Christmas in Southern Provence by Rail

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  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • What's Included
  • Dates
  • Travel Editions

You'll love this tour if you like: 

  • Spectacular coastal scenery
  • Characterful seaside towns
  • Excellent seafood restaurants
  • Relaxed coastal walks
  • Mediterranean sunshine

Escape to the south of France this Christmas to follow in the footsteps of artists, writers and royalty through the dramatic hill towns, chic cities, glamorous resorts and fantastic scenery of southern Provence. Based in the delightful provincial capital, Aix, enjoy the region’s rich artistic heritage with an easy going touring itinerary that includes Marseille, Arles, Les Baux, Bandol, Cassis and the spectacular Calanques.

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Aquabella Hotel, Aix-en-Provence
The Aquabella Hotel is an impressive, modern four-star spa hotel, located in the centre of town within walking distance of most of the main sights. L'Orangerie restaurant offers excellent cuisine, and it is here where you will enjoy your Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day lunch. Superb spa facilities combine with an extensive fitness centre to offer guests a range of fantastic facilities for their leisure. The hotel bar provides a relaxed environment to enjoy a cocktail after a long day. Rooms are comfortable and contemporary with private bath/shower, air-conditioning, TV, telephone, minibar and hairdryer.

Aquabella Hotel Website

The Aquabella is a terrific choice for a Christmas break with excellent facilities and a superb location in the heart of the lovely city of Aix. A worthy addition to our roster of Christmas hotels and superb value for money given the very high quality of accommodation, cuisine and facilities.

Pre-tour accommodation is available at the Premier Travel Inn, London King's Cross St Pancras, about a 5 minutes walk from St Pancras International, at an approximate rate of £120 per room. Bookings can be made direct with the hotel on 0871 527 8672 or visit their website

More Info

Valid passport required by all, except:

(a) EU nationals holding valid national identification cards;

(b) Holders of national identification cards issued to nationals of Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Switzerland.

Are not required by EU citizens. All other nationalities should enquire at the French consulate (PO Box 57, 6A Cromwell Place, London SW7 2EW

Tel: (020) 7838 2000/1. Information Service: Tel: (0891) 887 733. Fax: (020) 7838 2046. Opening hours: 0900-1130 (and 1600-1630 for visa collection only) Monday to Friday (except French and British national holidays).

As with most trains, passengers are responsible for carrying baggage onto and off the train. Baggage can be stored on overhead shelves or at the entrance to the carriages. Trollies are available at St Pancras and Lille, but bags do need to be carried on to the platform.  Porters are sometimes but not always available at St Pancras.  The Eurostar and French trains are very long (18 carriages in the case of Eurostar and nearly 400 metres long) so there can be quite lengthy walks from the station entrance to your seat.  On all legs of the journey you have reserved seat and carriage numbers which are shown clearly on your ticket. 

Travel Editions recommends a luggage delivery service called thebaggageman, where your suitcase can be picked up from your home before departure and delivered straight to your hotel; therefore removing the worry about carrying your cases onto and off the trains. Please click here for more information and we have arranged a 10% discount exclusive to Travel Editions clients off the thebaggageman service. Tel: 01844 264890

Please note that EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) only allows access to the same state-provided healthcare as a resident of the EU country they are temporarily visiting. It is NOT an alternative to travel insurance and will not provide the same level of cover as a travel insurance policy. The EHIC will not cover any private medical healthcare or the cost of things such as repatriation to the UK or lost or stolen property. It is also important to note that each country’s healthcare system is slightly different, so the EHIC might not cover everything that would be generally free on the NHS. On the EHIC application website,  there is a section called Access to Healthcare Abroad which clarifies all the conditions and inclusions. We strongly recommend that you take out an appropriate travel insurance policy when you travel abroad.

Places of Interest

Toulon & Hyères
Tucked into a fine natural harbour, Toulon is home to France’s Mediterranean fleet. Sights here include the opera house, Cathedrale Ste-Marie-de-la-Sedo and several interesting museums including the Musée des Arts Asiatique, Baroque Musée de la Marine and Hotel des Arts. The palm-tree-lined streets of Hyères make for a charming town, one of the oldest resorts in the south of France, attracting such luminaries as Queen Victoria, Robert Louis Stevenson and Edoth Wharton since its 18th century inception. Sights here include the 13th century church of St Louis, delightful old town and elegant Belle-Epoque buildings.

Bandol, Cassis & the Calanques
Bandol, a cheerful seaside resort with tree-lined promenade, casino and yacht harbour, is renowned for its superb red wines, produced here since 600 BC, often served cold. Cassis has remained much the same little fishing village that attracted artists such as Signac and Derain, and is a great place to relax at a waterside café. From Marseille to Cassis the coastline forms narrow inlets, the Calanques, a series of jagged white cliffs (some up to 400 metres high) reflected in the dazzling turquoise water.

A fascinating day to day as we explore France’s largest port and 2nd largest city, Marseilles, with a population of 800,000. It has close links to the Middle East and North Africa which lend it an exotic, cosmopolitan air. Sights here included the renowned fish market, the old harbour, Chateau d’If, setting for Dumas’ Counte of Monte Cristo, 11th century Abbey of St Victor, church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, Cathédrale de la Major and several excellent museums including the Musée des Beaux Arts and Archaeology Museum.

Aix-en-Provence is one of Provence’s most beautiful towns with a wealth of sights that reward detailed exploration. Highlights include the Cathedral of St Sauveur, noted for Froment’s “Triptych of the Burning Bush” and several museusm including the Archaeology and Tapestry Museums. There is a Cézanne trail, too, that takes you to significant locations in the artist’s life, such as the family estate, Jas de Bouffan, the quarries at Bibémus, and his studio at Les Lauves. Aix is a wonderful place to linger, too, at an outdoor café, particularly one of many along the elegant tree-lined Cours Mirabeau.

Click here for more information on Aix-en-Provence

  • Europe
  • Lille
  • Arles
  • Provence
  • France
  • Aix en Provence
Tour Types
  • Seniors
  • Rail
  • Festive and New Year
  • 50 plus
  • Rail Tours
  • Christmas Tours
Departure Points
  • St Pancras

Day 1: Travel by Eurostar from St Pancras or Ebbsfleet to Lille and onwards to Aix by TGV. On arrival transfer by coach to check in to the superb, four-star Aquabella Hotel in the heart of town. Dinner this evening will be at the hotel.

Day 2: Full day in Aix-en-Provence. A guided walking tour will show you the highlights of the elegant city of Aix-en-Provence. The regional capital is immediately attractive with its medieval centre a knot of grand architecture and atmospheric lanes, peppered with fountained squares. Home to artist Paul Cézanne, you will find his studio preserved exactly as he left it on his death in 1906. There are many lovely cafes to sit in and watch the world go by along the Cours Mirabeau.

Day 3: 
Full day tour to Arles and Les Baux-de-Provence. Arles is best known for its fine Roman arena, baths and theatre – there are lovely views over the town from the arena’s top tier. It was also the sometime home of artists Van Gogh and Gauguin. The ancient, ruined citadel of Les Baux clings to a high ridge of the Alpilles range, a stark contrast to its bustling, Renaissance other half situated just below.

Day 4:
 Morning tour to Cassis and the Calanques, with Christmas Eve dinner at the hotel. Cassis has managed to retain its small fishing village charms and has remained largely unaltered since it attracted painters such as Signac and Derain in the early 20th century. Along the coastline between Marseille and Cassis, the turquoise sea has pummelled the limestone cliffs into a series of deep, dramatic inlets – the Calanques. The best way to view this beautiful area is from the sea, and so there is a boat trip included, starting in Cassis.

Day 5: Free day to relax and enjoy Aix at your leisure, with Christmas Day festive lunch at the hotel.

Day 6: Full day tour to Marseille. The cosmopolitan city of Marseille has gone through a renaissance in recent years to the point that it was European City of Culture in 2013. The best way to enjoy the city is to wander along streets of terracotta roofed houses and enjoy the vibrant fusion of cultures. Sights here include the renowned fish market, the old harbour, Chateau d’If, setting for Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, 11th century Abbey of St Victor, Cathédrale de la Major and several excellent museums including the Musée des Beaux Arts and Archaeology Museum.

Day 7: Full day tour to Toulon and Hyères. Toulon is France’s second-largest naval port thanks to its fine natural harbour. The daily produce market on Cours Lafayette is lovely for a browse and the Quai Cronstadt is a great place to watch the world go by. The oldest resort on the French Riviera, the town of Hyères is gathered around the Castle of Saint Bernard which sits on a hilltop four kilometres from the sea. The palm-tree-and-Belle-Époquebuilding lined streets once hosted luminaires such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Edith Wharton and Queen Victoria.

Day 8: Transfer to the station to travel by TGV from Aix to Lille and onwards by Eurostar to Ebbsfleet or St Pancras.

NB: Exact order of excursions may vary according to local conditions and tour manager's discretion

Please note the maximum group size on this tour is 49 passengers.


  • Return Eurostar and TGV trains from London St Pancras or Ebbsfleet to Aix-en-Provence via Lille
  • Seven nights' accommodation on bed and breakfast basis at the four-star Aquabella Hotel in Aix, based on shared occupancy of twin room
  • First night dinner at the hotel
  • Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day festive lunch at the hotel
  • Transfers and full touring itinerary conducted by tour manager 
  • Tour manager throughout 


  • Single room supplement
  • Room upgrade to a privilege room (supplement applies)  
  • Holiday insurance
  • 1st class upgrade on Eurostar/TGV. On the Eurostar this constitutes upgraded seating and light meal with complimentary drink with upgraded seating only on French railway leg.
  • Meals other than those stated
  • Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls.
  • Porterage and gratuities.

PLEASE NOTE: As with most trains, passengers are responsible for carrying baggage onto and off the train. Baggage can be stored on overhead shelves or at the entrance to the carriages.Trollies are available at St Pancras, but bags do need to be carried on to the platform.

Travel Editions recommends a luggage delivery service called thebaggageman, where your suitcase can be picked up from your home before departure and delivered straight to your hotel; therefore removing the worry about carrying your cases onto and off the trains. Please click here for more information and we have arranged a 10% discount exclusive to Travel Editions clients off the thebaggageman service. Tel: 01844 264890

You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.

Dates Price Single Availability
7 Nights
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Touring with Travel Editions

Offering a wide range of extended tours and cultural short breaks for the discerning traveller, Travel Editions was established in 1994 and is now one of the leading specialist independent escorted tour operators in the UK. The company started with the idea of creating itineraries that were not readily available on the high street, and the team still remains focused on offering escorted tours that appeal to travellers rather than tourists.

Over the years, Travel Editions has developed and diversified its range of escorted tours to include rail tours, air tours, history tours, Christmas tours and even specialist interest tours that have specific appeal for walkers, foodies, art lovers, music addicts and flower enthusiasts. From enjoying wonderful walks and tasty local cuisine in Crete to visiting the art nouveau buildings of Milan and exploring the architectural gems of the Netherlands, Travel Editions creates amazing tours to suit every budget and interest.

As rail transport is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to travel, the company has carefully developed nearly 30 exciting escorted rail tours that include trips to France, Spain, Brussels, Arnhem, Luxembourg and the Italian Riviera. Travel Editions believes that the journey becomes part of the holiday, and is why this specialist tour operator also offers a range of tours by air, such as Delphi and Mount Pelion in Greece, the beautiful Italian city of Florence, and Paphos, Nicosia and the Troodos Mountains in Cyprus. Whatever the escorted tour or the destination, Travel Editions provides holidays that are packed full of cultural and historic treasures, as well as plenty of free time to relax and soak up the local atmosphere and the regional food and wine.

One of the best things about Travel Editions is that the team can tailor-make all tours to your group’s budget and specification, be it shopping till you drop in New York or tasting the most delicious gastronomic delights of Sicily. Not only can the activities be tailored to meet your requirements but so can the travel options, hotel selection (three, four or five-star hotel) and the whole itinerary. Alternatively, you can simply pick one of the many carefully curated escorted tours listed on the Travel Editions website.

In almost all cases, daily excursions are included in the price of a trip, and all excursions are taken by private coach. The size of the group varies depending on the escorted tour, and Travel Editions limits some holidays to lower numbers to suit the nature of the specific holiday. Walking, culinary and special interest tours are limited to approximately 20-30 passengers, and the Europe by Rail and Europe by Air holidays are limited to a maximum of 35 passengers. Then there’s the UK British Heritage Tours with a maximum capacity of 49, however, some are much less than this. No matter which tours you choose, you will never feel as though you are in a big group.

Travel Editions is passionate about delivering a personal service every step of the way, and its team of experts will arrange your holiday with minimum fuss and maximum effort. Customer service and attention to detail are at the heart of everything they do, plus you will always be treated as an individual and get the benefit of affordable prices by travelling as a group. Another bonus is that Travel Editions is ABTA and ATOL protected, which means your money and your holiday will be protected from the moment you book.

In addition to offering extended tours and cultural short breaks, Travel Editions offers a large range of special events in the UK that bring the culture and history of the United Kingdom to life. These events can be found in the Art & History Abroad programme and include expert speakers, entertaining concerts and impressive dinners in historic locations.




tour details

This tour is operated by Travel Editions

7 nights from pp; per Night
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Start:St Pancras
Finish:St Pancras
Group size:0 - 36
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