Third most populated department in France, Bouches-du-Rhône attracts many visitors every year thanks to its wild and varied landscapes and exceptional sunshine. The rich historic heritage and the typical landscapes of hills covered with garrigues contribute to the very strong identity of the department, with its authentic villages with living traditions. Museums, listed historic centers and festivals bear witness to the Provençal culture that Marcel Pagnol was able to tell in his books. Here, you are welcomed with the singing accent of the locals and a glass of pastis (to be consumed with pleasure, but also in moderation).
Bouches-du-Rhône was born from the harmonious meeting of the elements: the fire of the sun, the water of the sea, the white limestone rocks sculpted by the impetuous Mistral wind. The village of Les Baux-de-Provence embodies the charm and tourist wealth of the Alpilles, while the Camargue tells the story of the meeting of the Rhône and the Mediterranean Sea with its rice fields and salt marshes.
One can admire sublime limestone rip raps, creeks with turquoise waters, hills and mountains dotted with Mediterranean vegetation with intoxicating scents. Thanks to the generous climate, Bouches-du-Rhône can be visited all year round, and you will be surprised to linger in the sun on a fine sand beach in the heart of winter. Discover the various tourist destinations that contribute to the department’s fame: Cassis, Martigues, Port-de-Bouc, Saint Rémy de Provence, Salon de Provence…
Marseille, a city of art and history, is France’s leading port, but it is also a city with many facets.
From the old port of Marseille, you can admire small colorful fishing boats. You can sit on the terrace of one of the cafés and enjoy the sun and the view. In the early morning, on the Quai des Belges, the fishermen unload their catch of the day. There you can buy fresh fish to prepare a good bouillabaisse. The port is the starting point for excursions to discover the magnificent Calanques National Park of Marseille.
You can’t visit this mythical city without going to MuCEM. This surprising place, where ancient and modern blend harmoniously, is home to the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations. A large part of the site is accessible free of charge, allowing visitors to discover Fort Saint-Jean, one of Marseille’s emblematic monument.
When you go to the Panier district, you can discover the streets and colorful facades that served as the setting for the filming of the French series “Plus belle la vie.” You can visit many artists’ studios and taste home-made ice creams, sitting in the shade of a small square in this authentic place where the atmosphere is warm and lively.
When you go up to the Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde Basilica, your gaze can embrace the whole city and the islands of Friuli as well. It is Île d’If and its castle that inspired Alexandre Dumas when he wrote the “The Count of Monte Cristo”.
Appreciated by the greatest artists and intellectuals, Aix-en-Provence is known as the City of a Thousand Fountains. Locals and tourists alike meet on the Cours Mirabeau. In this city lined with charming little shops, one lives to the rhythm of the lapping of the water from the fountains. The fountain of La Rotonde, known throughout the region, is directly fed by the Cours Verdon.
In the town, you will discover many salons that have become real institutions for the people of Aix, as they were frequented by great artists such as Picasso, Albert Camus, Zola, Edith Piaf or Paul Cézanne. The Musée Granet exhibits a dozen canvases painted by the latter. A total of 600 works are on display, honoring French, Nordic and Italian painting.
The famous Roy René calissons are made here in Aix-en-Provence. These little sweets are made of candied melon and almond paste and topped with crispy royal icing. You can even visit the Calisson workshop and museum to learn all the secrets of this delicacy.
The ascent of the Sainte-Victoire is an opportunity to contemplate the Mediterranean fauna and flora. Once you reach the summit, which peaks at 1,011 m, you can enjoy an exceptional panorama of the region. On a clear day, you can see the sea and the Alps.
After Rome, Arles is the city with the most Roman monuments. Walking through the streets is the best way to discover this authentic city. The Roman amphitheatre is the most beautiful monument in Arles. Built around 80–90 A.D., it welcomed crowds during the shows that took place there in antiquity. Even today, events still take place within the walls of this mythical place which attract many spectators. In April, for example, there is a lively feria. With this monument, your journey through time has just begun, as there are many other sites to discover in Arles: ancient theater, the cryptoporticus, Roman baths of Constantine, etc.
La Ciotat is an old fishing village. The old port, located between the houses with yellow and ocher facades, has an incredible charm with its small traditional boats. In the evening, you can sit on the terrace of a café and admire the setting sun as it bathes the place in its shimmering light. Every year, at the foot of the shipyard, there is a big medieval festival which attracts both tourists and locals.
In La Ciotat, there is the oldest cinema in the world, where the first works of the Lumière brothers were shown. It is still possible to attend a screening in this room and live a magical experience.
At the foot of Garlaban, the hill of Pagnol, stands the town of Aubagne and its small streets. A typical Provençal market takes place every week in the center. On the stalls, run by merchants with a singing accent, you can find products from the region: olives, anchoïade, herbes de Provence, shuttles from Marseille, etc.
The exhibition of the Little World of Marcel Pagnol, on Place d’Aubagne, plunges us into the world of the books of this author known throughout Provence. To create this playful staging, which delights young and old alike, 200 santons were needed. Here, cult moments from Pagnol’s life are replayed, such as the famous card game with Marius.
Staying in Bouches-du-Rhône
From the ponds of the Camargue to the hills of the Alpilles, from the coastline of the creeks to the villages nestled at the foot of the Sainte-Victoire, prepare your stay in the Bouches-du-Rhône. We offer you a selection of quality accommodation: hotels, campsites, bed and breakfasts… You will also find ideas for activities and visits in the village or town of your choice. You can also contact the Tourist Office of the destination of your choice to get all the details and a lot of tourist information.