Since it first started shuttling passengers through the Channel Tunnel back in 1994, Eurostar has been a convenient and speedy way to see the delights of Paris, Brussels and beyond – and from May 2015, the service will be offering a whole lot more and going a whole lot further.

If you’ve ever fancied a visit to the marvellous South of France, this may well be the trip for you. With prices starting from as little as £99, you can now ride the Eurostar straight into France’s second city, Marseilles.

Eurostar Train

Eurostar Train

Marseilles is an enticing destination in and of itself. With a Mediterranean climate and one of the largest Ports in Europe, it has a buzzing metropolitan feel thanks to its multicultural vibrancy, art galleries, museums and beaches. It’s also a fantastic gateway to explore the true splendour of the South of France, with the Côte d’Azur and the inland beauty of Provence practically next door – and that’s not a choice we’d envy anyone having to make.

And it’s not just good news for Francophiles. Grabbing the Eurostar’s new service means you’ll be avoiding the hassle of airports, or even ditching the flight altogether if air travel is something you’d rather avoid. You could be heading straight down to the glorious South of France without a bum-numbing 10-hour drive from Calais, with the entire train journey from London St. Pancras taking a relatively brisk 6hr 15mins.

Beautiful Marseilles, France

Beautiful Marseilles, France

There’s a better and much longer-lasting reason to ditch the flight or the extensive car journey though, and one that has the added benefit of the feelgood factor. Studies have shown that the Eurostar produces up to 80% less emissions than flying and up to 50% less than driving, so it’s the ideal choice if you want to help save the environment. And seeing as you’ll be passing through the breathtakingly beautiful Provence countryside on the way, you’ll be able to fully appreciate reducing the impact of your carbon footprint.

Avignon, France

Avignon, France

The new service will also stop at Avignon, where you’ll find some of our best Luxury France villas and Chateaux! That journey takes just a little under six hours, and if the idea of a train journey through some of France’s stunning countryside with a gorgeous holiday home waiting at the end of it sounds like your cup of tea (or glass of Côtes de Rhône), here’s our pick of some of the most eye catching properties close to where the Eurostar stops in Avignon.

Mas Auralina

Villa Mas Auralina, France

Villa Mas Auralina, France

Just over 10 miles outside Avignon, Mas Auralina sleeps 14 guests in a beautiful converted farmhouse with no detail overlooked when it comes to luxury. In the summer months you can lounge around the pool house and head inside to curl up around the fire if the evening gets a little chillier, and everyone’s bound to enjoy the villas most unique feature – your very own cinema room, complete with classic movie theatre seating! The cost is pretty comfortable too, with prices starting from as little £24 per person per night.

Chateau De Servan

Chateau De Servan, France

Chateau De Servan, France

As it’s found roughly halfway between Avignon and Marseilles, Chateau De Servan makes the perfect base if you want to divide your time exploring both cities. Closer still is a number of characterful and characteristic French towns including Baux de Provence and Saint Rémy de Servanne, where you’ll find living history rubbing shoulders with inviting local colour. The nearby Chaîne des Alpilles mountains are also great for a day of rambling and taking in the scenery of Provence! Sleeps 20 guests and available from £70 per person per night.

Villa Romane

Villa Romane, France

Villa Romane, France

Only 15 miles from Avignon but a little further out from Marseilles, Villa Romane accommodates 12 guests in chic and colourful surroundings from as little as £23 per person per night. With a large entranceway and sitting room to set the mood, gorgeous panoramic views over the Rhône valley stretch down from the gardens and circular pool to St Remy de Provence – the perfect place to fire up the barbecue and the poolside kitchen, grab a few artisanal local ingredients and whip up an al fresco feast that you’re not likely to forget!

If you’re looking to take advantage of Eurostar’s new super-speedy service to Avignon and Marseilles, just head to their website where you’ll find all the information you’ll need. And don’t forget, Oliver’s Travels has a huge portfolio of luxury South of France villas for you to browse, book and enjoy!

(Picture credits: Lead picture via Wolfgang Staudt, Eurostar Train via Mike Knell, Beautiful Marseilles, France via Selden Vestrit, Avignon, France via Jarrod Doll)

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