The Nice to Aix-en-Provence bus allows you to easily spend a day in Provence, and is a bargain compared to the train.
Cost: The 29.40€ one-way, 58.80€ round-trip fare may seem high after the 1.50€ city buses, but it is still a lot less than taking the train, which is 81€ round-trip, especially when you factor in that you don’t have to change trains in the zooey Marseilles train station. For two people, the cost is similar to renting a car with tolls and gas, but the bus gives you a more relaxed day and you don’t have to hassle with parking or inevitably getting lost on your way out of Aix.
Discounts: If several of you are travelling, it could be worthwhile to pick up a Carte Zou 50/75 (available at the Zou office at the train station) which costs 15/30€ per year (depending on if you are under or over 26) and gives you 50% off for you and three people travelling with you. Children from 4-12 are half-price anyway, and under 4 are free.
Luggage: Note that the Aix bus charges for suitcases… between 5-11€ depending on the size.
Schedule: Here is the 2017/2018 Nice-Aix schedule in PDF.
Reserving and Buying your Ticket: You can reserve a seat online here up to 6pm the night before, or reserve and pay at the LER ticket office, which you’ll find at the Vauban bus station. Just take the tramway (direction Hopital Pasteur) a few stops past Garibaldi, to the Vauban tram stop, then walk around the parking lot and go under the archway to the bus station and you’ll see the LER ticket office (and this is also where you catch the bus). Reserving just a couple of days in advance is usually fine, and you can also just show up and buy your ticket from the driver as you board, but you are taking a little risk that way…
Where to catch it: Especially if you have luggage, the easiest place to catch is to take the tramway 5 minutes to the Vaubaun stop, and then walk around the small parking lot and go under the arch to find the bus station. Otherwise, it stops at Ave Verdun/Albert 1ere stop just off near the end of the Promenade de Paillon gardens, near the Hotel Meridien, as well as several stops along the Promenade des Anglais, and the airport.
Schedule: Click here for the schedule for Bus #20 Aix Marseille
Route: The trip to Provence is inland on the freeway, with views of mountains and vineyards. But if you are really looking for scenery, spend the extra for the train, which has an hour of stunning seaside views before passing through the vineyards.
Timing: The buses leave at 6:25am, 7:50am and 10am and noon, and takes around 3 hours. If you get up at the crack-o-dawn for the early bus, you can sleep on the ride and get there at 9am for coffee, or leave at the more civilized 7:50am and get there at 11am. In both cases you are there early enough to explore the fabulous open-air morning markets before lunch. Or leave at 10am, skip the markets, and get there just in time for lunch. (Note: on Sundays, your only option is the 8am.) The Aix bus stop is just 2 blocks from the main roundabout with it’s fabulous fountain (pictured above), the tourist office, and the start of the tree-lined rue Mirabeau.
Getting back: After doing the markets, a long Provencal lunch, exploring the village, and a visit to the excellent Cezanne Museum, catch the bus back at 6pm and be back in Nice by 8:30ish.
Another way to get to Aix
A new interesting alternative to the bus or train is to carpool with Bla Bla Car, a ride-share service which is kind of like Airbnb on wheels. For the 2 1/2 hour ride from Nice to Aix-en-Provence you could expect to pay 10€ for a seat, as opposed to 30€ for the bus or 40€ for the train, and you don’t even have to pay tolls!
- Back up to Main Bus Page: Everything you need to know about taking the Bus in Nice
Photo Credit: Aix-en-Provence Fountain by Maksim, licensed under Creative Commons