Nature weekend in France: heading for Marseille!

Beyond its cultural and historical heritage and its culinary specialties, Marseille – as France’s second-largest city – remains an unmissable nature destination for a weekend with friends, family or loved ones.

Marseille, a natural destination

The Calanques National Park

Located between Marseille and Cassis, the Calanques National Park offers both a land and sea adventure. Numerous hikes are organized along the marked trails to discover the heritage treasures and the 140 terrestrial animal and plant species that abound in the park. Seafarers can swim peacefully in the turquoise waters of the calanques, or enjoy water sports that respect the natural environment. This is the only national park in France to be located in a metropolis the size of Marseille.

The Côte bleue, between creeks and hills

Not far from l’Estaque, north of Marseille, the Côte bleue offers true havens of peace between its small ports, beaches, creeks and hills. Easily accessible by train or car, you can enjoy a variety of activities here: hiking, mountain biking, swimming, water sports… Plenty of green accommodation is available in this Marseille area, of the camping or bungalow rental type.

Frioul isles, close and wild

Little pearls of the Mediterranean, the Frioul Isles (with the famous Château d’If) allow you to discover the local flora and fauna while taking a breath of fresh air and sunshine. Yet close to the center of the Phocaean city, these atypical islands allow you to decompress for a moment away from the crowds and reconnect with nature.

Pagnol’s hills and the Garlaban

If you know anything about the history of Marcel Pagnol, you’ll be aware that he spent his childhood on the hills of the Garlaban massif, between Marseille and Aubagne. With its many valleys, these hills accessible by hiking trails offer a spectacular view of the city between land and sea Whether or not you’re a connoisseur of Pagnol’s writings, this landscape won’t leave you indifferent.

At the gateway to Provence’s most beautiful natural sites

All these natural spots are within a day’s drive of Marseille by car or train. We present them to you succinctly from the closest to the furthest from the Phocaean city.

The Sainte-Baume regional nature park

Located in the southern region, at the gateway to Marseille, Toulon and Aix-en-Provence, the Sainte-Baume Regional Nature Park extending over some 81,000 hectares revolves around the majestic limestone mountain of the same name culminating at 1147 meters above sea level. Nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains of the Alps, the regional nature park enjoys a double climate: Mediterranean and mountain. This combination provides it with abundant water, a rare and precious element in lower Provence. The park’s project seeks to reconcile the preservation of an exceptional heritage with the harmonious development of the territory.

The Luberon Regional Nature Park

Extending over 77 communes from Cavaillon (Vaucluse) to Lurs (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence), the The Luberon regional nature Park is home to remarkable flora and fauna, as well as an exceptional architectural and landscape heritage. Since December 1997, UNESCO has officially admitted the Luberon to the world network of biosphere reserves, emphasizing the essential role of this vast territory in the regional ecological balance. Between dry grasslands, cliffs, alluvial plains, pine, oak and cedar forests, the regional nature park appeals to young and old alike thanks to its environmental diversity. It boasts no fewer than 1800 plant species, including 70 statutorily protected, 135 bird species and 2300 butterfly species.

Camargue Regional Nature Park

At the edge of the Mediterranean, inside the Rhône delta, the  Camargue regional nature Park extends over three communes: Arles, Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône and Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. It is at once a rural territory (the importance of nature conservation and the development of human activities), an organization invested with missions of general interest (protection and management of natural and cultural heritage, regional planning…) and a team and network of partners (all involved in a sustainable development project). The Camargue Park offers 14 discovery itineraries through its territory, on foot, by bike or by car. You’ll discover all the richness of the Camargue landscapes: vineyards, beaches, sansouïres, salt marshes…

The Verdon Regional Nature Park

Born in 1997, the Verdon regional nature Park protects 180,000 hectares from Saint-André-les-Alpes (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence) to Vinon-sur-Verdon (Var). The park’s main mission is to preserve and revitalize the area. Between the horizontality of the Valensole plateau and the verticality of the Gorges du Verdon, the park offers contrasting landscapes in its own right. Whether you’re on foot, bike, mountain bike or even horseback, various hikes are possible within the park to share the treasures of these preserved territories in an original way.

Accommodation for a weekend in the green

Sleeping under the stars: between bubbles, cabins and Aqua’Room

Attrap’Rêves, located in Allauch and La Bouilladisse, offers unusual accommodation in the heart of the forest. If you want to recharge your batteries away from the pressure and routine of everyday life, enjoy an original and unique stay in the heart of nature in a themed bubble, in acabin or in a suite and spa with aquarium. You’ll have the chance to admire the starry sky at night through the telescope provided. Between dream and fantasy, your nature weekend is sure to remain unforgettable.

A room overlooking the Mediterranean Sea

The hotelDes Bords de Mer, located along the Corniche Kennedy in Marseille, offers 19 rooms and suites overlooking the sea, the Frioul islands and the Château d’If. This 4-star establishment, the result of a merger between the Hotel Richelieu and the Eden Roc restaurant, boasts a white facade featuring lions’ heads and motifs carved in Art Deco style. If you want to feel like you’re sleeping with your feet in the Grande Bleue, this is the place to make your dream come true.

Unusual guest house in Provence

In the heart of Provence, close to Pagnol’s trails and within easy reach of Cassis and Marseille, the Domaine Jobert run by Joëlle and Robert features four unusual guest rooms set against a backdrop of Provencal chic. Set in a one-hectare park, guests can take a dip in the large swimming pool or relax in the whirlpool bath. It’s a peaceful spot that’s sure to be appreciated after a visit to the calanques of Marseille and Cassis. The domain’s special feature? Its atypical room – in the form of a bubble – open to the sky within a wooded, flower-filled space.

Other accommodations for reconnecting with nature