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3 days in or around Marseille ideas

Planning like crazy and have some days left to fill - any ideas you have would be so helpful! My husband and I (age 64) will have 3 days in/around Marseille at the end of June after 3 weeks in France (Paris, Normandy, Arles, Luberon). We get dropped off in Marseille on a Saturday morning (end of June) and fly home from there Tuesday morning. We like hiking, art, nature, food & wine, and will have had it all in our previous weeks, so we're open to anything - city or country, something different. I'm wary of Nice (crowds) so am thinking about other directions.
Ideas we've had so far:
Taking our chances with no reservations, getting a rental car at the airport, and heading toward the north and west, finding a smaller village and exploring from there. (Yikes! Chancy? Where?) Or doing this with a reservation if we have a destination in mind.
Staying in Marseille to explore the city and maybe day trips elsewhere using public transport (intrigued by Cassis, the Calanques, Camargue?)
Staying in Nimes
Staying in Cassis - which sounds a little crowded perhaps
Our flight out of Marseille is Tuesday 10:30a, so I'm thinking we should spend Mon night near the airport? Thanks for any help.
--Nancy

Posted by
2077 posts

I would spend the three nights in Marseille. Hike in the Calanques one day, but be careful
- take a lot of water, there isn't any
- have good shoes, the terrain is very uneven
- check access restrictions, fire hazard can close the national park (your hotel can advise).
If a Calanques hike doesn't work, you can take a boat tour to the Calanques, and hike in the Frioul islands instead (it's more mellow but still scenic mm, easily reached by boat from Vieux Port)
Then you can spend a day or two visiting the city, there are quite a few sights and a lot of atmosphere (especially in the old town - Panier District, around the Vieux Port, and around Noailles market). If you want to get out, Cassis and Aix are possible daytrips by public transport.
Regarding a 10.30am flight : no need to sleep by the airport, you can sleep in town. You'd have to take the shuttle or a taxi at 7.30 am or so, which sounds reasonable.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you balso, this sounds like solid advice, and a taste of everything. It sounds like a car rental wouldn't be needed either, unless we need one to get to these sites.
Did you mean Camargues in the first part of your post with the fire danger?
I'll research the Frioul islands - I think mellow will be much needed by the end of our trip. Is there public boat transport to these islands?
I keep hearing good things about present day Marseille, so I look forward to touring the area. I appreciate your help!
--Nancy

Posted by
2077 posts

Thank you for your feedback. Regarding your comments:
I did mean Calanques for fire danger - it is both a windy and dry region, so the authorities prohibit access when fire risk is too high. Camargue is lovely but full of mosquitos in the summer and more easily reached from Arles - you could day trip from Arles, with good repellent.
Frioul access is by public boat from Vieux-Port. Frioul-If express. Frequent departures, but the ticket lines can be long in summer, and the islands are devoid of shade - best to go early-ish and pack a picnic (food options exist but never enthralled me). There is at least one public water fountain near the port area on the islands.
And finally, no car in Marseille. Traffic is dire and parking is worse.

Posted by
9 posts

Even more great info, thank you thank you!
Thank you for your feedback. Regarding your comments:
I just threw some insect repellent in the bag, that hadn't been on my radar.
Frioul sounds challenging, but we'll give it a go, leaving early and picnic - I'm excited about the idea of being on an island - always a thrill. Maybe we can get tickets in advance. And no car. Check.
I was just reading about the new Roman history museum, so that may be a winner.
Your help is much appreciated!
Now to see if we can find a hotel!

Posted by
9 posts

oops, roman history museum is in Nimes. Maybe a day trip there? There are just too many interesting places and only 3 days, I'm getting bogged down with too many choices. But that's a good problem to have, right?

Posted by
7513 posts

About hiking near Cassis: the rocks on the trail going out to the Calanques are slick because they are very worn down. Hiking trails in this brush are rocky, period. You need either strong ankles or some sort of ankle support and possibly poles.
Another hike out of Cassis is up Cap Canaille, easy terrain, with a large gain in elevation, but you can take your time. You get a bird’s eye view on Cassis and the Calanques.
Finally, it’s very warm this time of year, so in addition to water, be sure you have a hat and preferably walk before lunch. When we were in Cassis for 6 months, our groups either set out at 7am, which admittedly was so we could reach our goal and have a nice meal and wine at lunch, or the afternoon hiking group was on hiatus until September due to the heat.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks Bets, this is great information. I won't be bringing my walking sticks, nor hiking boots, so perhaps this will have to wait for another France trip. I'll look more into Cap Canaille and see how the weather turns out for us. Early morning hikes and a nice lunch with wine sounds perfect actually.
Thanks for responding! --Nancy