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
Parc Sainte-Catherine 1 esplanade Bernardin laugier 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
La Ciotat by Les Marseillaises
With its rocky creeks, the revival of its town centre and its maritime history, La Ciotat is a destination that combines the art of living, a natural landscape and new locations that are overflowing with history. In the town that has can be considered the birthplace of cinema and pétanque, you are sure to find some very good reasons for visiting! We are talking about La Ciotat, this typical Mediterranean town with magnificent beaches and creeks, where the noise of the shipbuilding yards ceased to exist a few years ago. Today, there is not only the coastal scenery to enjoy there is also the renovation of the ancient district of La Ciotat – or the "Coeur de ville" (the heart of the town) as it is lovingly known by the locals. We suggest visiting some of the new shops as well as some of the beaches and creeks.
The many faces of Camargue
See the many faces of Camargue on a tour that promises a refreshing change of scenery away from the usual tourist sites! Visit the Langlois Bridge, made famous in several paintings by Van Gogh, before exploring the ecosystem in Le Vigueirat. Then make your way to the Tour Saint-Louis and onwards to Napoleon beach where you can try your hand at kite surfing. In the afternoon, head to Domaine de la Palissade, an ideal destination to observe Camargue's wildlife. La Chassagnette in Arles is our recommendation for dinner where the original menu is prepared by a top chef.
Olive oil, olive soap and olives with herbs… A fruit you can't do without!
The history of cinema in Provence dates back many years. And similarly to the region's artistic hall of fame, it was inspired by light...
As you may know, the very first moving picture was screened by the Lumière brothers ('Lumière' meaning 'light') on September 21st, 1895 in La Ciotat.
Art de vivre
The accent: our identity
According to Marcel Pagnol, "if we only judged things by appearances, nobody would ever have wanted to eat a sea urchin"