Once you get to Marseille, you have plenty to do and see. With an array of architectural masterpieces, iconic museums, and other amazing attractions, this bustling French city is sure to appeal to sightseeing enthusiasts. However, the city’s travel list doesn’t end there, as you’ll find many more exciting day trips ideas in and around Marseille.
Want to experience them? Hire a car and get ready for an adventure. You can hire car Marseille Airport with rental24.co.uk which is the best place to start your trip. A hire car allows you to get acquainted with the authentic French culture, admire the local natural beauty, or simply enjoy an exciting drive from Marseille.
So, we’ve compiled a list of the best day trips to visit in and near Marseille. Hire a car and hit the road!
Marseille is rich in iconic landmarks, and the main one is the Longchamp Palace. This is a real architectural masterpiece, which has many secondary remarkable places on the territory. These include the Museum of Fine Arts, the Natural History Museum, and the Observatory. Thus, you will need at least one day if you want to explore all these spots.
Longchamp Palace has three distinct sections. In the centre, you will see the Water Castle with a majestic fountain, and semicircular colonnades leading to two other buildings. The stairs and railings are beautifully decorated with sculptures of hunters and predators. The colonnade and the bas-reliefs on the vault of the triumphal arch deserve special attention.
After admiring this architectural luxury, visit the museums and then take a stroll through the park for another interesting tour of the observatory. Here you can observe the movement of space objects, and look at the instruments used by ancient astronomers.
If you want to spice up your trip to Marseille, head to nearby Nice. Nice is the most popular destination on the French Riviera. It attracts holidaymakers with its picturesque location and excellent weather all year round. The most famous landmark of the city is the Promenade des Anglais, with a stunning beach next to it.
Nice’s Old Town offers a great chance to experience the country’s rich history. You will be happy to see magnificent medieval buildings, wander the winding cobbled streets, and visit its atmospheric restaurants. By the way, Nice is also full of art galleries and large museums, for example, the Matisse and Chagall museums.
Calanque National Park
When speaking about the natural attractions of Marseille and the surrounding area, the first thing that travellers note is the Calanque National Park. Located 15 miles south of the city centre, it’s easily accessible by hire car.
What are Calanques? French Calanques are rocky sea bays. They are very similar to the Norwegian fjords, but the coves in the Mediterranean are narrower and deeper than those in northern Europe. Turquoise waters, white cliffs, and lush vegetation create truly stunning landscapes, which was the incentive for the French to organize a national park on the French Riviera.
The park has clear trails with comfortable paths and easy access to the water. Therefore, grab your camera and get ready to catch the incredibly beautiful natural scenery.
Where do you think the oldest cinema in the world is? In Paris or London? No, it’s located in the small town of La Ciotat, 25 miles away from Marseille. The Lumière brothers shot the world’s first film at the local train station. However, both before and after this event, a lot of interesting things happened in La Ciotat.
In antiquity, the city was an important port, and in the Middle Ages – a fortress. From the 1620s until the late 1980s, people built ships there. Today, there are still many sailing ships in the port of La Ciotat. At the same time, 17th-century houses and chapels, the ruins of ancient forts, and the Eden Theatre take an important place among the city’s major sights.
Parc Borély is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. It was founded in the 18th century, and later, in the middle of the 19th century, it was a favorite resting place for the townspeople. There are several thematic gardens on its territory, created according to French and English models of landscape and park design.
While walking through the park, visitors enjoy views of the herb garden, vine garden, Mediterranean, Japanese, and Chinese gardens. Recently, the park has a botanical garden, which delights with a bright palette of exotic plants.
Here you will see many sculptures and a miniature copy of the Church of Notre Dame de la Garde, made from real plants. Picturesque waterfalls, ponds, and peacocks walking on the lawns dilute the amazing landscape.
Appeared in the 18th century, the Borély Castle is also the adornment of the park. Today it houses 2 museums – the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Archaeological Museum. By the way, Parc Borély borders Prado Beach, so you can go there after walking along the scenic trails.
Arles is mostly associated with Van Gogh in travel guides, but there have been many other highlights in the history of this ancient city. Over the 2,800 years of its existence, Arles managed to be a Phoenician port and the ancient Roman administrative centre, the capital of the medieval kingdom, and the merchant republic.
The most important ancient sight in Arles is the amphitheater. The Romans erected it for gladiatorial battles in the 1st century AD. At the same time, the amphitheater could accommodate up to 20 thousand spectators.
Other unique landmarks in the city include the Roman Empire underground galleries, the Alikamp Necropolis, and the hospital complex where Van Gogh received treatment after cutting off his ear.