Itinerary: On the Sunshine Route – Nîmes, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, Nice

Press release

Route Description

Sunshine in the south of France – along the Riviera, in Provence and up into the Rhône Valley – brings promise of beautiful things: Mediterranean light, strong scents, powerful flavors and amazing festivals. The wine regions all along the way have a particularly glorious sun-reliant past too.

Nîmes rightly celebrates its significant Roman remains through new museums, but it also does so through building projects as architecturally audacious as those of the Romans. This is hardly out of character for a city dedicated to high-profile festivals and other quality fabric-of-life challenges… like the denim (de+Nîmes) it manufactures. Learn more about Nîmes

Avignon is the world-famous seat of the 14th-century Popes, who produced the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Palais des Papes, the greatest Gothic palace in Europe. Nearby is the bridge of song upon which people danced, but just a fraction of those who join the fun during Festival d’Avignon, one France's largest arts festivals. Learn more about Avignon

Explore Aix-en-Provence by following in the footsteps of a famous native son – painter Paul Cézanne. Over here is his fashionable Cours Mirabeaux, Aix’s most famous boulevard. And there are his Baroque fountains, echoing the elements of nearby nature. Everywhere is the pervasive cultural vitality of which he himself is a part. Learn more about Aix-en-Provence

Marseille, the second city of France by population, now proudly owns its rank. There are new museums amazing both for the masterpieces they exhibit and for the architectural masterpieces in which they’re set. There is gastronomic excitement throughout town. And there is nearby nature worthy of every step to protect it. Learn more about Marseille

Nice is more than its five-mile beachfront. In recent years, this capital of the Riviera has opened new attractions, infrastructure and transport, and turned the spotlights back on the burgeoning city itself, from its in-town prehistoric past to its wine- and food-rich present and how it all connects with the hinterland. Learn more about Nice

Along the Way

Between Marseille and Nice

  • Réserve des Monts d'Azur (Haut-Thorenc): a place of freedom for animals returned to their natural habitat

  • Saint-Tropez: the trendy French Riviera town made famous by Brigitte Bardot

  • Cannes: a glamorous seaside city that hosts the most celebrated international film festival

How to Cover the Route

Approximate shortest-path road distances between cities Approximate shortest train/bus travel times between cities
Nîmes ↔ Avignon
28 miles 31 min (regional train)
Avignon ↔ Aix-en-Provence 50 miles 20 min (TGV)
Aix-en-Provence ↔ Marseille 21 miles 13 min (TGV)
Marseille ↔ Nice 124 miles 2 h 30 min (TGV)

Except for the long last leg, the distances between cities are quite short, and there are numerous attractions both in the city environs and beyond them. This route therefore lends itself to driving. However, as there are direct rail links with very reasonable travel times, it is also easily accomplished by train. Note that it takes about 20 minutes to get from central Aix-en-Provence to the TGV station, so regional trains to/from the central station in Aix might make more sense.