After you’ve explored Marseille to the max and seen all there is to see there, you’ll be ready to go a little further afield. Some of the best day trips from Marseille are other cities along the stunning stretch of France’s south coast known as the Côte d’Azur.
If you can, rent a car as there are so many places you’ll want to stop off to take a look at. When you take the train or bus, you won’t be able to do that, so you’ll only get a quick glimpse of them through the window. That can work out to be pretty frustrating.
When you’re going on a day trip out of Marseille, setting off in the early morning can pay dividends. You’ll catch farmer’s markets in some of the small towns along the way and hopefully miss any rush hour traffic on the main roads.
With all the traveling and sightseeing you’ll be doing on day trips from Marseille, don’t drag your bags with you. Drop them off at a Marseille luggage locker and explore the area outside Marseille with your arms swinging.
Where To Go On A Day Trip From Marseille
The hardest decision you’ll have to make is deciding which way to go. The entire length of the Côte d’Azur is peppered with visit-worthy places like Saint-Tropez, Cannes, and Nice. Go a little further, and you’ll be able to say you went on a day trip to another country if you head for Monaco.
Drive west from Marseille, and you’ll find the Parc Natural Regional de Camargue and the city of Nimes with its incredible Roman ruins. They’re all amazing places in their own way. Here’s a little about each to help you decide which you can’t leave France without seeing.
Saint-Tropez is a French coastal resort that has been associated with the rich and glamorous since the 1920s. Its popularity with the wealthy and artistic crowd was concreted after it was used in several well-received movies of the era.
Saint-Tropez is still a favorite vacation destination with A-list celebrities. Keep your eyes peeled while you’re exploring the cobbled streets, walking through the marina crammed with luxury yachts the size of a house, or while you’re having an hour stretched out on the sands, you never know who you might see.
Cannes has long since made its mark in the film industry by hosting the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. The festival only takes place once a year, though, and lasts for two short weeks. Is there anything to do or see there when the festival isn’t on? There certainly is.
Park up and take a wander along the mile-long seafront promenade called La Croisette, and you’ll see the best part of this French resort in less than an hour. Think posh hotels, deluxe yacht marinas, and plenty of classy boutiques with high-end price tags that will make your eyes water. The Old Port is a characterful spot to stop off for lunch or drinks before heading back to your car and hitting the road again.
If you appreciate faded beauty, then you’ll appreciate Nice. While it visually appears to be well past its heyday, it’s still worth a few hours of your time to visit if you can find a parking space. If you do get lucky, then there are two spots in the town you shouldn’t miss.
Forget strolling along the promenade known as the Promenade des Anglais. The blue chairs it’s renowned for are not overly exciting, and the bay views are better in Saint-Tropez. Head instead for the Colline du Chateau. There are two ways to get to this hilltop fortress and gardens. The first is by climbing a lengthy set of steep stairs, the other is by using the free elevator. Believe it, the latter is by far the best and quickest way to get to the top. The views from the top will leave you breathless.
After you’ve come back down to ground level, set out to explore the area of Nice known as the Old Town. You’ll find it easily enough because, like most of Nice’s main attractions, it’s well signposted.
One of the best reasons for visiting Monaco is to be able to say you’ve been. This minuscule but extremely wealthy country that occupies part of the coast north of Nice is the second smallest country in the world. But be aware that the fact that it’s tax-free doesn’t mean everything is cheaper; it’s not.
If you decide to visit Monaco at the last minute, don’t worry, you won’t need to have a passport or identity card with you as there’s no border control. The best thing to do here that doesn’t cost a fortune is walking the Grand Prix circuit or standing outside of the palace, hoping to catch a glimpse of royalty.
Parc Natural Regional de Camargue
To make an escape from cities and sea views, head out of Marseille in the opposite direction to the Côte d’Azur. After an hour’s drive, you’ll arrive at the town of Arles, which lies on the edge of the Parc Natural Regional de Camargue.
Minor roads run through the 86,000 hectares of wild unspoiled wetlands and countryside. The Camargue is home to lots of animal and birdlife, but the most impressive sight by far is that of the wild horses running free and the flocks of flamingos feeding in the lagoons.
Nimes is a city an hour and a half drive inland from Marseille, which is a must-visit for any aficionado of Roman history. In Nimes, there are three outstandingly preserved Roman ruins, which really shouldn’t be called ruins; you’d be hard pressed to find the likes of even in Italy.
Take a tour around the Arena de Nimes, an amphitheater, the Maison Carree, a temple, or check out the three-tiered Roman-built aqueduct, and you may well start to wonder if you’re still in France. Don’t worry, the Italian border is a few hundred miles in the opposite direction so as long as you’re not too bad at reading French road signs, you should get back to Marseille okay.