Marseille: end of the line for the Thello trains from Milan. The Milan to Marseille Eurocity train service will only run twice-weekly for much of the winter (photo © Olga Demchishina / dreamstime.com).
Thello is the train operator running Eurocity services on the Milan-Nice-Marseille route. Latterly, there have been thrice-daily services running from Milan to Nice and back, with just one train each day extended beyond Nice along the French coast to Marseille.
That changes with a new timetable which comes into effect in mid-November. After 20 November, there will no longer be a daily train on that western extension of the route to Marseille. Instead, on most days in this upcoming winter period, Thello Eurocity trains will run only between Milan and Nice.
Passengers travelling from Italy to Cannes, Saint-Raphaël, Toulon and Marseille will need to change at Nice, boarding an SNCF train for the final part of their journey. After the daily service to Marseille ends on 20 November, Thello trains will generally run beyond Nice only on Saturdays and Sundays until late March, when the daily service will be reinstated.
During the Christmas and New Year holiday period trains (ie. 22 December to 7 January), there will however still be a daily train to and from Marseille. During this winter, direct trains to Milan will normally leave Marseille on Sundays and Mondays (although daily from 23 December to 8 January).
There are some tweaks on certain days to this basic timetable, so do check the schedules on the Thello website. Note that from 2 to 6 December inclusive, engineering work is taking place on the main Ligurian coast line west of Imperia, so there will be no direct trains at all from Milan and Genoa to stations on the French Riviera for this five-day period.
Thello is a wholly owned subsidiary of Trenitalia which runs as an open-access operator in France. The Milan to Marseille service was launched in December 2014. The journey from Milan to Marseille takes 7 hrs 30 mins, with some very fine coastal scenery along the way. One-way fares are from €30 in second class and €45 in first class. Tickets can be purchased online at www.loco2.com or www.thello.com.
In the new, 15th edition of Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide, this route is described starting in Marseille and then running east via Nice to Genoa before turning inland to Milan. Stocks of this new 15th edition are now available. The book can be pre-ordered through Wordery who offer free worldwide delivery on all orders. A limited number of signed copies are available direct from the authors. If you are interested in purchaising a signed copy of the book, contact us via this website.