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    If you're coming to Marseille to watch football or even just for a short break, you should make time to visit some of the incredible attractions dotted around this region of southern France. From stunning coastal hikes to Roman ruins and quaint hilltop villages, a day trip from Marseille can be tailored to suit you and your team.

    Thanks to the excellent train network in this region, you can use Marseille as a base and explore the region at your own pace. Read on for our guide to interesting places to visit in Southern France – all of the destinations selected here can be visited in a single day from Marseille.

    1

    Frioul archipelago

    An island escape off the coast of Marseille

    • Couples
    • History
    • Photo
    • Adventure

    The Frioul archipelago – known locally as Iles du Frioul – is a group of 4 islands just off the coast of Marseille. The boat from Le Vieux Port takes around 20 minutes to reach and boats leave every hour. The ferry docks at Ratonneau, the largest and most popular island. There are many well-marked trails across the island, taking you from one secluded bay to the next. For nature lovers, walk across the manmade dyke to Pomègues which is more secluded. The smallest island of the 4, Chateau D'if, was the setting for much of Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo.

    Delay your journey back to Marseille until after sunset to enjoy the stunning view of the city lights from the water. In summer, the last boat leaves around 10 pm, giving you plenty of time to linger at the beachside cafes and sample some fantastic local wines.

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    2

    Calanques National Park

    Coastal walks, limestone cliffs and underwater caves

    • Families
    • Photo
    • Budget
    • Adventure

    The Calanques National Park stretches 16 km along the coast between Marseille and Cassis. The superb panoramic views, beaches, and clear blue water of the creeks hiding between high cliffs are worth a day trip. The inlets are accessible both by land and sea from the Old Harbour, and the best time to visit them is obviously summer.

    Kayaking and bicycle tours are easy to find if you prefer an active and eco-friendlier visit to this national park. The Corniche des Crêtes and Cap Canaille offer the most spectacular views. Walking the whole track takes about 3 hours. It's best to go early in the morning. Don’t forget your camera as the landscapes are spectacular.

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    3

    Arles

    Roman ruins along the Rhône River

    • History
    • Photo
    • Adventure
    • Group

    For a dose of history and adventure, the city of Arles makes a fantastic day trip from Marseille. The train from Marseille-Saint-Charles station takes around 1 hour.

    Arles Amphitheatre is a stunning Roman landmark that now hosts live performances throughout the summer. Watching a concert here will live long in the memory. Once home to Picasso, Van Gogh and Gauguin, this city has a proud connection to fine art, which can be best seen on a guided tour of the city.

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    4

    Gordes

    Panoramic views over Luberon Valley

    • Couples
    • History
    • Photo

    Gordes offers quaint views and a maze of cobblestone streets to explore. Spend the day getting lost among the fountains, courtyards, and stone houses built into the hillside. Wine lovers will find several nearby vineyards offering wine tasting from just a few euros. Among several historic sights dotted in and around Gordes is the Chateau de Gordes, an imposing castle that blends architectural styles from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance era.

    Just outside of the village is the fascinating Bories Village with its huts made entirely of dry stone. Gordes is set in the foothills of Vaucluse, about 80 km from Marseille. Unfortunately, there isn’t a direct train to the village so you'll need to rent a car. Alternatively, take the train to Cavaillon followed with a 30-minute bus ride to Gordes.

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    5

    Verdon Gorge

    The Grand Canyon of Europe

    • Photo
    • Budget
    • Adventure
    • Group

    The spectacular Verdon Gorge – known as “Gorges du Verdon” in French – offers hikers a peaceful and varied landscape of deep canyons and turquoise-blue rivers to explore. You can embark on trails leading through ancient oak forests, past abandoned churches and villages, and winding up to breathtaking viewpoints.

    One of the most popular trails is the Blanc-Martel. It runs between Point Sublime in Rougon and Châlet de la Maline. Expect to spend most of the day navigating the 14-km trail along mountainous terrain, including a few steep staircases to climb. Trails are marked for independent hikers, though guided trips are also available.

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    6

    Aix en Provence

    The birthplace of Post-Impressionist artist Cézanne

    The elegant city of Aix-en-Provence is a captivating place to wander and shop, with its thriving food, handicrafts, and flower markets set in picturesque squares and streets. It makes a beautiful couples' day trip from Marseille, which is around 18 km inland and can be reached by train in around 45 minutes.

    Start in the Old Town to explore its labyrinth of narrow streets dotted with markets, boutiques, and cafes. The finest local foods are on display at Le Grand Marche (The Big Market) that runs every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning – try locally made temptations like Cavaillon melon, goat's cheese, olives, and wine. The markets also brim with local artisan goods, including lavender soap, textiles, and earthenware.

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    7

    Monaco

    A swanky principality on the French Riviera

    • Couples
    • History
    • Photo
    • Nightlife
    • Luxury
    • Group

    The principality of Monaco is famed as a place where the rich and famous gather for a luxurious holiday on the French Riviera. Celebrities, sports stars and aristocracy all come here to relax and visit opulent landmarks like the Monaco Opera House and the Monte Carlo Casino. You can even visit a royal palace, the Palais du Prince, home of Prince Albert II of Monaco. The hilltop views are especially beautiful.

    For football fans, a visit to Stade Louis II is popular, either to watch AS Monaco play football or to tour the stadium and learn about all the sporting achievements that have taken place here. The train from Marseille's Marseille-Saint-Charles station to Monte Carlo takes around 3 hours. This is admittedly quite far for a day trip, but it can be done. You could even make it an overnight trip and experience some of Monaco's cool nightlife.

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    Paul Smith | Compulsive Traveller

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