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Travel to Marseille

Flying to Marseille

Airlines offering direct flights to Marseille Provence Airport  from the UK include British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair. Being a major European city, Marseille is very much a year-round destination, with cheap flights easy to find, although popularity peaks over the summer months and holiday periods such as Christmas and Easter. If flying from the USA, the quickest route is via Paris Charles de Gaulle, from where it's a short hop to Marseille by connecting flight.

Flight times

From London - 2 hours; New York - 10 hours (including stopover); Los Angeles - 13 hours 30 minutes (including stopover); Toronto - 10 hours 30 minutes (including stopover); Sydney  - 27 hours (including stopover).

Travel by road

Traffic drives on the right and the minimum legal driving age is 18. Speed limits are 50kph (31mph) in urban areas, 90kph (56mph) on main roads and 130kph (81mph) on motorways.

A national driving licence, the car's registration document, a high-visibility fluorescent vest and a red warning triangle must be carried at all times. EU nationals taking their own cars to France are advised to obtain a Green Card, without which insurance cover is limited to the minimum legal cover in France. The Green Card tops this up to the level of cover provided by the car owner's domestic policy.

Vinci Autoroutes (tel: 3605, in France only; www.vinci-autoroutes.com) is responsible for the motorway network in southern France and produces free maps with information in English.

Emergency telephones linked up to the police are located every 2km (1.2 miles) on each side of the motorway.

Emergency breakdown services

Garage du Pharo (tel: +33 4 9505 3131). On motorways, dial 112 for emergency assistance.

Routes

Three motorways connecting Spain, Italy and Northern Europe come together at Marseille: the A7 goes to the north (for Aix and Lyon), the A55 to the west (for Fos, Martigues, Montpellier and Barcelona) and the A50 to the east (for Cassis, Toulon, Nice and Genoa). The Prado Carénage Tunnel (toll road) connects the north coastline motorway (A55) to the east motorway (A50) (toll).

Coaches

The coach station in Marseille, place Victor Hugo 3e, is located right by the railway station. Coaches and buses depart from here for destinations in Provence and further afield.

Eurolines (tel: 0892 899 091, in France or +33 1 4186 2421; www.eurolines.fr) provides links throughout France and Europe.

Time to city

From Avignon - 1 hour; Barcelona - 5 hours; Paris - 7 hours.

Travel by Rail

Services

Marseille is well connected to the rest of the country by France's high-speed TGV network. You must validate train tickets prior to boarding – look for the waist-high ‘compostage de billets’ machines at platform entrances.

The railway station in Marseille, Gare de Marseille-Saint-Charles, is the hub for regional and national rail travel.

Operators

SNCF (tel: 3635, in France only or +33 892 353 535; www.sncf.com) is France's national rail operator. Direct TGV services link Marseille with Paris, Lyon, Lille and Nice.

Eurostar (tel: +44 1233 617 57, in the UK; www.eurostar.com) runs a direct service from London St Pancras station to Marseille.

Journey times

From London - 6 hours 30 minutes; Paris - 3 hours 20 minutes; Lille - 5 hours 30 minutes; Lyon - 1 hour 40 minutes; Nice - 2 hours 35 minutes.

Travel by boat

There is a large ferry port in Marseille at Port Autonome, 23 place de la Joliette (tel: +33 4 9139 4000; www.marseille-port.fr), which claims to handle 100 million tons of annual traffic. For yachters, there are 13 harbours in the Marseille area, with a combined total of more than 6,500 berths.

Ferry operators

SNCM (tel: 3260, in France only or +33 825 888 088; www.sncm.fr) operates ferry services from Marseille to Corsica, Tunisia and Algeria.

Transfer

The port is located a couple of kilometres north of the city centre, making it straightforward to access by taxi, public transport or even (if you’re pushed) by foot.

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Featured Hotels

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Hotel Lutetia

Conveniently located in a quiet street close to La Canebière, only 200m (656ft) from the railway station, this is a charming, comfortable hotel in the heart of Marseille, with easy metro access. Many of the rooms are more stylish than you would expect from a budget hotel.

Hipark Residences

With a choice of 114 smart apartments available for short, medium-term and longer stays, the Hipark Residences are a good alternative to the usual city-hotel options. They're in the southeast of Marseille and place an emphasis on spacious, modern design. Given the levels of comfort, they're good value.

Sofitel Marseille Vieux Port

Between the rocky headland of the Pharo and Fort St Nicolas, the indulgent Sofitel Marseille Vieux Port offers a near-unbeatable panoramic view of Marseille. The hotel has a swimming pool, eight meeting rooms (the largest of which can accommodate up to 130 people), a cocktail bar, a gastronomic restaurant and a spa.

InterContinental Marseille Hotel Dieu

Sitting imperiously over the Vieux Port from its perch near Le Panier, this 18th-century former Hotel Dieu is one of Marseille's most luxurious hotels. Most of the sleek, comfortable rooms have views of the Vieux Port, and many have balconies. There's also a renowned restaurant and a Clarins spa with an indoor pool.

Hotel Pullman Marseille Palm Beach

Located by the sea between the Vieux Port and the Convention Centre, the Hotel Pullman Marseille Palm Beach offers a unique view of the Prado Bay. It has stylish, contemporary rooms and suites, all with sea views. There's also a swimming pool, sauna, hot tub, jogging course and landing stage.

Le Petit Nice Passédat

This exquisite 19th-century villa in Hellenic style is set in lush gardens on a rocky promontory overlooking the Mediterranean. There is no denying that it's pricey, but the rooms are exceedingly comfortable and beautifully decorated, the service top notch, and the restaurant one of the best in town. The views are fabulous too.