Marseille (Provence), France
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Approximately 8 Hours
The famously picturesque region of southeastern France inspired masterpieces by Cézanne, Van Gogh, Renoir, Matisse and Picasso. Discover its beauty on this full-day tour.
Your day begins with a motorcoach ride that whisks you from the port to Aix-en-Provence -- a university and spa town and the cultural and political center of Provence. Aix has a Mediterranean climate and is positioned at the foot of Mont Sainte-Victoire, the imposing mountain that was a frequent subject in the paintings of Paul Cézanne. Aix is a charming place with a lively student population and a vibrant, sophisticated cultural scene.
You'll begin in the heart of town at Cours Mirabeau, an idyllic, tree-lined boulevard adorned with beautiful fountains and many outdoor cafés. From here, take a guided walking tour through the city's romantic streets, lined with stately 17th- and 18th-century mansions.
The former medieval capital of Provence, Aix is sometimes called the "city of a thousand fountains. " You will visit one of the most noteworthy -- a fountain adorned with sculptures of four dolphins residing at the center of the 17th-century Four Dolphins Square.
You will also visit the Mazarin Quarter, designed by Archbishop Michel Mazarin, brother of the famous cardinal. Laid out in 1646, its rectangular design is a characteristic of 17th-century town planning.
Your guide will show you around the Old Town, home to the Saint-Sauveur d'Aix Cathedral. This stunning 12th-century National Monument incorporates both Romanesque and Gothic architecture. The cathedral features more than 200 statues and other notable works of art.
Lunch is served at a local restaurant; then you will have some free time to browse among the stalls at the nearby markets, art galleries, boutiques and antique shops.
Try one of the region's sweet specialties, the Calisson d'Aix. This diamond-shaped candy is made of almonds, honey and preserved melon -- delicious.
From Aix, you will re-board the motorcoach and head back towards Marseille, with some delightful stops along the way. You will drive along the Corniche du President J.F. Kennedy -- a scenic coastal road dedicated to the U.S. president and offering stunning views of the coast's craggy cliffs and beaches.
You will pass the magnificent Cathédrale de la Major, an extravagant neo-Byzantine structure that dates back to the 19th century. Pause for photos at the bustling Old Port, where working fishermen mingle with the younger crowd frequenting the fashionable bars, restaurants and theaters that have revitalized this part of town.
Your final stop is at the Basilica Notre-Dame de la Garde, a neo-Byzantine church built on the foundation of a military fort built by King François I, strategically placed atop the highest point in the city. A square bell tower rises 130 feet over the entrance and supports a copper and gilded gold statue of the Virgin Mary that looks out over Marseille. Don't miss the colorful mosaics decorating the interior cupolas.
Relax on your return ride to the ship.
Flash photography and video are not permitted inside the cathedral in Aix or inside the basilica in Marseille. Walking is required over even and cobblestone streets, with approximately 160 steps to negotiate at Notre Dame de la Garde. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Use of an audio headset (included) will enhance your tour experience.