Aix En Provence & Marseilles
Duration: 8 hours
Tour Code: MRS-008
A lovely drive into the Provençal countryside brings you to the charming old town of Aix-en-Provence. Here, your walking tour begins on the grand Cours Mirabeau, a wide avenue built on the site of the city's medieval ramparts and shaded by leafy 200-year-old trees. The avenue is one of the city's most beautiful, so be sure to notice the elegant facades of its private mansions, especially their wrought-iron balconies and finely carved doorways. Explore the old Mazarin District, founded by Archbishop Michel Mazarin in 1646, and later home to many writers and artists such as Paul Cézanne. The district is also noted for its meticulously kept walled gardens. Discover beautiful St. Sauveur Cathedral with its many contrasting architectural styles, a legacy of countless additions and renovations performed between the 5th and 18th centuries. Most notable are the remnants of a Roman-era wall that were used in a later wall, and the 15th century Gothic portal.
Before leaving to Marseille you will have free time to discover a unique local restaurant.
Driving through the colorful Old Port, where the city's Greek founders landed in 600 B.C., you will be mesmerized by the classically French sidewalk cafés, thriving markets, and picturesque fishing boats bobbing in the harbor. Continuing along the coast, the landscape changes, and the views become dominated by the impressive cliffs of the Marseille massif and the scenic islands lying just offshore. Perched on La Garde Hill, high above the city, stands Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica, which upon visiting you'll learn was built on a site that has been a defensive observation post since prehistoric times. The architecture of the Romanesque-Byzantine style basilica boasts magnificent domes, multi-colored stone, and golden mosaics. After a drive through the shopping district, you will stop in the Palais Longchamp, a fantastic 19th-Century complex of stately museums, elegant fountains, and an expansive Zoological Garden. The entrance to Longchamp Park is guarded by four stone lions, and provides an unforgettable setting for a photo.
Please note: This tour consists of approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes of moderate walking over mostly flat or cobblestoned surfaces. Flash photography & video cameras are not permitted in the Cathedral. There are approximately 120 steps to reach the Basilica. Suitable attire is required to enter the cathedral.