Back in July, I spent a few days in Marseille on a Wind Collective community trip. These are informal trips made up of travellers who’ve previously travelled with the wind collective. A few I had travelled with to Colombia but most were new faces who quickly became friends and this is what I love the most about travel!
The beauty of the French Riviera is the time spent outdoors so this blog post looks at best spots we found to do this. We rented 4 cars from the airport (booked online) for our group and I was one of the drivers (and the only female one). As someone who’s never driven “on the other side of the road” before, I was really nervous and had spent the weekend before googling the French road rules! But it worked out fine and I challenge who hasn’t driven abroad before to do so at least once.
Whilst in town, the Old Port in Marseille (Vieux Port) is the perfect place to go for a stroll. Here we spent time daydreaming about our future boats by Fort St Jean, watching street entertainers and exploring the cultural sites.
Top Tip : Visit MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations) which is free to enter. Go up to its roof for the most incredible view over the city – such as the cathedral, Port, Note Dame church and more.
There are many places to eat around the Port which is very scenic and slightly more expensive than the rest of town. A great alternative is Cours Julien, the artsy area which is also buzzing at night and is perfect for dining.
On the road:
Moustiers Ste Marie – Our first stop on our way to the Gorge. It’s a quaint French village which has the incredible backdrop of a mountain. Here you can indulge in the best French food and drink, markets and just enjoy the ambience of it all.
Lac de Saints Croix is a man made lake at the base of the main attraction (the Gorges). We stopped off here to chill at the beach (which is pebbly) but that can be forgiven when you see the beautiful water for swimming in!
Verdon Gorge is actually one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to! The size of it all is very impressive and even in July amongst all the other tourists, there was an air of calm. There are lots of activities to do around it but our favourite thing was hiring pedal boats to ride along the lake for €20 an hour, up to 5 people per boat.
No trip to France is complete without visiting the Lavender and sunflower fields which can be found all over..perfect for that insta shot if required!
Another incredibly beautiful place to road trip to is Cassis. Of all the places we drove to, it was the easiest one to get to and also closest to Marseille at just over an hour drive (pre toll charges which is great!). Drive into the town centre and start your hike at Port by following the trail signs. Your first stop about 25 minutes in will be Calanque de Port Pin which is a nice beach to chill in. However I recommend that you carry on the hike for another 30 or so minutes to reach Calanque D’en Vau which is perfect. The hike has challenging grounds to conquer so sensible shoes and a positive attitude to get you through it!
So that’s the lowdown on my fave outdoor places in and around Marseille. Having a car and a group of you is the ideal situation as you can get around easily, take food and drink (wine) around with you and create great vibes.
The key things to be aware of with renting a car and driving around Marseille:
– As in the rest of Europe, car hire is much more expensive for drivers under the age of 25 so consider this when choosing your driver(s)!
– Take pictures of everything and do your own checks before signing the paperwork. It’s also worth paying for the option to return your car without waiting for checks as you don’t want to be rushing for your flight after delays.
– Many of the accomodation right in the city centre won’t have access to much parking so leave the car in a paid garage during the day if you don’t need it (many close for the night so check before leaving! There’s plenty of places to park outside in the evenings)
– You will have to pay toll beyond a certain point of the Motorway so have your coins/cards in reach for this.
– Don’t forget a cooler to keep your edibles cold in the hot French sun!
Have you summered in the South of France before? Or feel inspired to do so after reading this blog?
Let me know below!