Marseille is a great example of a Mediterranean port city. Its unique cultural heritage blends perfectly with the modern lifestyle. At the same time, its ancient atmosphere with powerful forts and exquisite baroque palaces leaves a lasting impression.
Yes, Marseille offers many city attractions for travellers. However, you will find even more wonderful places around the city. Medieval castles, lavender fields, dramatic fjords, and incredibly beautiful natural landscapes are all within driving distance. So, it would be a great idea to hire a car and enjoy your road trip to Marseille. A hire car will allow you to explore the most iconic places.
If you have long dreamed of such a trip, let’s consider where you can go from Marseille by car…
Calanques National Park
How to reach: 15 km along Tunnel Prado-Carénage
According to many, this reserve is the most beautiful place on the entire Mediterranean coast. And this opinion is quite true. Calanques are a fantastic combination of 400-500-meters-high white limestone cliffs, turquoise sea, and pine forest.
In total, there are more than 25 calanques on the territory of the national park. The most famous of them are Port-Miou, Port-Pin, and En-Vau. The territory of the reserve is huge – over 160 thousand hectares. So, travellers usually choose to visit several bays, which they examine during a boat trip or hiking tour. The length of the shortest route is about 2.5 km. It’s suitable even for children, but don’t forget to bring sports shoes and water. A visit to the reserve will allow you to enjoy nature and also swimming: the water in the calanques is transparent and clean.
How to reach: 34 km via A50
Another place to go from Marseille by car is the town of Cassis. Don’t know where to hire a car? Pick up the car hire Marseille Airport and start your ride as soon as you land.
Cassis is famous for its white wines and coastal cliffs. People come there to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the big city, walk along narrow streets, and enjoy sightseeing.
Its most interesting spots include chapels, churches and fountains, the City Hall, the Moorish Villa, and Villa Ariana. One of the oldest monuments in Cassis is the iconic Chateau de Cassis. Also, don’t forget to visit the local art museum. However, if you don’t have a lot of time, go for a walk along the embankment first. You can find museums in many cities around the world, but the coastal panoramas of Cassis are just unique.
How to reach: 33 km via the A7 and A51
This is the hometown of the famous French artist Paul Cézanne, who was born in Aix-en-Provence and lived there most of his life. The city even has a Cézanne house museum with many of the artist’s belongings. However, travellers come to Aix-en-Provence not so much because of this, but because of the beautiful streets and the amazing Provencal atmosphere.
Founded by the Roman conquerors, Aix-en-Provence has always been a wealthy city and therefore can boast of mansions with richly decorated facades. Take a walk along Boulevard Mirabeau, visit the St. Savior Cathedral and fountain in Place d’Albert, and take a look at the Church of Saint-Jean-de-Malte. And if this is not enough for you, take a hire car and go to one of the local thermal baths. You will certainly find fun things to do in Aix-en-Provence!
How to reach: 85 km via A7
Although Les Baux-de-Provence has a population of only 400, the flow of travellers doesn’t end there both in winter and summer. Everyone wants to see the castle, which belonged to the Lords of Baux. Its area is 7 hectares, and it stands literally on the edge of the rock.
During the Middle Ages, it was full of life. Tournaments, poetry competitions, and ceremonial dinners often took place there. Today, the castle hosts historical shows, while its grounds present an exposition of ancient weapons.
The incredible mountain views from the castle are no less amazing. What’s more, you’ll like to explore the nearby village with its old mansions and narrow streets as well. It would be a great idea to spend at least an hour there, especially if you combine a walk with a wine-tasting tour.
How to reach: 92 km via A7
This is also an excellent place to go from Marseille in a hire car. The 16th-century castle and the Saint-Firmin palace, the 14th-century chapels and fountain, and the open-air archaeological museum – the list of Gordes’ attractions seems to be endless.
Yes, the beauty of this place impresses, but still, most people tend to visit the Senanque Abbey. Founded in the 12th century, it’s interesting not only as an example of the Romanesque style in architecture. Near the Senanque you will find a large lavender field. It’s difficult to imagine a more typical Provence landscape.
Camargue National Park
How to reach: 102 km on the A7 motorway
Located in the vicinity of Arles, the Camargue is a kingdom of lagoons and marshes, salt marshes, and islets. But the most interesting thing about it is not the landscapes, but the unique animal world. Only here you can see snow-white horses that have lived in the Rhone Delta for thousands of years.
Other notable inhabitants of the park include black bulls, pink flamingos, and dozens of other birds. Since the national park is huge, walking along the route can take a whole day. If you don’t have that much time at your disposal, you can go on a 2-hour car safari or enjoy horseback riding.