Aix-en-Provence is easily reached by train, with the fastest services from Paris taking just three hours for the 731-km journey to Aix. ‘Pure Provence’ – at least that’s what the brochures claim of Aix, and with some justification for this modestly sized city nicely conforms to most stereotypes about Provence.
Aix is impossibly beautiful and during the university term the student population give a lively edge to local life. It is a city for poets, philosophers and artists. The land rises up east of Aix-en-Provence to Montagne-Sainte-Victoire, the rocky limestone massif which so inspired the artist Paul Cézanne. Make time for Aix, relax under the plane trees on the Cours Mirabeau and enjoy the unmistakable scents and sounds of Provence.
There are two railway stations in Aix. The city-centre station, simply called Aix-en-Provence, is a handsome building a short walk south of the city centre close to the cité universitaire. It is served by regular local trains to Marseille-St-Charles. There are also direct services to Gap and Briançon in the French Alps.
The city’s second railway station is called Aix-en-Provence TGV, a soulless, modern structure with acres of car parking about 17 km south-west of Aix. If you travel by high-speed train, this is where you’ll arrive. A half-hourly bus service links the TGV station with the centre of Aix-en-Provence. The TGV station at Aix enjoys a fine range of services with frequent trains to Paris and even direct international services to Baden-Baden, Barcelona, Brussels, Frankfurt am Main, Geneva and Madrid.
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