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Old 06-18-2008, 07:57 AM
Hank Hank is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 751
Sometimes I wish there would be a few others who would respond to these kind of questions. If the poster has his/her heart set on booking tours, than they can certainly book another cruise ship tour (always overpriced) or make on-line inquiries to find a local tour operator. For a few hundred Euros you will be able to get a great tour to anywhere in the region. Most cruisrs think of Marseille as a gateway to the Provence region of France, although, even Marseille has some of its own charm. But, I generally recommend that folks take advantage of the opportunity to visit Provence. If you look at a map, imagine a triange with Aix en Provence, Arles, and Avignon at the points. That is a wonderful region. It is actually quite easy to get to Aix and Arles by train (Avignon is a little further) although a car increases the opportunity to explore the countryside. When we are in this region (be it on a ship or simply when traveling in France) we like to rent a car. As to what you see, in Arles you have an attractive city with an amazing Roman Amphitheater at its heart (they still use this ancient outdoor theater for summer concerts). In Aix, you get a beautiful town with some very attractive wide tred-lined avenues with wonderful outdoor cafes. This was also a favorite home town for Cezanne and they maintain his studio as a tourist place. The reason most of the Impressionists loved Provence was because the provence is full of picturesque scenery and places. One other thing that came up a few weeks ago. While on a transatlantic cruise (Grand Princess) we were having dinner with a two other couples and the subject of the cost of tours and cruising was being discussed. I made an offhand remark that I knew how to reduce the cost of our cruise by 25%. Of course that got some interest and a fun bet of a free drink. I simply took a list of their tours and the cost, and quickly calculated how much they could save by doing the same things on their own (with trains, local buses, and rental cars) and it turned out that it would save them about 28% (I won the drink). Our European friends often remark that they do not understand why Americans and Japanese seem to be unable to do anything without a tour guide. In fact, its fun to spend a day sitting in the Piazza Navona (Rome) watching the tour groups in this very public piaza. We are often told its because of the language barrier. Well, I am an American who has traveled in more than 75 countries, and the worst language barrier problems I have is in my own country where many refuse to speak English!