The Bouches-du-Rhône department in the south of France is a true gem for road trippers. With its rugged coastline, picturesque villages, and stunning natural landscapes, it offers a diverse array of experiences for visitors.
One of the must-see sights in the department is the Calanques, a series of steep-walled inlets that stretch along the Mediterranean coast. These narrow coves are home to crystal clear waters, hidden beaches, and towering cliffs that offer some of the most breathtaking views in the region.
To start your road trip, set off from the charming city of Marseille, the largest port in France and the cultural capital of the department. We will get back to the must-see sights of the city at the end of the article!
Next, head east towards the Calanques National Park. The park is home to some of the most beautiful and rugged landscapes in the region, and offers a variety of activities for visitors, such as hiking, rock climbing, and swimming. Take a hike along the Sentier des Crêtes, a scenic trail that winds along the cliffs, offering panoramic views of the coast and the Mediterranean Sea. Or, set out on a boat tour to explore the hidden coves and beaches that can only be accessed by water.
As you continue your road trip, make sure to stop in the charming village of Cassis, located at the foot of the Calanques. The village is famous for its white wine, produced from local grape varieties, and its picturesque harbor, where you can take a boat trip to explore the Calanques.
Another must-see destination on your road trip is the town of Aix-en-Provence, known for its rich history and cultural heritage. Take a stroll through the historic center, where you will find beautiful squares and fountains, as well as charming cafes and shops. Don't miss the chance to visit the Atelier Cezanne, the studio of the famous painter Paul Cezanne, who lived and worked in Aix-en-Provence for many years.
After exploring Aix-en-Provence, continue your road trip towards Arles, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its Roman and medieval architecture. The town is home to many important landmarks, such as the Roman Amphitheater, the Alyscamps Necropolis, and the Church of St. Trophime.
Finally, make your way back to Marseille, where you can enjoy a delicious meal of local seafood at one of the many restaurants along the port, and reflect on the wonderful experiences and memories you've made during your road trip through the Bouches-du-Rhône department.
As we have seen, one of the must-see sights in the city is the Old Port, also known as the Vieux-Port. The port is the heart of the city and has been a hub of maritime activity for centuries. Take a stroll along the quays, admire the colorful boats, and enjoy the lively atmosphere of the port.
Another must-see destination is the Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde, also known as the "Bonne Mère". This 19th-century basilica sits atop a hill overlooking the city and offers visitors panoramic views of Marseille and the surrounding area. Inside, the basilica is richly decorated with mosaics, frescoes, and statues, making it one of the most beautiful religious buildings in the city.
The historic center of Marseille, known as Le Panier, is also worth a visit. The neighborhood is known for its colorful houses, narrow streets, and charming squares. Take a stroll through the streets and admire the architecture, or stop at one of the many cafes and restaurants to sample the local cuisine.
Marseille is also famous for its cultural scene, and there are many museums and galleries to visit. One of the most famous is the MuCEM, the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations. The museum is located in the Fort Saint-Jean, a 17th-century fortification that sits at the entrance of the Old Port, and offers visitors an in-depth look at the history and culture of the Mediterranean region.
Another cultural attraction is the Palais Longchamp, a 19th-century palace that houses several museums, including the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum of Water. The palace is set in a beautiful park, which is perfect for a leisurely stroll.
Finally, no visit to Marseille would be complete without a trip to the famous La Plage des Catalans, a large sandy beach located on the coast. The beach is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports, and offers visitors a chance to relax and enjoy the Mediterranean sun!