Marseille is France’s second largest city, located right on the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
The city has a lot to offer, from the famous Marseille Soap and Canebière High Street to the grittier Le Panier neighborhood and interesting boat rides along the coast.
Located within France’s Provence region, there are also plenty of fantastic day trips that can be taken from the city to delight any tourist.
Whether you are interested in natural beauty, or simply getting to know authentic French culture, there is something for everyone within easy reach of the city.
These are the 15 best day trips you can take from Marseille.
Located on the banks of the Rhône, Avignon is most well-known for its Papal Palace – one of the largest buildings in the world.
Avignon was the city where the popes fled to in the 14th century; the city is steeped in history, not just from this period but from even further back.
Named a European Capital of Culture in 2000, Avignon also has plenty of cultural delights, including art galleries, traditional French cinemas, and theatres which host the world famous Avignon Theatre Festival every summer.
Cute rental bikes also make it a fun city to enjoy a leisurely cycle in.
Recommended tour: Avignon, Gordes, Roussillon and Lubéron Full-Day Tour
2. Les Calanques
Stretching from Marseille to La Ciotat, Les Calanques are a series of fjord-like inlets carved by the ocean out of the natural limestone rock.
The entire region is packed with natural beauty and is a must see attraction if you are visiting the area.
There are plenty of excellent hiking trails which only require a moderate level of fitness. Once at the base of the Calanques, you can indulge in swimming in crystal clear Mediterranean waters.
There are also some great cycle tours running between Marseille and Les Calanques that give you a great view over the region.
Suggested tour: Catamaran Cruise & Lunch in the Calanques National Park
3. Aix en Provence
Known to locals simply as Aix, this is a great place to experience typical Provençal culture and architecture. It is located only a few minutes north of Marseille.
It was also famed as the birthplace of Cézanne, and the city is still steeped in this artistic legacy.
There are unique art galleries scattered throughout the city, and the gorgeous water fountains are something of a local institution.
Much wealthier and cleaner than many other French cities, Aix can be a refreshing break from the grittiness of Marseille, making it a fantastic day trip option.
Available tour: From Marseille: Aix en Provence & Cassis
Located just past the Calanques, Cassis will give you a relaxed atmosphere combined with traditional coastal Provence culture.
It is a great gateway to the Calanques but is also a worthy attraction in itself. The picturesque harbor draws tourists looking for relaxation and local flavor away from Marseille.
Cassis is also well known for its wines and interesting, seafood-based cuisine. There are boutique shops along the main street and the entire town can easily be walked.
There is also a small beach just in front of the harbor area.
Fields of lavender grow all across Provence and the flowers have become a popular tourist draw.
Sault is a health resort located within the heart of the main lavender growing area, where you can experience the many benefits offered by the scent of the plant.
There are plenty of small shops selling lavender-based goods, as well as food outlets that incorporate lavender into their recipes.
Nearby Mont Ventoux affords excellent views over the region, and horse riders will love the special tracks that have been laid out just outside the town.
Recommended tour: Lavender Tour to Sault, Roussillon & Gordes from Marseille
Located along the banks of the Rhône river, Arles is an interesting little town that has a Southern European culture unique from the rest of France.
It is most well known as the town where Vincent Van Gogh produced some of his most famous paintings. There are a bunch of well-preserved Roman buildings scattered across the town, including an amphitheater that could rival the most famous one in Rome itself.
Bullfighting is very popular in the town; it is, in fact, one of the best places in France to witness a bullfight if you are interested.
Otherwise, the many art galleries and cute cafés keep the Van Gogh spirit alive.
Suggested tour: Arles, Roman Ruins, & Avignon
7. St Remy
Though not as well-known as its cultural and coastal equivalents, St Remy is also an excellent option for discovering a local, Provençal-style village.
Van Gogh spent some time here; it is easy to see the influence the town had on his paintings due to the beautiful architecture of the cottages and buildings dotted around the town.
The town has many attractions commemorating Nostradamus, who was born here.
There are also some smaller preserved Roman attractions in the town, including a much more modest – though less touristy – amphitheater.
The quintessential French Riviera destination, Nice has been attracting visitors for decades thanks to its beautiful coastal location and great year-round weather.
The Promenade des Anglais is the most famous attraction in the city, sprawling right across the waterfront with a beach running alongside.
Less visited than the coastal attractions, the Old Town area is also a marvelous site, with gorgeous buildings, winding cobbled streets, and typical restaurants.
Like most other French towns, Nice is packed with quirky art galleries as well as larger art museums such as the Matisse and Chagall museums.
Only a few minutes further east than Nice, Monaco is an independent Principality known as a playground for the world’s rich and famous.
Its location between the French and Italian Riviera gives it excellent views over the Mediterranean, as well as the surrounding mountains.
Most visitors stick to the Monte Carlo area, which has beautiful architecture and the world-famous Grand Casino – a casino frequented by some of the world’s richest and most famous individuals.
If you want a more local – and far less expensive – vibe, you can head to the old town to take in the unique history of the centuries-old principality.
Most well known as host of the world-famous Cannes Film Festival every May, Cannes also has plenty of other attractions to delight visitors year round. Located on the French Riviera, the surrounding natural beauty alone makes it a worthy day trip from Marseille.
Cannes oozes luxury through its high-end restaurants and casinos and is known as one of the priciest nights out in France.
Budget-conscious travelers can still partake in the simple pleasures, however, such as admiring the harbor, French architecture, and grittier, more local restaurants with interesting cuisine.
Located about halfway between Marseille and Nice, Toulon is a great chance to experience the French Riviera without the tourist traffic of the other, better-known towns and cities.
The historical center of the town features medieval architecture and narrow, winding streets that will transport you back to the France of the middle ages.
The harbor features quaint wooden boats, many of which are not only owned by locals but were hand-built.
Many of the city’s museums focus on the maritime history of France, making it a great place to visit for people interested in seafaring. The new town also has a decent sized opera house with local productions.
One of the largest cities in Occitanie, Montpellier offers an entirely different side of France from Provence.
Montpellier is much more diverse than other cities in Southern France and has a cosmopolitan array of cultural attractions, restaurants, and bars.
If you enjoy bargaining, one of the largest flea markets in France is held in the city and many of the vendors treat haggling like a sport.
The newly rejuvenated Esplanade is lined with market stalls and a leafy, coastal atmosphere that will let you take in France’s multicultural side in a much more relaxed environment than the larger cities.
The most famous attraction in Nimes is the Roman Colosseum. It is the second largest colosseum in the world, however, has far fewer tourists than the largest in Rome, making it a more pleasant experience if you want to explore a Roman cultural landmark at your own pace.
The city is filled with other Roman attractions, including a temple and preserved gardens, as well as a Roman bath.
The city has somewhat of a fledgling arts scene, which is exciting for visitors interested in emerging artistic styles. Check out some of the independent galleries and boutiques to get an idea of what the youngest talent in France are producing.
Luxurious restaurants, stunning weather, and memories of Bridget Bardot mean Saint-Tropez epitomizes the glamour of the French Riviera.
Perhaps the most well-known playground of the rich and famous in Europe, there are plenty of upmarket attractions in town to keep you entertained during a day trip.
Elite stores and cafés line the waterfront, but if you head a couple of minutes further into the city, you will find some more budget-friendly restaurants and boutiques.
The harbor has plenty of great ferry and cruise options for exploring the beauty of the French Riviera from the waters of the Mediterranean.
Béziers is a city in the neighboring Languedoc-Roussillon region that oozes medieval charm and interesting history.
The grand Cathedral looms over the city, giving a dramatic impression of the architecture of the Middle Ages; from the Cathedral, wind the narrow, historic streets of Béziers.
The Canal Du Midi that passes through the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site connecting the Mediterranean with the Atlantic Ocean.
Avenue Paul de Riquet is a very relaxed part of town, with cool cafés and intriguing restaurants where you can unwind and enjoy some local food.