Home » Special tours » Hiking in the cities outskirts : Avignon, Nice, Aix and Marseille

Short hiking trips in the cities outskirts : Avignon, Nice, Aix and Marseille

 

In the vicinity of Avignon :
strolling on the hills along the Rhône River

 

This gentle hike leads you uphill above the town of Villeneuve les Avignon, facing the Palais des Papes in Avignon, on the other bank of the Rhône, second longest river flowing through France. During this nature walk, you will stroll through pine groves, garrigue scrubland and pass by one or two dairy goat farms. On a bend, the landscape opens and you see Mont Ventoux and the Dentelles de Montmirail in the distance. But the best views are over the river, especially the ones from the Château Pointu built on a cliff towering the Rhône valley : you can admire the river and the Ile des Papes at your feet, the Fort St André in Villeneuve les Avignon, and can make out a little farther the towers of the Palais des Papes. An easy and pleasant hike to get some fresh air just outside Avignon.


Walking time
 : 2.5 hours
Rating : easy

 

 

 

 

Facing the hill of Mont Boron in Nice:
the lovely peninsula of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat

 

Once fishing port, St Jean Cap Ferrat is today a quiet seaside resort very quickly accessible from the city of Nice. This coastal walking path around its peninsula is a short and pleasant getaway from the bustle of the French Riviera towns and cities. Walking all the way as closely as possible to the sea, under the leading of your local guide, you will marvel at the beauties that Mother Nature has created for us: the sublime contrasts between the blues of the sea and sky, the whites of the rocks and the greens of the Aleppo pines and garrigue shrubs. And if you are lucky enough to come between March and June, you will see, during this nature walk, thousands of beautiful flowers of varied colors : pink, blue, purple, white, red and yellow.

 

Walking time : 2.5 hours
Rating : leisurely

 

 

 

  In the outskirts of Aix en Provence :
the val de l’Arc and Montaiguet hills

 

Starting at the gates of the town, this half-day hike allows you to explore two contrasted landscapes : the green and shady banks ot the Arc river that passes through the southern districts, and the dry and open Montaiguet hills rising above. During your short walk along the river, where nature is still present, a stone’s throw from Aix-en-Provence, you can immerse yourself into a countryside atmosphere. You pass between two of the forty monumental piers of the famous railway viaduct, the Arc de Meyran ; this semi-circular arch bridge was painted seventeen times by Cézanne. Leaving the river banks, you then head towards the foot of the Montaiguet hills.  The gentle climb up there will give you access to some great views of the Aix countryside and Mont Sainte Victoire.

 

Walking time : 3 hours
Rating : leisurely 

 

 

 

 

Marseille’s wild backyard : a balcony
over the southern districts and the large bay

 

With your local guide, you start from the Pointe Rouge quarter, which is located to the south of the sea-front, a 20-minute drive from the city center. This hike then leads you within a good hour’s walk up to the top of a rocky escarpment, where you are surrounded by a pine grove and white cliffs. Rising to 263 meters (863 feet), this rock offers from this height a great panorama over southern districts and over Marseille Bay, with the Frioul islands in the middle. You will be standing up there in the foothills of Marseilleveyre, the low, rocky mountains of Marseille, and will enjoy on your left the view of their white limestone cliffs and peaks above your head. A beautiful scenery offered by a short trip, not difficult and of good access from downtown.

 

Walking time : 2.5 hours 
Rating : leisurely

 

 

 

The Frioul archipelago :
peace and beauty, just in front of bustling Marseille

 

After jumping on a boat, you can travel from downtown Marseille to the Frioul archipelago within 20 minutes. Once landed, you explore the two largest islands, Ratonneau and Pomègues, that offer an outstanding heritage, both natural and cultural. Located in the Calanques National Park, they are genuine and wild. And their microclimate make vegetation so characteristic and the local flora very specific : many plants that live there do not exist in other parts of the world, except on the stretch of coastline to the east of the Marseille Bay. Moreover, the islands, as well as the Riou archipelago, 7km to the south-east, are considered as a major European site regarding the reproduction of seabirds. 5 species are remarkable, among which the European Shag and the Yelkouan Shearwater. During this hike, your local guide also interprets the Frioul Islands‘ human legacy. And this cultural heritage is both military (two ruined forts and numerous batteries of cannons) and sanitary (a two-century-old hospital, partly restored). There was indeed a time when Pomègues and Ratonneau were the quarantine islands for France in the Mediterranean. 


Walking time
: 3.5 hours 
Rating : leisurely

This hike is considered as a full day tour.

 

 

 

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