We've put together this handy guide on the best day trips from Marseille. Here's a taste of our top six destinations -
- Les Calanques
Read on to discover what's in store at each of these day-trip destinations.
1. Marseille to Nice
A day trip by train from Marseille to Nice is a must to soak up the famous Riviera lifestyle. As the fifth biggest city in France, it’s impossible to conquer in a day, making it the perfect excuse to come back again. However, there are a few must-visit places in Nice to add to your list. Start with the Nice Opera House which has been entertaining visitors since 1885. Looking out to sea, its pebbled shoreline is the place for a soothing stroll. The narrow streets of the Old Town will lead you to an array of restaurants and shops – don’t leave without having a traditional crêpe, as you watch the world go by. If you’re here for scenic views, then the Parc de la Colline du Château is worth a detour. With fresh alpine air and waterfalls flowing over natural spring rocks, it’s a very ‘instagramable’ spot. Before leaving, Nice Cathedral offers a glimpse into its past, with this ornate piece of architecture dating back to the 17th century.
2. Marseille to Les Calanques
If you’re staying in Marseille, but looking for outdoor adventure, head to the nearby neighbourhood of Les Calanques. An area of outstanding natural beauty, this is great for outdoor types. At the heart of the area is the Parc National des Calanques – an expansive park with excellent facilities for swimming, snorkelling, hiking, walking and cycling. Noted for its crystal-clear waters, you can easily find a quiet spot for a dip, or perhaps take on one of the scenic cycle tours. Pack in all of this, and more, on a day trip from Marseille.
Getting there – the park is best reached by car. The nearest car park ‘Route de la Gineste’ is a 40-minute drive from Marseille.
3. Marseille to Montpellier
The bustling neighbourhood of Montpellier continues to grow at a pace, making it an interesting day trip from Marseille. Add Musée Fabre to your must-visit attractions – its stunning collection of works is underpinned by the €61.2 million renovation it underwent a few years ago. Within walking distance, it would be remiss to exclude Cathedrale St-Pierre, an impressive architectural feat. If you get a chance, nearby Carré Sainte Anne is most definitely worth a visit – this modern art space contrasts to its neo-Gothic Church surroundings, and is free to enter. Again, by foot you can walk to Porte du Peyrou – the city’s answer to the ‘Arc de Triomphe’ and one of its most photographed monuments.
When you’ve had enough of the city, take a short taxi ride to the Château de la Mogère – an 18th-century mansion, nestled in a very romantic setting.
Getting there – the direct train from Marseille to Montpellier Saint-Roch takes 1h 36m.
4. Marseille to Fréjus
On the south-east coast of France, Fréjus is a family-friendly town, ideal for day trips from Marseille. If fun is high on your agenda, then Aqualand has every water slide you can imagine in this fun-fuelled water park. For education of a different kind, there’s lots of Roman archaeology to discover at the Musee Archelogique, which has awe-inspiring treasures that date back to Greco and Roman times. In keeping with the theme, the Arènes de Fréjus is a huge Roman amphitheatre where musical performances entertained crowds in the 1st-century. When you’ve worked up an appetite, stop by one of the many bakeries here for a sumptuous local treat – from lemon meringues to raspberry and almond tarts, you’ll be glad you came!
Getting there – the train from Marseille to Fréjus takes 1h 50m. Depart from Marseille St-Charles Station and change at St-Raphael-Valescure for your final destination of Fréjus Station.
5. Marseille to Nimes
As a main outpost of the Roman Empire, Nimes is steeped in a rich history, preserved in all its glory to this day. If you’re planning a day trip from Marseille to enrich your cultural knowledge, this is the city to visit. Start with the 2000-year-old Roman amphitheatre ‘Arena Nimes’ – an architectural feat that’s used to this day for events and concerts. Also of a similar age, the ancient Maison Carrée is one of the best preserved Roman temples. For the serious art-lover, Musee des Beaux-Arts de Nîmes showcases 3,000 pieces of art with many dating back to its former Roman days. When it’s time to escape the bustle of the city, take refuge in Jardins de la Fontaine. This tranquil park created by King Louis XV pays homage to its Roman legacy, with tree-lined walkways and ancient sculptures beautifully preserved at every turn.
Getting there – take the direct train from Marseille to Nimes Gare in 1h 20m.
6. Marseille to Avignon
A hop skip and a train ride away, Avignon greets you with a warm welcome! If you visit just one attraction, make it the Palais des Papes. This amazing building dates back to the 14th century, created when the Pope’s fled here from Rome. Today it’s a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts tourists from all corners of the globe. Another protected site not far away is Le Pont du Gard – a three-story aqueduct that was built in the Roman era. If you’re just planning a day trip from Marseille, then lunch on the famous Rhône River is a great way to take in the sights of the city. Alternatively, you can dedicate your day to a food tour of this gastronomic city. Home to popular tipple - Châteauneuf-du-Pape – don’t leave Avignon without a bottle, or two on a day trip from Marseille.
Getting there – there’s a direct train from Marseille to Avignon which takes just 32m.