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!
Visit to the pretty Saint-Sulpice Chapel
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.
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.
- 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
- Visited cities
All year round
Discover other itineraries
A gastronomic Tour of Berre Lagoon
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.
3 trips in 1: Marseille, Provence, Arles
Discover Provence's three main towns and cities with this 3-day tour accessible to all. The programme features top addresses in Aix-en-Provence, Marseille and Arles, offering special amenities for all types of disability and the promise of an unforgettable break in the very best conditions. Day 1 begins with an enriching cultural immersion in the town of Aix-en-Provence. Next, it's time to head off to Marseille for a visit to the famous MuCEM museum, before enjoying a relaxing stroll in the exotic atmosphere of the city's Old Port (Vieux-Port), followed by the must-see Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica and its magnificent sweeping views over the whole of Marseille. Last but definitely not least, is stunning Camargue and the town of Arles – a UNESCO World Heritage Site - where you will tour the "Musée Départemental Arles Antique" to delve into the town's ancient Roman history. Your stay winds up in style with a visit to the entertaining "Musée de la Camargue", where past and present rub shoulders on the themes of Art, Nature and Society.
La Trévaresse, abbey and vineyards
The hills of La Trévaresse are an ideal destination for getting to know Bouches-du-Rhône, from its sacred heritage to its sacred vineyards. After tasting honey produced at Rucher Salonais, head to La Roque d’Anthéron where you can visit Silvacane Abbey and Sainte-Anne de Goiron Chapel. Stop for lunch at Mas de Jossyl and then walk it off around Beaulieu and Rognes châteaux. Château de Calavon is along the wine route and is well worth a detour before you visit picturesque Lambesc and end the day at the sumptuous Château de Beaupré.
This sport (yes, Pétanque is a sport, but we'll talk about that later) is an intrinsic part of life in Marseille and has been from generation to generation!
Every quarter has its own boules court and/or boules association, including, of course, a watering hole...
'Savon de Marseille', how to tell the real from the fake
What will it be - 'Chichis Frégis' or 'Panisses'?! Make your choice at The Estaque quarter of Marseille.
Art de vivre
Translation our version of the Essex girl…