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At the beginning of the year we visited Marseille, which is a port city on France’s southern coast in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’ Azur region.   Marseille is actually the second largest city in France.

Getting There

While you you can fly directly into Marseille, we flew American Airlines business class from Philadelphia into Paris (Charles De Gaulle) and took a high-speed TGV train to Marseille.  I used trainline.eu to book my train tickets, which are less expensive the earlier you reserve them.

AA A330 Businesss Class

train to marseille

Accommodations

We stayed at the AC Hotel Marseille PradoVelodrome.  Although I am a Marriott Gold member, I haven’t stayed in a Marriott in quite some time.  I was pleasantly surprised to find this property to be new and clean and the staff generally welcoming and friendly. Several staff members gave suggestions of where to eat that were very helpful.  Gold members do not have breakfast included at AC hotels.  Breakfast was $19 euro and was just ok:  a hot station with runny eggs, undercooked bacon, and crepes.  There was a bread and charcuterie station as well.    The lady who checked me in said I received an upgrade. The room was small but did come with complimentary drinks in the mini-fridge daily.  (These were non alcoholic drinks.)  The location is a nice part of Marseille, seems quiet and safe.  It is literally right next door to the Velodrome stadium and the Prado metro station is nearby so there is easy access to the rest of the city – only a few stops on the train to Vieux Port, Notre Dame, etc.  Overall, it was a pleasant 5 day stay and I would return.

AC Hotel Marseille room

AC Hotel Marseille

Activities

We went sightseeing and saw Notre Dame, Les Goudes and the Corniche Kennedy.

Les Goudes

Marseille boats

We booked a city electronic bike tour one day.  It began in the afternoon. Emmanuel showed us the details of the bikes, they have a battery pack that gives you a little extra boost of power when going up hills.   Very nice feature that makes for an easy, lovely ride.  This feature is adjustable so you set the level of assistance required higher or lower.   Once Emmanuel  realized we’d already seen a few of the Marseille sights, he adjusted the itinerary so that we did not have to visit some of the places we’d already seen and instead we saw several other famous Marseille sights and had great views of the Old Port along with views of the city and coastal views as well.  We were able to stop at a typical Southern French bakery, we visited the African market area with many shops (with goods and spices) with items from Morocco and Algeria.  Emmanuel shared very interesting and detailed information all along the way. He even gave us good suggestions for dinner that night and a day trip to Cassis the next day.  We absolutely enjoyed our tour and would recommend it for all visitors!

The day after our e-bike tour, we did take the short , thirty minute train ride to Cassis and enjoyed the sights of that coastal town as well.

Cassis

We really enjoyed the little soap shops with authentic Marseille soaps, the wine, the views and the atmosphere.   It is a nice place to visit even in the winter, so I look forward to returning during the warmer weather when you can participate in more water activities.

Going Home

We took the train back to Paris a day before our return flight home so that we had time to visit Versailles.  What an amazing place!  Again, we were there in the winter so the fountains and gardens weren’t as pretty as they are in the summer but the place also wasn’t as crowded and it was still an excellent visit.

Versailles

versailles hallway

We stayed overnight at the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile which was undergoing a renovation at the time.  The new rooms are great, the location is right next to the metro station so it is easy to get around the city.

Hyatt Regency Etoile

We flew home on American Airlines business class via Dallas (DFW).

AA 49

Great trip!
-J

 

We spent five days in Maui at the beginning of summer.   We flew to Maui from the West Coast and planned the connection to try out Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner in business class.   We flew Southwest Airlines into LAX and took the two hour train ride down to San Diego.   Looking back, I think the train is cool and all, but I wouldn’t make a special effort or go out of your way to take it.

We flew Alaska Airlines economy class, exit row, from San Diego to  Maui.  The flight departed at 7:30 am and THIS was a good decision because we had a good night’s sleep the night before and arrived in Maui ready to go at 10:30 am.

We stayed in Lahaina at the Hyatt Regency which is about 45 minutes from the airport.   This was a Points + Cash stay as a Hyatt Diamond member so we used an upgrade for the Lahaina Suite.    The suite is two rooms, living room and bedroom, with two balconies, but only one balcony is big enough for chairs and sitting.  The other balcony is standing room only.   Our suite was in the Nipali building which seems to have been renovated recently, unlike the main building.

Upon arrival and check-in at the hotel, everyone gets a fresh orchid lei, which is a nice touch!

As Hyatt Diamond members we had complimentary access to The Regency Club.  It was fine: not terrible and not fabulous (like the Grand Club in Hong Kong was).  They had nice appetizers in the evenings, but alcoholic drinks were not complimentary ($5 charge for wine).   Breakfast was decent:  fresh fruit, cold cuts, breads, and one hot item (scrambled eggs, oatmeal, etc).

The grounds at the hotel are pretty, they have penguins and parrots in the open air lobby.  The beach is not expansive and while I was there they were doing some sort of renovations and some of it was covered up. The pool area is great with lots of variety and there are plenty of outdoor shower spots to rinse off sand from the beach.

As far as excursions, we went on a snorkeling tour to Molokini with QuickSilver.  I recommend it!

We booked the Road to Hana tour with Valley Isle Excursions.  We enjoyed the tour, our driver Joe did a good job and was pretty funny.  The lunch left a little to be desired. Food portions were pretty limited. The views and sights lived up to the hype and I thought this was the way to go – versus driving ourselves!

Other highlights included:

  • Lahaina Grill
  • Hali’imaile Distilling (pineapple vodka)
  • Deep sea fishing
  • Maui Wine (pineapple wine)

Returned to the mainland on a red eye Delta flight to LAX in first class and really enjoyed the service on that flight:  food was good and attendants were attentive.   We returned home from the West coast via Southwest.

Go! Maui is beautiful!
-J

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