Located along the Mediterranean Sea in the south of France, Marseille is the country’s second-largest city, and arguably, the most breathtaking. In fact, the whole region of Provence is renowned for its beauty, and there’s plenty to see – including the French Riviera, charming towns, stunning nature areas, and of course, the ever-popular lavender fields.
There’s so much beauty in this area that it might be hard to decide where to go. Scroll down for our guide of the 20 best day trips from Marseille – and don’t worry, no matter where go, you won’t be disappointed.
Table of Contents
Sandwiched between Marseille and La Ciotat, Les Calanques is a national treasure that you don’t want to miss. It’s a short journey from the city, and once there, you won’t want to leave.
This gem is a coastal nature reserve made up of islands, caves, verdant terrain, and tons of marine life. It’s truly a sight to see.
Active visitors can hike or bike the rugged trails and take in the fantastic views. Those looking for some relaxation can go for a dip in the crystal clear waters of the Meditteranean or work on their tan on one of the inlet beaches.
Other activities available within the park include snorkeling, scuba diving, and boat tours that will take you in and out of the rocky fjords.
If you’re looking to stay close to Marseille, Cassis is the perfect place to go for a day trip. This charming fishing village is located at the edge of Les Calanques National Park, and provides a relaxing atmosphere with a dose of classic Provence culture.
The city may be known for its colorful harbor, but the real draw to this quaint Mediterranean town is the food. Fresh seafood and delicious local wine make Cassis a must for any foodie’s day trips.
This port town also boasts walking trails, beautiful sea views, and gorgeous sandy beaches. What’s not to love?
Another popular day trip not too far from Marseille is the university town of Aix en Provence. Leave the coast behind you as you head inland, to this always-sunny town.
Known for its good weather, clean streets, and colorful architecture, this small town will be a breath of fresh air after a few days in the bustling Marseille.
History buffs will want to check out the old Roman columns of the Aix Cathedral, the impressive mansions along the Quartier Mazarin, and the Cours Mirabeau, the town’s main street.
Art lovers will love learning all about Cézanne and his birthplace, and there are lots of eclectic art galleries to visit as well.
“The City of Popes” is definitely worth a visit. This city along the Rhône is home to some ancient and immaculately preserved buildings and structures dating all the way back to medieval times.
The most noteworthy structure is the Palais de Papas, or Popes’ Palace, home to popes during the 14th and 15th centuries. It has since been dubbed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and to this day is one of the largest buildings in the world.
Not far from the palace you’ll find the Cathedral of Avignon, another ancient building with an incredible interior that begs to be admired. Enjoy a photo-op of the city and river from the Jardin des Doms, located behind the cathedral.
For the best view of the city, head to the end of the incomplete bridge jutting into the Rhône. This iconic landmark dates back to the 12th century, and walking along the bridge is considered a rite of passage for anyone visiting Avignon.
A slightly less-known Provence day trip awaits in Saint Remy. It’s about an hour away from Marseille – and because it’s less popular, it’s usually less crowded.
This classic, Provencal-style town, and its beautiful cobbled streets and architecture even inspired some of Van Goh’s most noteworthy pieces.
Explore some of the ancient Roman structures that remain to this day, including a small amphitheater, funeral monument, and a triumphal arch at the top of the town’s hill. The sweeping views from the amphitheater alone make the trek well worth it.
The small town of Arles is a prime example of a little place that packs a big punch. The city is located about an hour inland from Marseille, making it a great spot for a day trip.
Arles has a host of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, many of them dating back to when the city was in the hands of the Romans. A first-century amphitheater, the Alyscamps Necropolis, and the Montmajour Abbey, are among the most famous structures located just outside the city.
This French town inspired some of Van Gogh’s most famous pieces of art. There’s a fountain made in his honor, and many cafes and art galleries pay homage to him as well.
Spend the day touring the Luberon Villages, situated on the famous hilltops of the Alpilles region. iThese mini towns boast incredible views and some seriously impressive architecture.
The village of Gordes is particularly well-loved, characterized by white stone buildings built into the cliff which the city sits on. The landscape becomes even more impressive when you learn about the village’s survival throughout religious wars, World War II bombings, and earthquakes.
Arrive early in the day, as crowd sizes can swell quickly – especially during the summer months.
With a vibe that’s distinctly its own, Les Baux de Provence is a tiny town located on the top of a rocky outcrop in the Alpilles region.
The incredible views, cobblestones, and ancient architecture of this charming village will have you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time.
This city is the perfect day trip for those looking to explore a clifftop city without all the crowds.
When you’re in the Provence region, you don’t want miss the historic Sènanque Abbey. Take a tour of the grounds and learn all about the lives of the monks who call this place home.
If you visit during summer months, you’ll get your fill of the fragrant lavender fields – something every visitor of Provence should experience. The monks harvest the lavender as well as the honey made by the bees who pollinate it.
Located just outside of Gordes, this is a quick stop if you’re touring the Luberon Villages – but unfortunately, this lovely day trip is only available to those who have access to a car, as public transportation does not stop here.
This region of Provence is covered in lavender during the summer months, from July through August.
Sault is a small town at the base of Mont Ventoux, in the heart of lavender country – where enthusiasts can spend the day seeing and smelling the beautiful flowers. The town has quite the array of products that incorporate the plant as well, from soap to items on restaurant menus; you simply can’t get enough of lavender in Sault.
Other attractions include a distillery, a 12th-century church, and nougat making factory.
The rich and famous flock to Saint Tropez – so it’s no wonder that this ritzy retreat is a popular day trip from Marseille.
One of the main stops along the French Riviera, Saint Tropez plays host to more than just luxury travelers. White sand beaches dot the shoreline, and the Citadel of Saint Tropez is a must-see -boasting an impressive view of the coastline below.
While no one will stop you from spending money in this glamorous city, there’s plenty to see and do here without even opening your pockets.
Known for its famous annual film festival, Cannes may feel like it was made for movie stars and the ultra-glamorous. Everything about this city oozes elegance, from its high-end restaurants to the yachts that crowd the harbor.
Luckily, you don’t have to be a billionaire to enjoy this coastal city. There’s plenty to see and do even for the most budget-conscious travelers.
The natural beauty is part of what draws people to the French Riviera, and Cannes is no exception. Take a walk along the Promenade de Croisette for fabulous harbor views, relax on one of the public beaches, or wander around the old neighborhoods and admire the architecture – all for free!
Continue your trip along the Côte d’Azur to Nice, one of the largest cities in southern France. Well-loved by visitors from near and far, this city has a little something for everyone.
The Promenade des Anglais follows the coast, and is home to an impressive swath of restaurants, cafes, and hotels. There’s also plenty of places along the water to lay out and catch a tan, though you may have trouble finding a spot during the busy summer months.
Don’t miss the highly underrated Old Town area, bedecked with cobblestone streets and impressive old architecture. The Place Massena, the Nice Cathedral, and the Notre-Dame de Nic are well worth a visit.
Head up to Castle Hill for impressive views from the well-manicured gardens. Unfortunately, the Castle of Nice is no longer standing, but it’s easy to see why royalty would have chosen this place for their residence.
Often overshadowed by the bigger cities of the French Riviera, Èze is a small town between Nice and Monaco that definitely deserves some recognition.
Not only is it less crowded than some of the more famous spots along the coast, it’s also much more charming. From its cobblestone streets to the medieval village up on the hill, this quaint town is not to be missed.
The iconic Chapelle de la Saint Croix is just one of the impressive structures here, and the panoramic view from the top of the city will have you forgetting those cramps in your legs in no time.
Located just past Cannes and Nice, the small nation of Monaco beckons visitors of the French Riviera to enjoy one of the most unique spots along the coast.
Monte Carlo is famed for its luxurious casinos and annual Grand Prix motor race, but you don’t have to partake in either activity to enjoy the splendor of this little country.
Head up to “The Rock of Monaco” and explore the old town and the impressive views that you can only get from being up this high. Watch the changing of the guards outside of the palace, check out the cathedral, or stop in at the Oceanographic Museum.
Although it is located a few hours away from Marseille, its definitely worth going the extra miles to see some of Monaco if you’re already visiting Nice and Cannes.
Just a short ferry ride away, the Frioul Islands make for a great day trip from Marseille.
The most popular island, If, is the smallest in size – but you could spend a whole day here exploring. The infamous Chateau d’If is situated on this landmass, and this fortress-turned-prison is simply a must-see.
Ratonneau is another favorite that boasts plenty of beaches, bars, and restaurants to keep you busy after you’ve explored the chateau.
Those looking for a more verdant day trip can head over to the connected island of Pomègues for hiking trails and unspoiled nature.
More nature can be found a few hours northeast of Marseille along the picturesque shores of the Verdon Gorge.
The picturesque turquoise waters of the Verdon River hardly look real, and this striking canyon provides everything you’ll need for an active day outdoors – including hiking trails, climbing routes, and kayak rentals. If you’re not up to hiking, there are lots of incredible lookouts that you can reach by car.
There are also lots of small villages on the way to or from the canyon, so you can stop by for a bite to eat or to simply explore.
Located in the Occitanie region about 1.5 hours from Marseille, Nîmes is the perfect day trip for history buffs.
The biggest attraction in this city is the massive Roman colosseum, second only to the one in Rome. Other noteworthy attractions include the Maison Carrèe and the Jardins de la Fontaine Park which houses more Romain ruins.
Once you’re done exploring the ruins, head up to the Tour Magne for sweeping views of the city.
Located about two hours away from Marseille, the cosmopolitan city of Montpellier is a great place to spend the day.
It’s one of the larger cities of the Occitanie region and has a much different atmosphere than the Riviera or Provence. There’s a lot of al fresco markets, and the city is home to one of the largest flea markets in France.
If relaxing is more your style, people-watching is a great pastime in this vibrant city. Stop at the many cute cafes and restaurants along the esplanade and enjoy.
If you love the Occitanie region of France, then continue on to the Roman city of Bèziers. Located about an hour past Montpellier, it makes for a long day trip, but those who make the journey will be rewarded with all the medieval charm that this city has to offer.
The Grand Cathedral looms high at the top of the hill, and from there, you can wind your way down the cobblestone streets all the way to the iconic bridge that is a work of art in itself.