Journey time – 1:30hr flight + about 30min wait at the airport + 1:30hr train journey – total about 2:30-3 hours of travelling.
On the last week of summer an opportunity arose to visit France’s famous wine region – Provence with its papal town Avignon.
easyJet offers direct flights from Gatwick Airport to Marselle’s Provence Airport and a quick look around the airport’s website showed direct rail connection to Avignon centre with reasonable travel times.
Although Eurostar offers London-Avignon route, the journey involves changing at Paris with total of about 6:40-7:20hr of travelling, so I have chosen to go the flight route.
After landing at Marseille Airport there are plenty signs of possible rail connections, most notably at the baggage reclaim where you have time to study the rail network connecting the airport.
Marseille airport rail station is located few kilometres away and is connected by a free shuttle bus.
I’ve landed at the low cost m2 terminal and, according to wayfinding signs, the rail shuttle bus stop is located outside Halle1, which is about 500 metres away.
The walk was marked by wayfinding signs and the bus stop was easy to spot from distance.
As I was only travelling with a carry-on the walk was ok, but I can see a bit of a struggle for passengers with more luggage.
At the bus stop passengers can find the live train arrival/departure board, train timetables and information about the shuttle bus.
One of the most surprising things was that the rail ticket office and ticket machines were located not at the bus stop but another 500m away.
The information at the bus stop “strongly recommended” to buy tickets before boarding the bus, but there was no clear and immediate information when the next bus is arriving.
Since my train was about half an hour away, I managed to buy the tickets before boarding the shuttle bus, but some of my fellow passengers left to buy the tickets and missed the bus.
Just after reading ALL of the small print I was able to find that the buses operate according to the rail schedule.
The bus was spacious enough for passengers with luggage and took about 5 min to get to the railway station.
The station itself is quite minimal with only two shelters providing some shade. There is a ticket office and ticket machine at the railway station but no live train information on the platform.
The train is quite spacious for people with luggage or bicycles with plenty of options for seating.
On the way back you must call for the shuttle bus to collect you from the rail station to the airport, the airport’s website states that there is a call button at the bus stop. I didn’t do any of those things, perhaps my fellow passengers did.
In conclusion it was quite a convenient and timely way to get to Avignon but the airport should absolutely improve the rail shuttle bus experience at the airport installing a ticket machine at the bus stop and actually providing accurate information when the next bus is coming.