Itinerary by train

In the Heart of Provence


Marseille, Arles and Avignon… Three Provencal cities with thousand-year-old histories, three Provencal gems to explore freely, wandering along the little streets and by the sea shore, discovering Roman monuments and the Palais des Papes. Travel by train into the heart of Provence.

ItineraryDuration1 day or more

Visited Places

Stop 1Marseille

When you arrive at the station in Marseille, it’s an immediate immersion in the Mediterranean city: from the esplanade of the Gare Saint-Charles, the view over the city and, in the distance, the  Cathedral of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde (“La Bonne Mère”), is simply amazing. After a contemplative break, walk down the famous Canebière towards the Vieux-Port to get to the cradle of Marseille: the Quartier du Panier, founded by the Greeks in 600 B.C.  There’s no programme here: just wander around the little streets and squares with a glance at the hundreds of street-art paintings dotted along your way. Then, on to Corniche Kennedy, which is like a balcony suspended over the sea linking the Plage des Catalans and Plage du Prado beaches. Out to sea, the Frioul islands stand out against the blue of the sky. On the Vieux-Port, take the shuttle to the islands for a hike or a picnic.

Stop 2Arles

We’ve left the coast to travel deeper into the lands of Provence. After having travelled alongside the Etang de Berre, the train now goes across the plains between the Camargue and It takes about an hour to get to Arles. The thousand-year-old town embodies a successful blend of history and modernity. Start with an immersion into the Roman past of Arles, by visiting the monuments listed in the UNESCO World Heritage: the amphitheatre, the arenas, the cryptoporticus and the Baths of  Constantine. Fast forward in time: for Van Gogh, Arles was a never-ending source of inspiration. The Fondation Van Gogh or Musée Estrine bear witness to this. Your tour of Arles ends in a futurist decor at the Fondation Luma, with its big steel tower designed by the architect Franck Gehry.

Stop 3Avignon

A quarter of an hour later, the train stops at Avignon station. Change of scenery: Roman monuments make way for the majestic Palais des Papes, the symbol of the city. After having gone through the ramparts, right opposite the station, and after a quarter of an hour’s walk you come to the imposing palace, the 14th-century seat of Christianity in the West. Now, walk on the Pont Saint-Bénézet bridge – the well-known “Pont d’Avignon” in the song – and the garden of the Rocher des Doms, an English-style garden with a panoramic view over the old town and as far as Mont-Ventoux.

Train Stations

Consult the timetable of the 8 Marseille – Avignon via Arles