Spend 4 days in France: head for Provence!

Would you like to discover the wonders of Provence during your stay? Our four-day itinerary will take you through the traditional districts of Marseille, around the Calanques, to the Camargue and the region’s most beautiful natural spots. Whether you’re travelling alone, as a couple, with your family or with friends, your trip to the South of France will be an unforgettable combination of sun, culture and nature.

Day 1: Marseille, a tourist and cultural destination

Marseille, the city of 111 districts

Stretching from l’Estaque in the north to the small ports in the south, which open onto the calanques, Marseille has no fewer than 111 districts, each with its own distinctive character.

For your first day in this cosmopolitan city, we invite you to head for the tourist areas, starting with the Cours Julien in the Notre-Dame-du-Mont district. Here you’ll discover frescoes and street art painted on the walls and staircases. An artistic district par excellence, you can enjoy a concert in one of the many small venues available.

Then head down the Canebière, Marseille’s most famous pedestrian avenue, towards the Old Port. Every morning there is a market selling fresh produce. You’ll be able to see the stalls selling freshly caught fish. On the port, stop off under the shade designed by British architect Norman Foster, which catches the eye of passers-by with its mirror-like effects.

Continue on to the 2nd arrondissement, where you’ll discover Marseille’s historic Panier district. With its narrow, colourful, leafy streets, this typically Marseillais spot is perfect for strolling around and window-shopping in the artisanal boutiques. The producers of the TV series ‘Plus belle la vie’ drew inspiration from this area to create the fictional Mistral district. Numerous restaurants welcome you to sample Mediterranean specialities based on seafood.

Mucem, the gateway to the Mediterranean

In the early afternoon, set off to discover the Mucem, France’s first major museum dedicated to the Mediterranean, inaugurated in 2013 by President François Hollande. Located on the esplanade of the J4, the museum offers permanent and temporary exhibitions that attract countless visitors every year. A must-see during your stay in Marseille, it is a place where history, archaeology, anthropology, art history and contemporary art meet.

Marseille, between sea and hills

Do you love the great outdoors? Marseille is full of remarkable natural sites, both close to the sea and to the mountains. Le Parc National des Calanques (Calanques National Park) covers the municipalities of Marseille, Cassis and La Ciotat, and offers a host of signposted trails for exploring the heritage treasures of the southern region. In the various creeks, you can swim in the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean.

To the north of Marseille, near l’Estaque, lies the Côte Bleue, a haven of peace made up of small ports, beaches and coves. It’s the perfect place to capture a few snapshots of your stay in Provence.

If you’ve read the works of Marcel Pagnol, you’ll certainly want to follow in his footsteps to discover the places where he grew up, particularly the hills of the Garlaban massif.

Day 2: Arles and the Camargue, between history and nature

The ancient city of Arles, in the footsteps of the Romans

Located in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, Arles is a French commune that is over 2,500 years old. A number of remarkable monuments were erected in Roman times, including the ancient theatre, the arenas, the Alyscamps and the Roman circus. With its exceptional heritage, the town of Arles is classified as a Town and Country of Art and History. Its Roman and Romanesque monuments have been on the World Heritage List since 1981. During your 4-day stay, stroll through the historic centre with its picturesque streets and head for one of the city’s many museums, such as the Musée départemental de l’Arles antique.

La Camargue, a wilderness between land and sea

Situated on the shores of the Mediterranean, la Camargue – a natural region in France – extends over the communes of Arles, Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône and Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. This 150,000-hectare wetland area is home to numerous animal and plant species, and is listed as a biosphere reserve and regional nature park by UNESCO. If you get the chance during your stay, we recommend a horse ride in the Camargue nature park, an unforgettable activity.

Just two hours from Marseille, the Camargue’s vast, wild beaches are a little corner of paradise for travellers seeking tranquillity. The beaches of Piémanson and Beauduc, made up of fine sand and stretching for several kilometres, give the impression of travelling out of time.

This Provençal region attracts many festivities, including Camargue races, during which white-clad bullfighters attempt to remove the cockade from a bull’s forehead. Two férias are also held each year in the towns of Arles and Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

Day 3: The Alpilles, a land of light and minerals

Les Baux-de-Provence, village and castle

Nicknamed the ‘eagle’s nest’, Les Baux-de-Provence is brimming with trails that will delight lovers of nature and history. Located in the heart of the Alpilles Regional Nature Park, these paths are an opportunity to admire the local flora and fauna, with 960 species of plant, 90 species of bird, 19 species of bat and several hundred species of insect. Les Baux has inspired many artists, including Vincent Van Gogh, Jean Cocteau and Yves Brayer, and is one of the most beautiful villages in France. On this third day of your holiday, don’t forget to visit the Château des Baux-de-Provence and its ramparts, one of the town’s historic relics.

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, land of the arts

The capital of the Alpilles region, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence exudes all the charm of the Provencal art of living. This exceptional place of culture and history takes you back 2,000 years. Take your time strolling along the shaded boulevards, through the narrow streets of the historic centre and across the small squares adorned with fountains. Numerous craft shops and art galleries welcome you to discover the artistic and cultural heritage of Provence. You can also enjoy a meal in one of the town’s friendly bistros, which showcase local produce.

The ancient city of Glanum

Situated in the heart of the Alpilles mountains, Glanum is an ancient city of the Roman Empire in the commune of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Founded by the Celts, it was heavily influenced by the Greeks. Initially dedicated to the Gallic healing god Glanis (before it became Glanum), it reached its apogee at the time of the first Roman emperor Augustus. The city developed thanks to the protection of the Alpilles hills, the presence of a sacred spring and the proximity of the Via Domitiana. From the viewpoints, you can enjoy an exceptional panoramic view of the site before enjoying the pleasures of its sacred spring.

Day 4: Aix-en-Provence and Sainte Victoire

From Cours Mirabeau to Place des Cardeurs

For this fourth and final day in Provence, we propose a stroll through the centre of Aix-en-Provence, just half an hour from Marseille. From the Cours Mirabeau to the Place des Cardeurs, stroll through the picturesque streets of the town, where you’ll see many fountains. Home to the Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne, a number of renowned cultural institutions are within easy reach, including the Musée Granet, dedicated to the artist, and the fondation Vasarely, which hosts seminars and private events. It is also possible to visit Cézanne’s studio throughout the year, subject to prior booking. During your visit to this authentic Provencal town, we suggest you try calissons, an Aix speciality made from candied melon and almonds.

Sainte-Victoire, in the footsteps of Cézanne

A limestone massif joining the Var and Bouches-du-Rhône departments, the Sainte-Victoire to the east of Aix-en-Provence is home to a range of hiking trails suitable for everyone from beginners to seasoned walkers. With a peak culminating at 1,011 metres, even the most adventurous hikers are in for a treat when they head out into the countryside under the Provencal sun. Each walking route provides an opportunity to learn more about the religious heritage of the massif (the Croix de Provence, priories, small chapels, etc.). Sainte-Victoire long inspired the painter Paul Cézanne, who produced 44 oil paintings and 43 watercolours of this majestic mountain. His most famous works were produced from the Painters’ Field, located on the chemin de la Marguerite on the Lauves hill.