A gastronomic Tour of Berre Lagoon
Off the beaten tracks - Wine and gastronomy
This tour is focused around Berre lagoon, the second-largest salt water lake in Europe. Located west of Marseille, it's a fantastic spot for checking out local producers and tasting what the land has to offer. From organic wines to artisanal ice creams, all the products are made in Provence. There is plenty to pack in so we suggest you pick your favourites from our gourmet suggestions or extend your stay to stagger the visits over two days.
Château Calissanne, on the Provençal wine route
RD10 Route De la Fare les Oliviers 13680 Lançon Provence
Continue onwards to Château Calissanne, a well-known stop along the wine route located in Lançon-Provence. At this stunning estate which boasts 100 hectares of vines, you'll get to discover the 11 exceptional grape varieties that produce three wines a year. The 50 hectares of AOP Aix-en-Provence olive trees yield a variety of different oils each as delicious as the next. The on-site shop in an old sheep barn is especially worth the detour!
A triumphant entrance beneath the Pont Flavien
Cd 10 13250 Saint Chamas
When you finally wend your way back to Saint-Chamas, don't miss the Roman limestone and stone bridge at the way into the town. The Flavien Bridge is 22 metres long and was built in the 1st century BC across the River Touloubre. Today only open to pedestrians, the bridge is covered in marks left by carts that passed across it several centuries ago.
Detour to the Marius Bernard store
192 route Du Loir 13250 Saint Chamas
Once you arrive in Saint-Chamas, we suggest you head straight to 192 Route du Loir. Marius Bernard's fine delicatessen opened in 1958 and has been delighting taste buds with its Provençal flavours ever since. The boutique stocks a range of jars, terrines and tinned food (over 200 varieties) containing sun-kissed ingredients, proudly displaying its fine palate and particular know-how. Top tip: try the organic range introduced in 2011.
Gourmet dining at Le Rabelais
8 rue Auguste Fabre 13250 Saint Chamas
Make sure plan ahead to book a table at Le Rabelais, a fine-dining restaurant set in a 17th century wheat mill. The chef Gérald Guilly welcomes guests into his tastefully decorated dining rooms where old stonework and modern furnishings make a successful marriage. The menu is an homage to local ingredients and more adventurous foodies will appreciate original pairings such as apricot tatin served with pan-fried foie gras or raspberry and basil mirliton.
Quillé's for ice cream!
Miramas le Vieux Place Du château 13140 Miramas
For dessert, look no further than one of the top 20 ice cream producers in France, where you can enjoy artisanal ice creams and home-made crêpes. Quillé offers a generous menu and is the perfect stop for an afternoon refreshment. The house iced tea comes highly recommended! Feeling brave? Take your ice cream to enjoy en route to the town's medieval castle from the 12th century.
Wine tourism at Domaine de Lunard
D16b 13140 Miramas
Back on the wine route, make a detour to Domaine de Lunard, an estate set amongst pine trees and garrigue. The winery has signed up to the 'Nutrition and Environment' charter and produces both wine blends and varietals. If you wish to prolong your tour, spend the night in one of the three guest rooms at this Provençal country house built in the 18th century. Breakfast is served on the terrace. Activities on offer include tennis and walks or bike rides around the countryside.
100% natural wine at Cave de Sulauze
Domaine de Sulauze D569N Chemin Du vieux Sulauze 13800 Istres
As late afternoon approaches, swing by Cave de Sulauze, a 300-hectare estate where they are committed to sustainable farming. At this new addition along the wine route, Guillaume and Karina Lefèvre enthusiastically impart their love of vine growing using organic methods and manual harvesting. You'll also get to learn all about the main principles of biodynamic farming.
Refreshing craft beer at Sulauze brewery
Domaine de Sulauze D569N Chemin Du vieux Sulauze 13800 Istres
On the same estate, the Sulauze brewery is set in an old sheep barn. Nothing like a delicious chilled beer to quench your thirst, brewed using produce grown on site (cereals and hops) obtained from biodynamic agriculture. Lagers, white beers and pale ales are all produced by a couple of passionate self-taught brewers, Guillaume and Julien.
Tour and tasting at a seafood canning factory
Lastly, if your day hasn't been too long or you haven't made each stop, leave Istres following the D5 to Port-de-Bouc. This gourmet stop on your itinerary is La Saveur des Calanques, a canning factory in the region. Guided tours are organised in summer, showing you all there is to know on getting seafood into tins and making poutargue (cured cod roe), tastings included. If time allows, end your tour with a visit to Fort de Bouc also known as Fort Vauban, listed as an Historic Monument since 1930.
- Admiring the magnificent view from the ruins of the medieval Miramas-le-Vieux Castle
- Exploring the underground caves and remains of wall murals from the Middle Ages in Saint-Chamas
- Gushing over the architecture at the Maison des Templiers in Lançon-Provence
- Meeting local producers committed to sustainable practices
- Enjoying fine dining using local ingredients at affordable prices
- Touring a wine estate that brings a refined touch to wine tourism
The best time to visit
- Mid-June for the Feast of Saint John in Istres
- Summer to visit the Medieval festival in Miramas-le-Vieux held in late August
- In autumn to attend the Fête de l’Olive et du Vin in La Fare-les-Oliviers or the wine fair in Istres
Off the beaten tracks, Wine and gastronomy
La Fare les Oliviers, Lançon Provence, Saint Chamas, Miramas, Istres, Port de Bouc
All year round
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Between sea and lakes, a leisurely tour of the Côte Bleue
Explore the typical towns and villages along the 'Blue Coast' amidst lakes and the Mediterranean Sea at your own pace. First Istres with its beaches bordering the biggest inland sea in Europe. Then Martigues with its pretty canals, bridges and quays which have inspired painters for hundreds of years. And lastly Carry-le-Rouet, the pearl of the Côte Bleue, its coastline awash with creeks, beaches and hillside capes.
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Aix-en-Provence is a city of art, a city surrounded by the sea and salt-water lagoons, but it is also a city shaped by the land. Its vineyards, olive oil and local specialities are all a testament to this. Discover the secret to chocolate-making at Chocolaterie Puyricard and head off to meet passionate winegrowers. The terrace at La Flambée du Lubéron on the banks of the Durance will make a perfect spot for lunch! Make sure you don't miss Château Paradis in Puy-Sainte-Réparade before setting off to Jouques where you'll get to visit three exceptional estates (Château Revelette, Domaine la Chapelle Saint-Bacchi and Domaine Villemus) which all promote organic wine production.
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To travel around Provence is a chance to visit extraordinary sites, discover new cities and explore the countryside. But it is also an opportunity to meet passionate craftspeople and have unique experiences, like making your own calisson sweets, delving into the secrets of how soap is produced in Marseille or admiring the work of 'santonniers', makers of traditional figurines. For a sightseeing holiday with a difference, look no further than vibrant and authentic Provence!
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