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Christmas in Southern Provence Escorted Tour by Rail

All tours on this holiday have now departed. Future departure dates will be confirmed in due course.

  • Historic and characterful seaside towns and cities

  • Based in the charming regional capital, Aix-en-Provence

  • Mediterranean sunshine (hopefully!)

  • Delightful city of Arles with its impressive Roman sights

  • Atmospheric Les Baux-de-Provence

Escape to the south of France this Christmas to follow in the footsteps of artists, writers and royalty through the dramatic hill towns, chic cities, glamorous resorts and fantastic scenery of southern Provence. Based in the delightful provincial capital, Aix, enjoy the region’s rich artistic heritage with an easy going touring itinerary that includes Marseille, Arles, Les Baux, Bandol, Cassis and the spectacular Calanques.

ITINERARY

Day 1: Travel by Eurostar from St Pancras or Ebbsfleet to Lille and onwards to Aix by TGV. On arrival transfer by coach to check in to the superb, four-star Aquabella Hotel in the heart of town. Dinner this evening will be at the hotel.

Day 2: Full day in Aix-en-Provence.
A guided walking tour will show you the highlights of the elegant city of Aix-en-Provence. The regional capital is immediately attractive with its medieval centre a knot of grand architecture and atmospheric lanes, peppered with fountained squares. Home to artist Paul Cézanne, you will find his studio preserved exactly as he left it on his death in 1906. There are many lovely cafes to sit in and watch the world go by along the Cours Mirabeau.


Day 3: 
Full day tour to Arles and Les Baux-de-Provence.
Arles is best known for its fine Roman arena, baths and theatre – there are lovely views over the town from the arena’s top tier. It was also the sometime home of artists Van Gogh and Gauguin. The ancient, ruined citadel of Les Baux clings to a high ridge of the Alpilles range, a stark contrast to its bustling, Renaissance other half situated just below.


Day 4:
 Morning tour to Cassis and the Calanques, with Christmas Eve dinner at a local restaurant.
Cassis has managed to retain its small fishing village charms and has remained largely unaltered since it attracted painters such as Signac and Derain in the early 20th century. Along the coastline between Marseille and Cassis, the turquoise sea has pummelled the limestone cliffs into a series of deep, dramatic inlets – the Calanques. The best way to view this beautiful area is from the sea, and so there is a boat trip included, starting in Cassis.


Day 5: Free day to relax and enjoy Aix at your leisure, with Christmas Day festive lunch at a local restaurant.

Day 6: Full day tour to Toulon and Hyères.
Toulon is France’s second-largest naval port thanks to its fine natural harbour. The daily produce market on Cours Lafayette is lovely for a browse and the Quai Cronstadt is a great place to watch the world go by. The oldest resort on the French Riviera, the town of Hyères is gathered around the Castle of Saint Bernard which sits on a hilltop four kilometres from the sea. The palm-tree-and-Belle-Époquebuilding lined streets once hosted luminaires such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Edith Wharton and Queen Victoria.


Day 7: Full day tour to Marseille.
The cosmopolitan city of Marseille has gone through a renaissance in recent years to the point that it was European City of Culture in 2013. The best way to enjoy the city is to wander along streets of terracotta roofed houses and enjoy the vibrant fusion of cultures. Sights here include the renowned fish market, the old harbour, Chateau d’If, setting for Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, 11th century Abbey of St Victor, Cathédrale de la Major and several excellent museums including the Musée des Beaux Arts and Archaeology Museum.


Day 8: Transfer to the station to travel by TGV from Aix to Lille and onwards by Eurostar to Ebbsfleet or St Pancras.

NB: Exact order of excursions may vary according to local conditions and tour manager's discretion

Please note the maximum group size on this tour is 49 passengers.

INCLUDED

  • Return Eurostar and TGV trains from London St Pancras or Ebbsfleet to Aix-en-Provence via Lille
  • Seven nights' accommodation on bed and breakfast basis at the four-star Aquabella Hotel in Aix, based on shared occupancy of twin room
  • First night dinner at the hotel
  • Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day festive lunch at a local restaurant
  • Transfers and full touring itinerary conducted by tour manager 
  • Tour manager throughout 

NOT INCLUDED

  • Single room supplement
  • Room upgrade to a privilege room (supplement applies)  
  • Holiday insurance
  • 1st class upgrade on Eurostar/TGV. On the Eurostar this constitutes upgraded seating and light meal with complimentary drink with upgraded seating only on French railway leg.
  • Meals other than those stated
  • Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls.
  • Porterage and gratuities.

PLEASE NOTE: As with most trains, passengers are responsible for carrying baggage onto and off the train. Baggage can be stored on overhead shelves or at the entrance to the carriages.Trollies are available at St Pancras, but bags do need to be carried on to the platform.

Travel Editions recommends a luggage delivery service called thebaggageman, where your suitcase can be picked up from your home before departure and delivered straight to your hotel; therefore removing the worry about carrying your cases onto and off the trains. Please click here for more information and we have arranged a 10% discount exclusive to Travel Editions clients off the thebaggageman service. Tel: 01844 264890.

HOTELS

Aquabella Hotel, Aix-en-Provence
The Aquabella Hotel is an impressive, modern four-star spa hotel, located in the centre of town within walking distance of most of the main sights. Superb spa facilities combine with an extensive fitness centre to offer guests a range of fantastic facilities for their leisure. The hotel bar provides a relaxed environment to enjoy a cocktail after a long day. Rooms are comfortable and contemporary with private bath/shower, air-conditioning, TV, telephone, minibar and hairdryer.

Aquabella Hotel Website

OUR VIEW ON THE HOTEL
The Aquabella is a terrific choice for a Christmas break with excellent facilities and a superb location in the heart of the lovely city of Aix. A worthy addition to our roster of Christmas hotels and superb value for money given the very high quality of accommodation, cuisine and facilities.


Pre-tour accommodation is available at the Premier Travel Inn, London King's Cross St Pancras, about a 5 minutes walk from St Pancras International, at an approximate rate of £120 per room. Bookings can be made direct with the hotel on 0871 527 8672 or visit their website

We love to receive feedback from our customers. Their views help us to keep improving the ours we offer. If you have been on this tour and would like to submit a review, please log in to our client area here and fill in the short form.

Recent Reviews

 

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We have received compensation from Eurostar for the train delay to Paris. This was not the fault of Travel Editions, and I am sure we will travel with you again. Robert Goodsman

Review by Goodsman who travelled 21-December-2018


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Overall the tour was ver good, led by serge Bertini, who was excellent. Hr rvrm acted as interpreter on the boat trip to view Les Calamques as the skipper did the commentary in Frence! The full day tour to Toulon and Hyères was slightly disappointing. We had a boat tour of the harbour at Toulon which was interesting, just time for a coffeem before boarding the coach to Hyères. There we had a late lunvh, which didnot leave much time to see the sightsof the old town. Perhaps ann earlter start to the day or later departure from Hyères? Christmas Day Lunch. It would be better to have a dinner rather than lunch. There was not much to do in the morning but the market stalls in the centre of Aix were open while we were having lunch! A big thank you for giving details of how to claim a refund from Eurostar. Once I had had downloaded Googlr Chrome and found the right webpage. This seems to have gone through. I realise the delay was completely outside Travel Editions' control, asdespite the late departure from London, there would have been plenty if time to make the transfer to Gare de Lyon. Please do allow at least three hours for this transfer between Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon, at least that gubves everyone a chance of a meal! Imcidentally this is our third missed outward depaarture from Paris - two journeys perched on bar stools and one a a very much later train which did have proper seats! We hope you do not consider us to be jinxes and will allow us to travel with you at Chrisnnas in the future. Chris & Mavis McCarthy

Review by McCarthy who travelled 21-December-2018


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Thoroughly enjoyable way to spend the Christmas period. Aix en Provence was charming and the hotel was very comfortable and well situated. The half day walking tour of Aix was informative and gave lots of ideas for later personal exploration. Tours to other places in the area were varied and gave time to look around at ones own pace. Meals, both at the hotel and local restaurant, were excellent. Our tour guide Serge was informative, efficient, helpful and amusing. And with the bonus of warm sunny weather this was a very enjoyable tour.

Review by Feely who travelled 21-December-2018


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We very much enjoyed our visit to Provence. Serge, the tour manager was excellent , visits were interesting and varied and the accommodation was good. The only weakness was on the part of Eurostar. No doubt you are aware, either from Serge or from other passengers, that the train was held up for a long time before the tunnel, resulting in most of us missing the connection to the TGV at Gare de Lyon. This resulted in very few of us, maybe only four or five, having a seat from Paris to Aix. Some stood, some sat on stairs or the floor, some shared seats, others sat on buffet bar stools or low luggage racks. We have no complaint with Travel Editions for this, but feel that Eurostar should be aware of how it affected our group. I’m happy to offer more detail if you want it. Please don’t think that this is in any way a complaint against Travel Editions, with whom we hope to travel again in the future.

Review by Biggs who travelled 21-December-2018


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Review by Anonymous who travelled 21-December-2018


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Review by Anonymous who travelled 21-December-2018


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Travel was only poor because of Eurostar delay on outward journey, otherwise the travel arrangements were good.

Review by Anonymous who travelled 21-December-2018


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Problem only with Euro star who I feel should compensate us. On way out the train broken down in Kent and told we may have to return to London. We did eventually get to Paris one & a half hours late which meant a dash across to Garde de Lyon by coach such that some of the group missed the connection to Aix. The next train was one hour later and although they took the stranded passengers they couldn't provide everyone with seats. A bad start to an otherwise v.good holiday.

Review by Crossan who travelled 21-December-2018


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Review by Anonymous who travelled 21-December-2018


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Great hotel & staff. Dinner cold on 1st night, but otherwise food excellent. Christmas Eve a little disappointing. Only a brief morning tour and then a great rush to get back to Aix early (Why?) meant in sufficient time for lunch. Serge is a very knowledgeable Tour Manager and dealt with James' unfortunate loss of wallet extremely well. We hop to spend Christmas in Annecy this year

Review by Wilkinson who travelled 21-December-2017


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Serge was excellent, possibly the best we have had. We thought the Aquabella was good but the two dinners and especially the lunch was not of the same standard, perhaps a restaurant, or another hotel would be better for the meals.

Review by Hewitt who travelled 21-December-2017


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Review by Darby who travelled 21-December-2017


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Review by who travelled 21-December-2017


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Review by who travelled 21-December-2017


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Another great Travel Editions Christmas trip (Our fifth) helped by an excellent Tour Manager, Serge who was well organised, always on the ball and helpful. Trips great except perhaps with Toulon visit which was a bit far and not as interesting as the other places. Hotel excellent and well located.

Review by Izod who travelled 21-December-2017


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Review by Mrs Kathryn Morfey who travelled 21-December-2016


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Enjoyable tour. Could Gordes be included in the programme?

Review by Mrs Marousso Bouras who travelled 21-December-2016


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Review by Mrs Penny Ruzicka who travelled 21-December-2016


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We were a bit concerned about the large group size but were able to do our own thing much of the time. The tour manager Serge Bertini could not have been more informative and caring with some difficult and mostly elderly participants. The hotel was comfortable and better than adequate (except for the bizarre Christmas Eve meal!) and benefited from being close to the old town. The breakfast buffet was very good compared with many French hotels. All the tours were good but we would have liked longer in Toulon (to have lunch); Hyeres to spend enough time at the Villa Noailles as it was a long walk up to the top of the old town; and Bandol. We would have been happy to return to Aix a little later after each tour. Our driver, Remy, was excellent in all respects. The trip was an ideal one to get away at Christmas. Thank you.

Review by Mrs Rosemary Richards who travelled 22-December-2015


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Can't praise Serge enough. Hotel was very good apart from the Christmas Eve meal which was bland in the extreme with very disorganised and lengthy service. Also staff seemed stretched. Room and breakfast were excellent.

Review by Mrs Penelope Weaire who travelled 22-December-2015


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A thoroughly enjoyable holiday with an excellent itinerary. Our room was fine though my sister was disappointed with hers. The breakfast was good. Other meals in the hotel were fine, though nothing special. If pushed we would say we were disappointed with the food as we were in France, after all, but as I say, it was fine for us. Serge looked after us well, including arranging a couple of boat trips. We should have liked a bit more time in Bandol - half an hour is not enough, even allowing for the town itself not being brilliant. Our hopes of a pleasant but low key Christmas were well met. Thank you.

Review by Mr David Stirling who travelled 22-December-2015


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The tour manager, Serge, was excellent and very helpful to everyone in the party. The Christmas Eve dinner was rather disappointing. Our bedroom was warm so we had to open the windows despite the noise from outside during the night. Overall, a very good tour and we enjoyed our holiday.

Review by Mr Steve Michener who travelled 22-December-2015


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The hotel room was very good indeed but the meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were disappointing. Serge Bertini, the tour manager could not have been more kind, helpful and informative.

Review by Miss Jean Jones who travelled 22-December-2015


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