Ideas for a 3 day trip in France? : head for Provence!

Would you like to discover the wonders of Provence for the duration of your stay? For three days, follow our itinerary that will take you to Marseille’s atypical districts, near and within the Calanques and to the region’s most beautiful natural spots, between the Alpilles and the Luberon. Sun, culture and nature will make your trip to the South of France unforgettable, whether you’re travelling as a couple, with family or friends.

Day 1: Marseille, visit a cosmopolitan metropolis

Urban wanderings, from the Cours Julien to the Old Port

On your first day in Provence, head to Marseille to begin with a discovery of the frescoes and street art of the Cours Julien within the quartier Notre-Dame-du-Mont. This is an original place where street musicians like to share their compositions with passers-by.

After strolling through the streets and staircases of the Cours, you continue down the Canebière – Marseille’s most famous pedestrian avenue – to the Vieux-Port. Every morning, it’s possible to observe the stalls of freshly caught fish merchants. Right next to the market, you can take a moment to admire this Norman Foster-designed shade roof, which plays on mirror effects.

The Mucem, meeting the civilizations of the Mediterranean

After the lunch break, you head for the Mucem on the J4 esplanade, one of the must-see activities. France’s first major museum dedicated to the Mediterranean, this museum with its original building designed by architect Rudy Ricciotti offers permanent and temporary exhibitions that attract large numbers of visitors every year. Inaugurated in 2013 by President François Hollande, it is a place of exchange where history, archaeology, anthropology, art history and contemporary art intersect. You can also recently discover the replica of the Grotte Cosquer: located in the Villa Méditerranée, it’s a unique experience aboard small vehicles, but also a cultural venue to learn more about our ancestors and their way of life.

In the picturesque streets of the Panier district

At the end of the day, head for Marseille’s historic district, namely the Panier quarter, in the 2nd district. Made up of narrow, colorful and vegetated alleys, this typical spot from Marseille is ideal for strolling and shopping, where a good number of artisans will gladly welcome you. For your dinner, various convivial restaurants will open their doors for you to taste Provencal specialties, often based on seafood.

Day 2: Provence by the sea, from the islands to the calanques

Visit the Château d’If and the Frioul islands

To continue your stay, why not take a sea shuttle from the Vieux-Port on this second day to discover the Frioul islands (Pomègues, Ratonneau, Tiboulen and If)? It’s a chance to admire the local flora and fauna, but also a part of Marseille’s history, perched on a rock.

As you set sail, you’ll enjoy a moment of escape away from the city center, allowing you to taste the turquoise water, appreciate the seabed and explore the relics present on this archipelago. The island we’re most interested in is If, where you can visit the château d’If, a former state prison made famous by Alexandre Dumas in Le Comte de Monte-Cristo, the novel in which the hero is locked up in the fortress.

Discover the Calanques National Park by sea

After this morning excursion, it’s time to discover the Calanques National Park via the sea, a veritable paradise between land and sea. For an original experience, you can visit Marseille’s calanques by boat from the Vieux-Port. From this starting point, you’ll enjoy an exceptional landscape of Marseille’s harbor, the Frioul islands, the Château d’If and the Marseilleveyre massif.

To end your day under the sign of the sea in style, head on your return to land to one of the restaurants renowned for their delicious bouillabaisse, a Marseille specialty based on fish and stock. To try this timeless recipe, you can visit Chez Michel, Chez Fonfon or to l’Épuisette, in the 7th district overlooking the Grande Bleue, or to Miramar on the Vieux-Port.

Day 3: Provence by nature, road trip between Alpilles and Luberon

Les Baux-de-Provence, medieval eagle’s nest

On this third and final day in Provence, you head for the Alpilles for a day under the sign of nature. Having inspired numerous artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Jean Cocteau and Yves Brayer, Les Baux-de-Provence – also known as the “eagle’s nest” – is packed with trails to satisfy nature and history lovers, as well as sports enthusiasts. Set in the heart of the Alpilles Regional Nature Park, these trails allow visitors to admire the local flora and fauna, rich in 960 plant species, 90 bird species, 19 bat species and several hundred insect species. Spanning an area of 16 communes, including Les Baux-de-Provence, the Parc des Alpilles certainly displays its Provencal identity, between the Camargue and the Luberon.

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, land of arts and culture

An exceptional place of culture and history, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence – capital of the Alpilles – spreads the charm of the Provencal art of living. As you drive through this commune, you’ll enjoy 2,000 years of history and culture. As many artists have done before, stroll along the shaded boulevards, through the ruelles of the historic center and across the small squares adorned with fountains. You can enter the beautiful boutiques and art galleries to discover all the artistic and cultural heritage of Provence. Before continuing your stroll, take time to refresh yourself and enjoy a delicious sun-drenched dish in one of the many bistros showcasing local and terroir products.

Gordes, perched village of the Luberon

Considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in France, Gordes lies on the edge of the Luberon Regional Natural Park, in the heart of the Vaucluse mountains. A true emblem of the Provençal hilltop village, this mainly limestone village owes its aura to the artists who revealed it and left a cultural imprint that is still alive today. Classified as a historic monument in 1931, the castle overlooks the entire village and today hosts major summer exhibitions. Bringing together all the authenticity of Provence, it’s undoubtedly the best place to end a three-day stay in Provence.