If you are looking to do a day’s outing to Marseille when you are in Provence, take the train—the Train Côte Bleue (the Blue Coast Train). It’s not a regular, high-speed train that covers the 63-kilometre journey, but rather a (literally) slow train that makes many stops and provides some beautiful views of the coast.
Train Côte Bleue
The “blue coast train”, as they call it, runs between Miramas and Marseille’s city centre at Gare Saint Charles.
While both trains to and from Marseilles are TER trains (local trains called “Transport Express Regional), many commuters take the one that gets you there in just over 30 minutes. For those interested in a journey with a view, this trip takes 1.5 hours.
My suggestion is to start in Miramas, which is a small town in the Bouches-de-Rhone department of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur. Take the train to Marseille, spend the day there, and then take the train back. This way, you won’t have to worry about parking and getting around the country’s second-largest city.
The Blue Coast Train Journey
On this longer, scenic journey, there are 14 stops. Besides being relaxing, you’ll get some beautiful views and you could decide to get off at one of the stops which are located right by the water. You can go to the beach and swim or go hiking. Just be prepared with the proper hiking shoes, food, and water. The terrain can be rocky and steep, depending on which stop you decide to hop off.
While not the entire journey is beside the water, I would say the 7 stations before Marseille have the most “water” views. The train is modern and air-conditioned which was a blessing in the heat.
The landscape changes constantly throughout the journey. On the left side of the train, there is some countryside. You’ll also go through some few tunnels and then you’ll continually see water. Some of the areas are industrial but many are “seaside” resorts. I first sat on the left and later moved to the right. The majority of the “sites” were on the right side of the train (heading south to Marseille), so sit on the other side if you’re heading north, coming from Marseille.
Here’s a short video clip to show you what it’s like.
14 Stops Between Miramas And Marseille
- Croix Sainte
- La Couronne Carro
- La Reddonne Ensuès
- Marseille Saint-Charles
Advice On Taking The Train
The ticket office personnel helped me figure out which trains were the Train de la Côte Bleue trains. They’re basically the ones that take 1.5 hours. They even printed out the schedules around the times I was interested in, indicating the applicable trains.
My intention was to take the scenic “Train Cote Bleue” down to Marseille and take the “fast” train back in the same day as I had already visited Marseille a few days earlier. It’s perfect for a day’s outing. People leave in the morning and return late afternoon. Just be aware that there isn’t a “blue coast train” every hour. I was fortunate that I only had to wait about 45 minutes for my train to depart. There isn’t much to see around the Miramas train station.
Your ticket is not for a particular “time”. This is great especially if you want to extend your time in Marseille. There are no reserved seats, so, after validating your ticket, you just board the train. Keep in mind that a lot of commuters take this train, so it could be fairly packed coming back at dinner time.
Return ticket: 21.6 €
Parking: there is free parking at the train station in Miramas; however, it closes at 8 pm, so if there’s any chance you might miss your train and will be late, you might want to park on the street (like I did).
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