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Bordeaux to the Mediterranean

Hello all, we are traveling for about a week between San Sebastian Spain and ending in Paris--all by train. I was thinking of going to Bordeaux a couple of days and then Marseille at the end for a couple of days before taking the TGV to Paris. I know most do not like Marseille, but I am very curious. Any suggestions of how to fill 3 or 4 days between? I know the trains are not that efficient on those routes. We will be traveling the first week in May, so beaches are not a priority. We are very flexible so any alternatives are welcome.
Merci beaucoup!

Posted by
3009 posts

I'm curious about Marseilles too but we have not been there. There is a good article in the September 2013 Travel + Leisure Magazine titled Marseilles Makeover that makes me want to check it out!

For your extra 3-4 days, I'd look at a website like Rome2Rio to check out the train route and decide what cities might make sense based on your interests and the time you have available. We liked Toulouse but 3-4 days might be too much time there. You could consider Sarlat in the Dordogne region or Arles in Provence.

Posted by
9110 posts

Five great melting pot cities of the world: Beirut, Buenos Aires, Singapore, London, Marseille.

If you like stereotypes, don't go - - or go and just hang around the few blocks around the old port.

Posted by
3547 posts

Crossing the border from San Sebastian to Biarritz in southern Spain is awkward by rail. There is a local service which is only slightly bigger than a street car, depositing you near the SNCF station for your onward connections in France. A bus connects the two small cities but it stops in the centre of Biarritz while the train is on the outskirts.
While I have positive feelings about Marseille, it is well to the east of your other suggested destinations. Going from there to Paris up the Rhone Valley would allow stops in Arles, Avignon and Lyon, all worthwhile. The train up the west side of France could serve the wonderful city of Toulouse and two smaller places known for their beverages, Bordeaux and Cognac. Several famous distilleries in the centre of Cognac offer tours but one day would be long enough to get the flavour, so to speak.

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks for your suggestions. I will let you know what we end up doing. We are leaning toward Arles as a base.

Posted by
8 posts

We love Marseille! The food is amazing, everything from classic Provencal to spicy African is available. We especially enjoyed the open-air markets for picnic and breakfast supplies.

If you're going to be there for a couple days, I would highly recommend a day trip to Cassis. We grabbed a train out there, rented a small boat, and spent the day out in the calanques, anchoring now and then for a swim. It's really beautiful out there, and that day continues to be one of my very best memories.

Avignon is lovely, and although we only spent one day in Arles, we very much enjoyed nosing around the ruins.