Off the beaten tracks
A free afternoon is all you need to discover the very best of Istres. After a delicious lunch at La Table de Sébastien, potter about Istres' historic and typically Provençal old town. A visit to Saint-Sulpice Chapel and the Centre d'Art Contemporain will get you in the artistic mood. While a leisurely stroll around the Jardins de l’Étang is the perfect end to the day. We guarantee you'll leave a little piece of your heart in this fortified town!
Simple refinement at La Table de Sébastien
Le N°7 By Gaëlle & Sylvain 7 avenue Hélène Boucher 13800 Istres
After a well-deserved lie in, make your way to La Table de Sébastien. When you see its stone building and the leafy canopy over the courtyard, you already know you're in for a treat. Get there early to make sure you find a table in these beautiful surroundings. The chef Sylvain Devaux skilfully transforms excellent local produce such as Crau lamb into sublime dishes. No surprises then that this establishment is listed in the Michelin Guide!
Visit to the pretty Saint-Sulpice Chapel
Chapelle Saint Sulpice Chemin De Tivoli 13800 Istres
Next on the list, just a short walk from the town centre, is the quaint Saint-Sulpice Chapel which looks out over Olivier lagoon and affords a stunning panorama all around. The chapel was built in an unadulterated Romanesque style. It is one of the oldest churches in the region. Today, the chapel is embracing the world of contemporary art by hosting a programme of exhibitions all though the year. Don't leave without enjoying a peaceful walk in the Mediterranean garden which surrounds the chapel.
The Centre d'art contemporain: long live the arts!
Centre d'Art Contemporain 2 rue Alphonse Daudet 13800 Istres
Onwards now to the Centre d’Art Contemporain, established in a magnificent 18th century town house in the historic district. Opened in 1993, it puts on three exhibitions a year and supports today's new artists. Its mission is to promote contemporary art and distribute it by working with international partners and to educate younger visitors. Free admission.
A tour of the old town: Provence condensed
Office de Tourisme d'Istres 30 allée Jean Jaurès 13800 Istres
In the second half of the afternoon, you can take a tour around the heart of the once-fortified town of Istres. You'll discover a typically Provençal village centre whose sights include the famous dragon fountain on Place des Bourras, the gate of Arles and the ruins of an ancient kiln. If you enjoy walking, then go by foot to the belvedere next to which sits Notre-Dame de Beauvoir, a 12th century church. Guided tours available.
A stroll around the Mediterranean gardens
Jardin Sainte Catherine Parking Sainte Catherine Chemin Du Castellan 13800 Istres
To conclude your tour of Istres, the Jardins de l’Étang, gardens flourishing with Provençal flora around a lake, are just an hour or two away by foot . Green-fingered visitors are well catered for with some 100 different species to admire. Once you're on the Castellan hill, cool down after your exertion beside the water jet that shoots 50 metres into the air.
- Following the Sentiers de l’eau (water trails) on a guided tour (through the town and along the shore)
- Making the most of the golden sandy beaches with the whole family
- Playing sailors on a solar-powered boat on the Olivier lagoon
The lovely lived-in charm in the historic heart of Provence
The best time to visit
- July and August for the summer festivals and firework shows on the banks of Olivier lagoon.
- Late August to watch the final of the Provence jousting championships in Istres
- Early November to tuck into the wine and gastronomy fair
Off the beaten tracks
All year round
Discover other itineraries
Walking tour in Arles by d'Anaïs et Pedro
Arles, a magnificent town with not only an exceptional ancient heritage but much more to discover. This corner of paradise in our beautiful Provence region combines boutiques, lovely terraces for refreshments, museums and lots more hidden treasures! You only have to look up as you wander through the town to observe its unusual architecture; incidentally all its monuments were listed by the UNESCO World Heritage committee in 1981.
Aix-en-Provence, cultural city break
Cézanne's studio is your first window into this weekend before you head off to take a tour of the more iconic sites in Aix such as the Pavillon Vendôme and the tapestry museum. There's a wonderful mix of the old and new as you alternate between the Fondation Vasarely, the sumptuous town houses in the Mazarin district (Caumont, Granet, Gallifet) and the peace and calm around the fountain on Place d'Albertas. In between art museums, enjoy a feast for the eyes and the palate at Mickaël Féval, a real treat for the senses!
Pays salonais and its chateaux, heritage and wine
Pays Salonais makes a great family day out with plenty of fun and original things to do. After a deliciously simple lunch prepared by the chef at the Table du Roy, follow the road to the ruins of a village destroyed by an earthquake at the turn of the 20th century. In the afternoon, why not head to the zoo? It's the biggest one in the region and runs a programme to protect endangered species. Then make you way to the Marius Fabre Museum to learn all about how genuine Marseille soap is made.
According to Marcel Pagnol, "if we only judged things by appearances, nobody would ever have wanted to eat a sea urchin"
'Herbes de Provence', the perfume of our sun-baked hills...
Celebrating Christmas in Provence with the Thirteen Desserts...
Provence… the perfect place to relax and chill out