Marseille-Provence airport at MarignaneWith runways along a huge lake and dramatic approaches across the coastal hills or the sea, Marseille-Provence airport - also near Aix - is a memorable introduction to the region.

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Located in Marignane, some 25 km / 15 miles north-west of central Marseille and the same distance south-west of Aix-en-Provence, the airport (IATA code MRS) consists of two terminals within easy walking distance of each other.

Click here to view live flight arrivals at, and live flight departures from, Marseille-Provence airport.

Click here for the English-language website for Marseille-Provence airport. Marseille-Provence airport (sometimes shortened to amp) has also launched a free mobile / cell phone app for both iPhones and Androids.

NewsMarseille-Provence has embarked on a huge, 500 million €uro renovation programme that will not be fully completed until 2022 (the airport's hundredth anniversary).

The aim is to create a landscaped space in front of the terminals and reduce car and taxi congestion. This architect's impression, pictured, is what it's meant eventually to look like.

marseille provence airport renovationMost immediately the terminal names at the airport have changed. Terminal 1 consists of two separate departure areas connected by a corridor. It was previously known as Terminals 1 and 3/4.

The second terminal, Terminal 2 was formerly called mp2. It caters exclusively to low-cost flights to and from Europe and North Africa and is located in an adjacent shed, previously used for freight. Click here for maps of the local area and the airport itself.

In preparation for all this, the airport launched a public relations campaign, Il Faut Souffrir Pour Etre Beau (No Pain, No Gain), and, intriguingly, set up a website where users could post bright ideas to improve the airport and vote on other people's suggestions.

These make entertaining reading: some are very good, other wacky (a cable car connection between the airport and its car parks, anyone?)

Over a thousand suggestions were put forward. The most popular ones urge the airport environment, currently rather bland and nondescript, to reflect a stronger regional identity.

Among the promised innovations: a vegetable wall in Terminal 1, more greenery in general, a provençal market and a "sensory immersion corridor" involving images, sounds and even smells which will vary according to the season. We'll be reporting on all these changes as they happen.

Flight notes: Air France offers a low-cost tariff called MiNi with fares to a limited number of French, European and North African destinations. The prices are all-inclusive, with no extra charges for allocated seating or light refreshments and newspapers on board. Book a low-cost MiNi Air France flight to or from Marseille.

Marseille has always been poorly served for routes to North America, apart from Toronto and Montreal with Air Transat and, from summer 2017, Montreal with Air Canada.

Despite long and strenuous efforts by the airport to attract a US carrier, there is currently no direct flight to New York: the one operated by XL Airways was discontinued in 2015.

Click here for details of the current low-cost schedules to and from Marseille airport on the Terminal 2 website.

British Airways flies to and from Marseille out of London Heathrow (and no longer from London Gatwick).

 

TERMINAL 2

Many of the national carriers, including British Airways, land at Terminal 1. But most leisure travelers from Europe are likely to arrive at Terminal 2, Europe's first terminal entirely dedicated to low-cost airlines.

It opened in 2006 in response to the catastrophic drop in air traffic to the airport following 9/11 and the arrival of the high-speed TGV rail link to Paris in 2001. Ryanair, is the main presence here, but the terminal also hosts, among others, easyJet and Pegasus.

The new mp2 terminal at Marseille-Provence airport, MarignaneRyanair has check-in machines in Terminal 2, which allow passengers to print off their own boarding passes.

Their sole advantage is that they enable you to avoid queuing for the check-in desk. But the Ryanair fee for checking in at the airport still applies.

You'll want to wear your sunglasses when you arrive at Terminal 2 even if it's raining, as the internal areas are decorated in garish shades of puce, orange and lime green.

Compared to Terminal 1, services are basic. You need to carry your own hold baggage to the drop-off point. No trolleys are available, though Terminal 2 does claim to have special facilities for travellers with restricted mobility.

There are no toilets at the departure gates. This area also has no air-con or heating, which can get unpleasant in extreme temperatures. Incoming passengers requiring to go through passport control can sometimes suffer very long waits at busy periods.

So it's no wonder that at one point Terminal 2 was scoring very low on the scale of standards set by Iata, the trade association which represents the international airline industry. But since then the airport has made some big improvements.

The security check area is much larger and so is the departure lounge. It is now is on the same level as the security checks and passport control instead of, as previously, on an upper floor.

There is a lot more seating, including some seats at the departure gates, a larger and better stocked snack bar airside and bigger duty-free, souvenir and newsagent shops.

Even so, if you have a very long wait before your flight leaves and haven't gone through security, you would be more comfortable in the nearby Terminal 1. Go out of Terminal 2 and turn right; it's a three minute walk.

Terminal 1

Terminal 1 has all the facilities of a conventional airport and displays the Terminal 2 flights on its departure boards. Catering throughout Marseille-Provence airport was revamped for 2013, when the entire region was the European Capital of Culture.

Outlets currently include - landside in Terminal 1 - Starbucks and Burger King. In this area of the airport, a small branch of the supermarket chain Casino also sells (pricey) takeaway food.

The flagship new dining option at the airport is Chefs en Provence, which aims to be a gastronomic restaurant showcasing the best of regional cuisine and produce. Located on the first floor landside in Terminal 1, it's run by leading guest chefs from the area on a rotating three-month basis.

The chefs - many of them Michelin-starred - aren't dropping their own restaurants in order to toil in the kitchens at Marignane, of course. But they will be devising menus and keeping an eye on quality.

Lionel LevyAmong the guest chefs have been: Guillaume Sourrieu of L'Epuisette, Michel Portos, of Le Malthazar, Sébastien Richard, from La Table de Sébastien in Istres and Lionel Lévy, pictured, formerly of Une Table, au Sud and now running the catering at the swish new InterContinental Hôtel Dieu in Marseille.

We quite often eat here and recommend it! Read our full review of Chefs en Provence restaurant.

Other Facilities at Marseille-Provence Airport

Cashpoints (ATMs) are situated in Terminal 1 (international departures and domestic arrivals and departures) and Terminal 2 (departures). There is a bank, the Crédit Mutuel, and a bureau de change in Terminal 1 (both on the ground floor). The business centre is in Terminal 1.

There is now unlimited free wi-fi access in all terminals of Marseille airport.

Left luggage facilities are in Terminal 1 (this service is only available to travellers holding a valid air ticket departing from Marseille) and lost luggage is at the PCPA office on the ground floor of Terminal 1. Tel: (+33) 8 20 14 24 10.

News for Marseille airportDid you make a mistake when packing your hand luggage and include a "banned" item such as a bottle of pastis, a toy weapon, a Swiss army knife or a boules set (yes, they're banned too)? Now you don't need to lose it forever at the security check!

Marseille-Provence airport, in collaboration with a start-up called Tripperty, is pioneering a new scheme. Travellers can, for a small charge, retrieve items confiscated at the security check, either by picking them up later or by having them posted on. It's available in both terminals of the airport. More details here.

Emergency first-aid: ground floor, Terminal 1. Tel: (+33) 4 42 14 24 24.

Aerial view of Marseille-Provence airport, MarignaneInformation desks are located in the international and domestic arrivals lounges of Terminal 1.

French SIM cards for mobile phones / cell phones are sold in Relay newsagent's shops: there are several of these at the airport. The French word for a SIM card is une puce.

There are two VIP lounges at Marseille-Provence airport, the Salon Cézanne and the Salon Luberon. Both are in Terminal 1 and offer the usual comforts: newspapers, magazines, snacks, drinks, television and wi-fi.

The airport has a "coupe file" ("queue jumping") service for frequent travellers in Terminal 1. It's available by annual subscription and you can sigh up for it here

Marignane has a number of airport car-parks. Even so they can get very full - and not only in high summer. Motorists are advised to arrive early to be sure of a spot.

Alternatively you can now book airport car parking in advance on the link above. Note that some car parks have recently been renamed as part of the renovation programme.

The cheapest option is the "super eco" scheme (formerly called "chèque parking"), which offers very favourable rates. However this website is in French only and the booking system is rather complicated. It's aimed at passengers beginning and ending their journey in Marseille and the car-park is slightly further from the terminals (there's a free shuttle bus).

Also aimed at Marseille-based travellers is a very long-term car-park called "extra long" (formerly "XXL"). Vehicles can be left there for between 25 and 90 days for a very modest daily rate.

The "extra long" car-park is located near the "super eco" one and can be booked via the general car-park page of the airport website. It's rather small and quickly gets filled up in summer.

Booking.com

A petrol / gas station is in the airport precinct. Its opening hours are 6.00am to 11.30pm (Mon-Fri), 6.00am to 10.30pm (Saturday) and 7.00am to 11.30pm (Sunday).

Good to know: the airport will give you a free jump start if your car's battery has gone flat while you were away. Tel: (+33) 4 42 14 32 32, or go to the car park office on the ground floor of Terminal 1.

If you're just dropping someone off at the airport, you can use the dépose minute (kiss-and-ride) facility in front of Terminal 1 (eight minutes' free parking) or the very short-term parking in front of Terminal 1 (30 minutes free) and Terminal 2 (15 minutes free).

Hotels near Marseille airport include Pullman, Best Western, Novotel, Ibis and Etap. All are in the same general area, a 10-15 walk from the terminals. Free courtesy bus services run until 11pm or midnight, depending on the hotel. You can phone for these buses in the arrivals hall of Terminal 1.

More details of other services on the Marseille-Provence airport website.

Getting to and from Marseille-Provence Airport

A motorway joins Marignane with Aix, Avignon and Saint Charles, Marseille's main train and bus station, which has a network of onward bus, coach and metro connections.

Taxis from the airport leave from the rank in front of Terminal 1 and the fare to either central Marseille or Aix en Provence should be 50-60 €uros.

A higher tariff applies between 7pm and 7am and on Sundays and public holidays, and you will be charged extra for large items of luggage. Taxis can be booked in advance online via the link above. You can also pre-book a holiday taxi to or from Marseille airport here.

Recently a new company, Hello Shuttle, has started offering a shared taxi service between the airport and central Marseille.

A number of car hire companies including Hertz, Avis, Budget and Europcar, are clustered together opposite Terminal 1 near car park 8.

Our affiliate partner is a comparison search engine for all grades of hire car from Smarts to 4x4s and limousines. It will instantly compare the current rates on offer from all the suppliers at Marseille airport to ensure you get the best deal.

It's possible to get into Marseille from the airport by train from Vitrolles station, pictured below. This service requires you to take a (free) shuttle bus to Vitrolles station, and has been irregular in the past.

Trains have now become more frequent and connect the airport with a range of towns and cities in Provence including Montpellier, Nîmes, Arles, Avignon-Centre, Cavaillon, Orange, Montélimar and Valence.

In 2015 a new (though very sporadic) direct train service began to Toulon via Aubagne, La Ciotat and Sanary sur Mer. The entire journey takes just over an hour and is presumably intended to attract passengers away from Toulon-Hyères airport.

Vitrolles train station and Marseille-Provence airportIf you go for the option of onward travel by rail, you can buy train tickets at the airport bus station as well as at the train station itself, and you can plan your journey to and from the airport online here. The shuttle bus between the airport and Vitrolles station takes five minutes.

Onward travel by bus, into central Marseille and Aix as well as to many other destinations, became a lot easier after the airport's brand-new bus station opened in 2017. You might see it pretentiously called a "pôle multimodal" - but, despite the jargon, it's still basically a bus station.

It's situated in front of Terminal 2 and has seats under a long, shaded canopy, a ticket office and machines and screens with live departures and arrivals.

The best choice of transport if you are going into Marseille itself is the Marseille airport shuttle bus (navette), which leaves from here. You need to buy a ticket before boarding. This also applies if you are travelling to the airport from Saint Charles station.

Tickets are sold on the bus at times when these offices are closed. If you know you will be in a hurry, you can buy airport shuttle tickets in advance online.

The shuttle bus runs every 20 minutes in the early morning and evening and every 15 minutes during the middle of the day. The journey rarely takes more than half an hour unless the traffic is very bad.

A regular bus navette plies every half hour between the airport and the Aix-en-Provence TGV and bus stations and the city centre. Details of the shuttle bus services to Aix and other towns from Marseille airport.

In winter navettes blanches (snow buses) to ski resorts in the Southern Alps leave from the airport near Terminal 1 (as well as from Aix TGV station). Tickets for these should be booked in advance online.

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