5 beautiful day trips in the Marseille region

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Marseille is one of the most popular cities in France, encompassing natural beauty, cultural heritage, and a buzzing social scene. However, those planning to visit in 2020 should also look at some of the incredible locations nearby that make excellent excursions. 


  • Aix-en-Provence


Take it slow in the ancient capital of the Provence, making plenty of time to admire the architectural wonders on display in the “City of Fountains”. You’ll find literally hundreds of these monuments to the city’s ancient Roman heritage in dozens of different styles, but a top pick is the Fontaine des Quatre-Dauphins in the historic Mazarin district, which features four adorable dolphins spurting water.

Many are drawn here by the weekly market that features artisans, crafters, and food producers, but the market also represents Aix-en-Provence’s incredible cultural history, which is also on display at the Tapestry Museum and in the Musée Granet’s extensive Impressionist collection.


  • Arles and the Baux des Provence


Arles is a traditional Provençal town, where you can stroll down tree-lined streets and stop for a coffee at an outdoor café in a shady public square. It’s what artists and visionaries have been doing here for years. 

In fact, Vincent van Gogh featured the Place du Forum in his painting “Café Terrace at Night”. Other locations he painted can be found along the Van Gogh Trail, while some of his paintings can currently be found at the Cathédrale des images in the Baux des Provence. 

This a great day trip to do in the winter months, combining two beautiful locations for the culture lovers out there and avoiding the intense heats and crowds that can restrict your enjoyment. Be aware though that you may need to look into car hire at Marseille airport to do both comfortably in one day. (You can save up to 30% on your car rental by clicking here.)


  • Calanques


This beautiful coastal area between Marseilles and Cassis features some unusual, but magnificent natural scenery, with narrow fiord-like coves cut deep into limestone rock to create pools of seawater, while the light reflecting off the white limestone makes the water appear a beautiful turquoise colour. It’s the perfect place to sunbathe and get some stunning Instagram shots.

This is also a great place for nature lovers because the Calanques’ unique environment has attracted dozens of rare plant species, as well as plenty of wildlife.

Sporty types will also enjoy all of the outdoor activities on offer here, including:

  • hiking
  • swimming
  • scuba diving
  • snorkelling
  • kayaking
  • rock climbing
  • (electric) mountain biking


  • Salon de Provence


This small town, located on the edge of the Plaine de la Crau, is steeped in history from the ancient Roman site on the Hill of Valdemech to the fortress-like Château de l’Empéri (“Emperor’s Castle”), built at the request of the Archbishops of Arles between the 12th and 15th centuries.

When visiting the château, called “Emperor’s Castle” because Salon (and the rest of Provence) fell to the German emperors in 1032, you can also admire the Chapel of Saint-Cathérine, which was built in the 12th century.

While in Salon de Provence, you can also visit the Maison de Nostradamus, which was the residence of the 16th-century astronomer Nostradamus and now serves as a museum. It features historical editions of Nostradamus’ prophecies, some personal effects, and a reproduction of his study.


  • Nîmes


Roughly an hour drive from Marseilles into the neighbouring Languedoc region, Nîmes is filled with ancient Roman monuments, including an amphitheatre, the Arènes, and a completely intact classical Roman temple, the Maison Carrée.

It’s also a delightfully different area to visit because of its location between Provence and Catalonia, meaning that you can see the French and Spanish influences of both provinces. This is best showcased in the cultural events, outdoor performances, and festivals that fill up the calendar during the spring and summer months.

The biggest event is the Festival de Nîmes, held over June and July, which attracts large crowds with music concerts held at the amphitheatre that we spoke about earlier.

If you happen to visit in winter, there are always exhibits worth your while in the Carré d’Art or any of the other museums and with plenty of sunshine the parcs and historic monuments are just as beautiful as in the warmer days.

You now have plenty of options for exciting day trips on your next Marseille holiday, no matter what time of year you go!

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