The Nice-Aix en Provence bus allows you to easily spend a day in Provence, and whereas it is sadly not part of the ‘one euro’ network of city buses, it is still a bargain compared to the train.
Cost: The 30€ one-way/50€ round-trip ticket may seem high after the 1-euro city buses, but it is still a lot less than the train (36€ each way), 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.
Where to Catch it: The Bus #20-A Aix Marseille leaves from the Vauban tram stop but it makes several more convenient stops before leaving Nice, such as the Jardins Albert 1ere stop just off Place Massena on the back side of the garden, or several stops along the Promenade des Anglais.
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 6:30am, 8am and 10:30, and take around 3 hours. If you get up at the crack-o-dawn for the 6:30am, you can sleep on the bus and get there at 8:50 for coffee, or leave at 8am 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 at 12:15, just in time for lunch. (Note: on Sundays, your only option is the 8am.) The bus stop is just 2 blocks from the main roundabout with it’s fabulous fountain, 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 5:30pm and be back in Nice by 8:30pm.
Photo Credit: Aix-en-Provence Fountain by Maksim, licensed under Creative Commons
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