Marseille tram system, T1,T2 and T3.

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There were many different bus journeys available in Marseille, however their intervals can be far apart, which means longer waits and fuller buses. I took 3 buses on my time in Marseille and they were all alike. The buses were very comfortable, air-conditioned and had fast journeys, I didn’t have any problem with them apart from the long waits and packed buses.

As Marseille is mainly a port city, it was just right that boat transport would be available. Between many of the different boat ports such as ‘Port Rouge’ were I scuba dived, and ‘Vieux Port’ there are now boat journeys. I didn’t try them so I cant really write about it.

Transport in Marseille is very easy and straight forward, so even the most amateur of travellers shouldn’t get lost.

Click for Marseille Gallery

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Could this be my most interesting trip yet?

Could this be my most interesting trip yet?

It might just be up there.

Ok so I’m going away for 1 week to 2 different countries, 5 Cities while I’m out there, about 8 long distance train rides and 4 different hotels, a few activities such as scuba diving and cycling however inevitably my main purpose for this trip, the world famous ‘SAN FERMIN FESTIVAL’.

Yep so it definitely looks like a jam packed 7 days, so I’m not classing as a holiday to relax and recharge. I usually go on short holidays to a single country and a single city at a time, however this time I’ve opted for something more.

I start my journey on Sunday 9th of January 2017, taking a flight from LHR (London Heathrow) to MRS (Marseille) where I will be based for 4 days. Within that 4 days I will be doing a cycling tour around Calanques, Scuba Diving and a visit to Montpellier.

Then using the trains make my way to Spain, Pamplona via Barcelona for the San Fermin festival. Now I don’t have a clue what’s going to happen in Pamplona, but I do ‘plan’ to run the bulls, depending on how I feel after watching it the day before and local advice of course. So whatever happens it’ll be interesting.

After Pamplona I head to Zaragoza where I will stay for 2 days,  I plan to visit Huesca and their Canyons (as I love Canyoning) but it all depends on my mood as I may be too tired or out of money at this point. I’ll try use Zaragoza as a bit of a charging point and relax before I head home. On my last day I leave Zaragoza in the morning and head to Barcelona for a little bit of shopping then head to the airport and fly home in the evening.

So standby and keep tuned to my blog page (sunandthreestars.blog) for the updates of this trip.

Paris

Type : City Break
Best Date : April – June (Spring)
Expense :  Medium
Things to do : Shopping, Sightseeing
Points of Interest: Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triumph, Louvre, Notre Dam, Champs Elysees, Disney Land, Stade de Frances, Moulin Rouge

Brief

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France. It is one of Europe’s major and popular cities and is known to be the most romantic city in the world. Given the name by the founding people called the Parisii in the 3rd century “Paris” has grown to be one of Europe’s best city destination.

The Place

I have fond memories of Paris due to the fact that from all the places I have visited from rich and poor places, it is the only place I have managed to get robbed, in a crowded Mcdonald’s near the Arc de Triumph, police however were not that helpful, fulfilling the reputation that the French has of being unfriendly, but don’t let that deter you from going it is still a fabulous place to go. Paris again is a quick city break away from London, its cheaper for my travels and hotels aren’t too expensive, that’s why I come back again and again, for a quick chill out.

First of all Paris has a rich culture and the people are full of patriotism and pride with everything they do. Food and restaurants are particularly impressive, there are patisseries and cafes everywhere and they are all with a good standards.

The Eiffel Tower is known to be the main landmark of Paris, it is the iconic figure always shown in magazines, poster, books and television. The structure is amazing from far or from below the tower itself, if you want to go to the top, it offers some great views but a ticket is required, you can go up to the top floor or the 2nd floor, obviously top floor will be more expensive. There are huge crowds around the Eiffel Tower, but with crowds comes lots of thieves, unlicensed vendors and beggars which get very annoying as a tourist, however military and armed guards are always present around the vicinity so safety and security is at a sufficient level.

Another popular location for tourists is the Notre Dam of Paris, situated in a fabulous area next to a river this gothic medieval catholic church is 20160302_125540.jpganother highly rate place to visit whilst in Paris. Notre Dam Paris meaning our lady of Paris is also known for the fictional character ‘the hunchback of Notre Dam’.

The Arc de Triumph is known to be the most monumental of all around the world. It is visited by tourism for its beautiful detail which has been changed numerous times  due to political changes and struggles. The Arc itself centres a huge round about and the only way to reach the Arc is by going underground as there is no crossing, a ticket is also required if you would like to enter the Arc. The Champs Elysées which runs from ‘Charles de Gaulle’ where the Arc de Triumph is located to the ‘Place de la Concorde’ which is on of the largest squares in Paris. The Champs Elyséesis a huge shopping district for both locals and tourists, various restaurants, cafes, theatres also surround this area.

Transport

Getting There

Obviously air carriers are the most popular mode of transportation to get to Paris. However Paris like London, Tokyo and other huge cities, has two main airports Charles De Gaulle International Airport and Paris Orly Airport. Charles De Gaulle is often the more popular destination as it is closer and has more transport links to central Paris than Orly. Various carriers travel to Paris from London, with the likes of British Airways and Air France being the obvious popular  two. It only takes a maximum of 30-45 minutes should there be no delays.

Another popular way to get to Paris from London is the Eurostar, a high speed train that travels from central London (St pancreas) to central Paris (Gare Du Nord). It is a non stop 3 hour journey and has 14 journeys a day with economy costing in the region of £150 and business class costing £250 one way.

As Britain is just above France, holiday makers from Britain often drive to France through the Euro tunnel. If you don’t have a vehicle but want to travel on road, various coach services are also available. The National Express takes passengers from London Victoria to either Paris CDG or Galleini. The cost could be as cheap as £20 to £30 one way, very cheap but the downside is that it will take 7-9 hours.

In Paris

Paris use similar modes of transport as of London, the Metro or RER Réseau Express Régionale (Regional Express Network) are Paris’s equivalent of the London Underground and are very similar by approach. A one day travel card can be purchased from the many machines in nearly all the stations.  There are also busses and taxis however I mostly just used their Metro or RER as like in London many points of interests are not far from stations.