Essential istres

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.

Can't-miss experiences

  • 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

We love

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
  • Theme

    Off the beaten tracks

  • Duration

    Half-day

  • Transport means

    On foot

  • Visited cities

    Istres

  • Ideal for

    All year round

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