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Trains From Madrid To Provence

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Trains From Madrid To Provence

Postby circehyll » Thu Sep 03, 2015 8:58 pm

Hi Terry - I just read some of the advice you've given - wonderful!  My lovely boss wants to travel with her two children from Madrid to Provence by train in August of this year.  I've been looking up international trains and am not having much luck getting them from Madrid to Provence without many changes.  Any ideas for websites or for the names of the train companies that would mnake that journey?  Thank you very much!!!  Catharine
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Trains From Madrid To Provence

Postby Fearnleah » Sat Sep 05, 2015 5:02 am

Hi . . . Catharine!      

For your boss who wants to travel with her two children from Madrid to Provence by train in August of this year, it is possible.  Maybe, if!!!!!

BUT, it is probably not the best . . . nor most efficient way to travel.  Here are some facts and background.  Spain has high-speed trains from Madrid to Seville, but they have not fully upgraded the all of the rail lines from Madrid to Barcelona.  That route used to take seven hours.  Too, too long!  Most would do a one-hour air flight.   Now time with rail track improvements has shrunk to 4.5 hours. .   By the end of 2007, the travel time will be down to under four hours.  By the end of 2008, that train time will fully high-speed, taking only 2.5 hours.  

Then from Barcelona to Avignon, it will take a couple of different trains and more time. The quick bottom-line is that the trains coming north from Barcelona are good or OK, but not the great, fast, wonderful TGV Express that are so popular and enjoyable in other parts of France.  Sorry!  As an example there is an 8:45 am train leaving Barcelona, arriving at 12:15 pm in Narbonne.  If you go to Avignon, there is a 1:28 pm train leaving from Narbonne that will arrive in the heart of Provance at 3:35 pm.

The reason you had trouble looking up your options on this routing is that most do NOT use a train to get from Madrid to the heart of Provence.  You have to look it up and figure out a schedule as if it were three different trips, which it kind of is.   You could do it, but it would take about a day and a half of time, plus probably three different trains, etc.  Lots of wasted time, poor connections, long wait times till the next train, etc.

Clearly, I would strongly suggest doing an air connection from Madrid to Nice, then get a car there to go to Aix or Avignon or another city in the wonderful Provence region.  On some of those air connections, it might be cheaper to buy a round-trip tickets and just not use the return flight.   Below is some background on Provence and why it is so super great. Does this help? What are your reactions and needs for added information?  Be happy to provide additional info and answer other questions after learning more from you.  Be sure to complete the evaluation section so that our "bosses" on this volunteer service know we are working hard to make inquiring minds as happy as possible. ENJOY!  Merci Beaucoup!

Thanks.  Terry Casey in Columbus, Ohio

PROVENCE: WHY IT IS A GREAT PLACE?  ITS WONDERFUL OPTIONS: Why do people love Provence?  It is a region having a love affair with the land, earth and environment.  The landscape is lush and verdant.  Open-air markets have baskets of fresh herbs, fruits, flowers, fabrics, etc.  The colorful spirit of the Mediterranean fills the air.  Provence is nature at its purest.  The sky is a piercing shade of blue.  Fields are abundant and the air is clear.  The climate ensures that spring, summer and fall yield magnificent and varied harvests.  Throughout France, Provence is known for the best of everything natural.  People in the area take great pride in these natural traditions for what they grow and how it is prepared in each village and every kitchen.

LOCATION: Provence has at its southern edge the famed Cote d’Azur with its wonderful coastline along the Mediterranean Sea.  Generally Provence is consider the area east of the Rhone River with the Alps being the eastern border.  Provence enjoys a southern sun that shines 320 days yearly, giving the region blue skies and mild temperatures year round.  It is most picturesque in the spring with its flowering trees and shrubs.  Summer offers local markets full of fresh harvests.  Mid July is when the lavender field are in full bloom, filling the country air with a soothing fragrance.  The Mistral winds can bring icy temperatures on bright sunny days. Getting lost can be fun in Provence.  You can stumble across a charming village, history abbey or great tree-lined roadway. KEY PROVENCE LOCATIONS: AVIGNON is "one of the great art cities of France".  Its old part of town has the Papal Palace, seat of Popes 1309-1377, street musicians perform near palace; art museum in Place du Palais open Wednesday through Monday, population of 87,000, town is on Rhone River. Once the religious, political and financial capital, Avignon is today a cultural capital and plays host annually in July to the largest festival of live theatre in the world. It has some of the best example of Gothic architecture in Europe.

AIX-EN-PROVENCE(population of 125,000) with Cezanne's studio on the road to Entremont; university town founded 122 B.C. as first Roman settlement in Gaul, near thermal springs, dining at Gu et Fils. An elegant and beautiful town, the visitor will enjoy discovering its ‘thousand fountains’ as he or she roams through its labyrinth of narrow streets. Aix-en-Provence is also renowned worldwide for its unique classical music festival.

Car travel to such nearby areas as ARLES, highest priority area city with Roman ruins, including 20,000 seat arena where bull fights are held in the summer; founded 49 B.C. by Julius Caesar, population of 52,000, Van Gogh's former home. Tarascon has its 15th century castle. LES BAUX is a very neat medieval village with great views that has no major population now, but tourist flock to soak its history and great views. You should dine right near there at L'Outau de Beaumaniere for ONE OF THE BEST MEALS YOU CAN HAVE IN FRANCE(lunch is more affordable).  NIMES has its Roman ruins and great old arena.  Nimes was settled 121 B.C. and has a population of 140,000.

ST. REMY his its Roman ruins, a population of 9000 and is the setting of world-famous literature.  Saint-Remy is one of the most representative of Provençal towns and allows the visitor to appreciate the true charm of this oft-celebrated region of the country. It comes as no surprise that Saint Remy, like Cannes or Saint Tropez, is a destination for many well-known personalities.  This Gallo-Roman village is on the plains 20 km south of Avignon. Residents more recent than the Romans include Dr. Schweitzer, Dr. Nostradamus and Van Gogh. The picturesque, old village is protected by the circular 14th-century wall which is lined by its protective circle of buildings.  Its dolphin fountain is located in the shaded square in front of a 16th century old convent.  This is a busy, active village, with a good selection of restaurants and hotels for the traveller. Among the shops are a few with some regional pottery, including some beautiful sunflower plates influenced by Van Gogh.  The road between St. Remy and the autoroute(at Cavaillon, 17 km to the east) is a scenic drive out of the past: the road is lined by plane trees .

PONT DU GARD(Roman aqueduct/bridge) to the west of Avignon is a must see; Saturday AM market at Uzes near Pont du Gard can be totally charming and wonderful. Try good Provence website of:


COASTAL SUGGESTION: The old village of Eze, along the coast between Nice and Monaco, hangs up in the mountains above the water and crowds. It's wonderful to visit. Great, great views! Totally charming! Have lunch or dinner there at one of the two great eating places and feel like you're sitting on the edge of paradise!

CONGESTION, TRAFFIC WARNINGS: Be properly warned that Nice, Cannes, Monaco, etc. can and will be extremely crowded during their peak tourism periods.  Lots and lots of people(both residents and visitors), too many cars, too few highways and limited land between the mountains and sea to hold all comfortably and easily.  The movies have made these large cities seem attractive and appealing.  Do not Cary Grant and Grace Kelly seem to be having fun there?  So glamorous and exciting?!  For movies, they make it seem so wonderful.  If you are rich and in the “best, right” areas, it can seem and be wonderful.  BUT, that congestion might be a turn-off.  It depends on what are you expecting, seeking and willing to pay for to hang with the rich and avoid the mobs in these famed areas.

WEATHER/BEACHES FOR THIS AREA?  It is NOT always hot and perfect beach weather during all months of the year in this region.  Also, the beaches are not all perfect, nice and sandy, gently sloped, etc., as some have experienced in Florida, the Carolinas, California, etc.  The movie images paint a perfect picture!  BUT, in many areas for many months, the beaches can be rocky and the weather mostly in the 50's and 60's.  Sunny, probably.  Windy, maybe.  Not trying to be negative, just realistic!  Timing in this area is important!  Movie-like expectations must be matched with reality and your timing for visits in this area.
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