Surroundings, Marseilles

Calanques near MarseillesCalanques near Marseilles
Outside Marseilles there are castles, seaside resorts and offshore islands.

Château d'If

About 2km/1.25mi southwest of Marseilles, the fortified rock island in the Bay of Marseilles with its Château d'If is famous on account of the novel "The Count of Monte Cristo" (1844-45) by Alexandre Dumas the Elder. The fortress, built in 1524, was once used as a prison. There is a fine view from the top of the cliff.
Address: Quai de la Fraternité, F-13001 Marseille, France


West of the Château d'If lie the two fairly large islands of Ratonneau and Pomègues, linked by a causeway which encloses the Port de Frioul (yacht harbor; quarantine station). Farther out to sea can be seen the little island of Le Planier.

Aix-en-Provence, France

Toulon, France

Hyeres, France

Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, France

Salon-de-Provence, France

Martigues, France

The picturesque old town of Martigues lies on the western edge of the Etang de Berre, about 30km/19mi northwest of Marseilles.
The character of the surroundings of Martigues has been strongly influenced by the construction of the expressway and industrial plants; nevertheless the town, which because of its situation on the Canal de Caronte is also called the "Venice of Provence", has still retained to a considerable extent its atmosphere of bygone days. The Canal St Sébastien and the picturesque corner - Miroir aux Oiseaux (Mirror of the Birds) - of the Ile, the central part of the town, are given a particularly attractive appearance by fishing boats with their nets hanging up to dry. The canal is overlooked by the square tower of the 17th C. Church of La Madeleine with its wrought-iron bell-cage.
In Jonquières, in the southern part of the town, near the Church of St Genest (17th C.), is the Chapelle de l'Annonciade with 17th C. sculpture and paintings.
In Ferrières, in the north of the town, can be found the Musée du Vieux Martigues with local history collections, and the Ziern Museum (Félix Ziern 1821-1911, landscape painter).

Folk Festival

In Martigues, a Folk Festival is held in the month of July.
The Festival of Martigues began in 1988 and has had thousands of festival goers in attendance. The focus of the festival is modern and traditional folk music.
Address: 14 Cours Aristide Briand, F-13500 Martigues, France

Martigues Europort Sud

With the petroleum harbor of Lavéra in the surroundings of Martigues there begins the largest port and industrial complex in area of southern Europe. It is composed of refineries, steelworks, production of man-made materials and oil storage installations. In this coastal zone, known as "Europort Sud", more than 80 million tons of oil are handled every year. The 782km/486mi long pipeline to Karlsruhe starts from here.

Martigues - Cap Couronne

9km/5.5mi south of Martigues and pleasantly situated on a hill above the Anse du Verdon lies the resort of La Couronne. 2km/1mi south rises Cap Couronne, from which there is a good view of the sandy bays to the east.

Sausset-les-Pins, France

On a little bay, protected by the southern escarpment of the Chaîne de l'Estaque (which was one of the subjects of Paul Cézanne) lies the fishing port and resort of Sausset-les-Pins, 6km/4mi east of La Couronne. It is popular as a recreation area for the people of Marseilles.


The fishing port and resort of Carry-le-Rouet, 4km/2.5mi east on the southern foot of the Chaîne de l'Estaque, is a popular resort and yacht anchorage. The sector of Le Rouet-Plage at the end of the charming Vallon de L'Aigle is especially attractive. Just to the east lies the beautiful Calanque des Anthénors (yachting and swimming) and the little bay of Méjean.


The largely agricultural community of Châteauneuf-les-Martigues, some 10km/6mi east of Martigues, lies at the foot of the northern flank of the Chaîne de l'Estaque. The beach, the Plage du Jaë, is situated on the spit of land cut off by the Etang de Balmon.

Marignane, France

The township of Marignane, 16km/10mi east of Martigues and 18km/11mi west of Marseilles, is considerably affected by traffic using the nearby Aéroport Marseille-Marignane, within which are situated the installations of Aérospatiale (air and space industry, Airbus).

Rove - Rove Tunnel

From the Anse de l'Estaque in the north of the bay outside Marseilles the Rove Canal used to run in a tunnel under the Chaîne de l'Estaque to the Etang de Berre. 22m/72ft wide and 15.4m/50ft high it was the tunnel with the largest cross-section and ships with a draught of up to 4.5m/14ft could use the 7km/4mi long canal. In 1963 it collapsed and has since been closed. From the N568 a path under the railroad line leads to the tunnel entrance.

Château Gombert

On the northern edge of Marseilles, at the end of the Place des Héros, with its rows of plane trees, stands the Château Gombert. Here is housed the Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires du Terroir Marseillais, a collection of Provençal art in the house of a pupil of Mistral.
Address: 5 place des Héros, F-13013 Marseille, France

Loubière Cave

About 1.5km/1mi northwest of Marseilles, at the Massif de l'Etoile is the Loubière Grotto, a cave system with impressive karst phenomena.


The health resort of Allauch is situated amid magnificent hill scenery on the outskirts of Marseilles about 10km/6mi northeast. In the Church of St-Sébastien can be seen a fine painting of the Ascension by Monticelli. To the south lies the attractively laid-out square, Allée des Grands Vents, with four 16th C. windmills, one of which has been restored and now houses the Tourist Office. In the Place Pierre Bellot is the Musée du Vieil Allauch (local history).
Above the village to the east stands the 12th C. Chapel of Notre-Dame du Château, from where there is a rewarding view.

Cassis, France

The little port of Cassis, 22km/14mi southeast of Marseilles, lies on a semicircular bay, framed by mountains. It was once the haunt of painters, including Vlaminck, Dufy and Matisse; nowadays it is an important recreation center for the people of nearby Marseilles.
Of interest are the old settlement center with remains of 12th and 14th C. fortifications, a castle (1381) and the beautiful Fontaine des Quatre Nations.
In September 1991 a cave with important pre-historic painting was discovered. The entrance is under water.
The cave, known as Grotte de Cosquer, is not open to the public.


Between Marseilles and Cassis lie the magnificent Calanques, narrow fiord-like coves cutting deep into the land between clear vertical rock walls. They are partly used as natural yacht harbors and are popular with climbers for rock ascents. The large Calanques, Port-Miou, En-Vau and Port-Pin, are particularly impressive; they are also accessible from the land and can be reached by boat from Cassis (trips according to demand).

La Ciotat and Corniche des Cretes, France

The port and industrial town of La Ciotat, southeast of Marseilles, can be reached via Cassis. Given sufficient time, the visitor should not use the inland route D559 from Cassis but the somewhat narrow and winding Corniche des Crêtes which runs just below the Falaises, the tallest cliffs in France, high above the sea to Cap Canaille (362m/1,118ft). In the afternoon especially there is a splendid view of the coast from the Calanques to Cap Croisette. The whole stretch, barely 15km/9mi long, leads via the Grande Tête to La Ciotat.
La Ciotat, a pretty fishing village with a once important shipyard (now closed; dry dock for ships up to 300,000 tons) lies on the western side of the bay of the same name, dominated by the bold crags of the Bec de l'Aigle (eagle's beak), 155m/509ft high. Offshore is the little Ile Verte (Green Island) with a fortress. In the attractive Old Town are many 17th and 18th C. houses, and near the Town Hall (1864) a turreted keep. Notable paintings are to be seen in the parish church at the Old Port. A visit to the Musée d'Histoire Locale (local history) is recommended.
Following the new harbor northwards we reach the district of La Ciotat-Plage, with hotels and a beach.

Bandol, France

The port and holiday resort of Bandol lies on the pretty bay between Marseilles and Toulon. It possesses three beaches; Plage de Casino (500m/550yd long, fine sand), Plage de Rènecros (500m/550yd long, fine sand) and Plage Dorée (also 500m/550yd, coarse sand and pebbles). The promenades, Allées Alfred- Vivien and Allées Jean-Moulin, are charmingly planted with palms, pines and flowers.
In the church the Baroque woodwork is worth seeing.

St Cyr sur Mer, France

St-Cyr-sur-Mer, a community of several parts situated 9km/6mi northwest of Bandol, has highly developed agriculture - flowers, capers, olives, grapes - and a ceramic industry.
The principal tourist area is the stretch of coast between the yacht harbors of Les Lecques in the northwest and La Madrague in the south.
The Musée de Tauroentum - once the site of a Roman villa - has some well-preserved mosaics from the A.D. first century, remains of pillars and amphorae.

Ile de Bendor

The Ile de Bendor is a rocky island only 1km/.5mi south of Bandol, a trip of only seven minutes by boats which leave the mainland every 30 minutes. Its attractions include a reconstructed Provençal harbor, the Musée de la Mer (Marine Museum), the Fondation Paul Picard, with art exhibitions and courses and a huge painting by Salvador Dali, the diving center known as the Centre International de Plongée, a little zoo and a seawater swimming pool.

Sanary-sur-Mer, France

Sanary-sur-Mer, 4km/2mi southeast of Bandol, is a pretty former fishing village surrounded by wooded hills and with an extensive colony of villas. On a hill to the west of the village stands the Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Pitié, built in 1560, which is well worth seeing and from which there is a splendid view. In the early part of the Second World War a number of well-known German intellectuals fleeing from the Nazis settled in Sanary.

Six-Fours - Six-Fours-La-Plage

Six-Fours-la-Plage, 10km/6mi south of Bandol, is a large community of several parts situated at the foot of a hill 210m/689ft high, with magnificent views of the Roads of Toulon and the Fort de Six-Fours. At the foot of the hill stands the Church of Vieux-Six- Fours, part of which is a well- preserved Romanesque building, containing a fine 16th C. winged altar.
Along the beach stretches an extensive complex of holiday homes.

Iles des Embiez

About 5km/3mi south of Six-Fours-la-Plage, on the southern edge of the Bay of Sanary, lie the Iles des Embiez. The Ile de la Tour- Fondue (95ha/235 acres) is the chief island in this diverse group and has been developed into a center for water sports. The south of the island, which is 64m/210ft high and steeply sloping, is characterized by a salt-works and bathing beaches. The Observatoire de la Mer, a marine observation station and museum, is worth a visit.

Etang de Berre

The Etang de Berre is a large lagoon to the northwest of Marseilles. It is connected to the Mediterranean by the Caronte Canal to the west; in the south is the Chaîne de l'Estaque, a ridge up to 279m/916ft high; to the west extends the Plain of the Crau.
The Etang de Berre is a popular recreation area for the people of Marseilles and district; nevertheless on the southern and eastern shores there is a great deal of industry as well as the large airport of Marseilles and its associated satellite towns. The northern shore, however, with its quiet little communities and gentle landscape is reminiscent of the atmosphere of the lakes in northern Italy.

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