The former capital of Provence, Aix-en-Provence, is in the Bouches-du-Rhone department of France and one of the country’s most charming old cities. If you find the name a bit of a mouthful, you can do as the locals do and call it simply "Aix," prounounced like "ex." A major municipality in Provence, Aix was originally a Roman city and is best-known for its old quarter, its cultural life, and its links to Paul Cezanne, the most famous Aixois painter.
When traveling from Paris to Aix, flying is the option that makes the most sense if you don't have a lot of time, especially since it can cost about the same as the train. The bus is the most affordable, but it's a long ride and you'll likely have to travel overnight. However, if sleeping on a bus is not a problem for you, it's extremely cost effective because you will also be saving money on accommodation. If you prefer to drive yourself, it's a long way on the open road from Paris to Aix, but the route passes through many different French regions and there's a lot to see along the way.
How to Get from Paris to Aix-en-Provence
- Train: 3 hours, 10 minutes, €50+
- Flight: 1 hour, 15 minutes, €55+
- Bus: 10 hours, 40 minutes, €14+
- Car: 7 hours, 24 minutes, 472 miles (759 kilometers)
High-speed trains in France are called trains a grand vitesse, or TGV. On the fastest train, you can arrive in Aix-en-Provence from Paris in just three hours and change. The TGV Méditerranée trains to Aix leave from Paris Gare de Lyon throughout the day. If you are flying into Paris, it's also possible to take a TGV train from Charles de Gaulle Airport. It does take a little bit longer and fares tend to be more expensive, though not by much.
When booking your ticket, pay attention to the total travel time and the number of connections. Some itineraries may begin with a TGV train from Paris, but then require you to get off and transfer to a regular train in a connecting city like Nimes or Valence. Each connection could add up to an hour onto your total journey time.
When booking, you may have the option to buy a first class ticket, which are about €4 to €15 more expensive than second class. Unlike air travel, there's not a huge difference between the two classes, except for that first class seats are a little bit roomier and usually quieter.
Aix-en-Provence shares an airport with Marseille, being only 13 miles (21 kilometers) from the Marseille-Provence Airport, which is a major international hub. From the airport, it only takes 45 minutes to reach Aix by cab or shuttle.
Air France is the only carrier that operates non-stop flights between Paris and Marseille. Service is frequent with flights running from morning to night and one way tickets can be found for as little as €50 to as high as €362, depending on the day you travel and how far ahead you book.
Although it's much faster to fly or travel by train, the bus is a good choice for the extreme budget traveler with a lot of time on their hands. Bus companies like FlixBus and BlaBlaBus offer multiple tickets a day from Paris to Aix-en-Provence. Depending on your ticket, the ride can take between 11 and 14 hours. Don't worry, there will be rest stops along the way.
Night busses are a popular option on this route because the tickets are cheaper and you don't have to pay for a hotel, but they're not the only option. BlaBlaBus offers a bus that leaves from Paris at 9 a.m. and arrives in Aix at 8 p.m.
The distance from Paris to Aix-en-Provence is around 472 miles (759 kilometers), and the journey takes around 7 hours and 30 minutes depending on your speed. There are tolls on the main highway, but you will drive through the beautiful Vaucluse department of Provence on your way there. Provence is one of France's most beautiful regions and it's a pleasure to drive through the countryside, though beware of traffic on the highways around the major cities.
Since you are covering a large portion of France, you may wish to make some stops along the way. Following the A7 Highway, you might choose to stop and visit the cities of Lyon or Valence. You'll also be driving through the wine region of Burgundy, which is a great place to stop and spend the night in a classic French wine chateau.
For information on hiring a car under the lease-back scheme which is the most economical way of hiring a car if you’re in France for more than 17 days, try Renault Eurodrive Buy Back Lease. If you're driving, make sure you're familiar with the rules of driving in France.
What to See in Aix-en-Provence
Often lauded as one of the most beautiful towns in France, Aix is a charming city with Roman roots and an important place in art history. As the birthplace of the impressionist painter Paul Cezanne, who is best known for a body of work that bridges the gap between impressionism and cubism, many art-loving travelers come to see the town depicted in his paintings. The tourism office offers a free walking tour and sites like Cezanne's Workshop and the Jas de Bouffan House, where he lived, are some of the most popular in town.
Other attractions in town include the Aix Cathedral, the Roman Ruins with a working spa, and the Archbishop's Palace, where you'll also find the Tapestry Museum. Aix is also well-known for its outdoor markets, three of which you should have plenty of opportunity to experience.
The grocery market is open daily on Place Richelme, where you'll find fruits, vegetables, cheese, and more. The flower market is perhaps the most famous for its wide array of colors and opens only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays in Place de l’Hotel de Ville. On Place des Precheurs and Place de Verdun, the "big" market also takes place on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays and here, you'll find many shops selling antiques, furniture, fabrics, books, and more.