19 Best Places And Things To Do in Istres, France

Istres is a charming city located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of southern France. Nestled between the cities of Marseille and Aix-en-Provence, Istres offers a perfect blend of historical sites, natural beauty, and cultural experiences. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Istres:

1. Old Town (Vieil Istres)

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Start your exploration of Istres in the Old Town, where you can wander through narrow streets lined with colorful houses and quaint shops. Admire the traditional Provençal architecture and soak in the relaxed atmosphere of this charming area.

2. Étang de l’Olivier

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The Étang de l’Olivier is a stunning lake located in the heart of Istres. Take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade, enjoy a picnic in one of the lakeside parks, or rent a paddleboat to explore the calm waters. The lake also hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year.

3. Saint-Sulpice Church

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Visit the Saint-Sulpice Church, a beautiful Romanesque-style church that dates back to the 12th century. Admire its impressive bell tower and intricate stained glass windows. The church also hosts occasional concerts and art exhibitions.

4. Parc de l’Évêché

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This picturesque park offers a peaceful retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle. Enjoy a leisurely walk amidst lush greenery, relax on the benches, or have a picnic surrounded by beautiful landscapes. The park is also known for its panoramic views of Istres and the surrounding countryside.

5. Les Remparts

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Take a stroll along the ramparts that surround the Old Town. These ancient fortifications provide a glimpse into Istres’ rich history and offer scenic views of the city and its surroundings.

6. Festivals and Events

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Istres hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, offering a lively cultural experience. The “Féria d’Istres” is a popular festival celebrating Provençal traditions, with bullfighting, music, and dance performances. The “Nuits d’Istres” is a music festival that brings renowned national and international artists to the city.

7. Beaches

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While Istres is not directly located on the coast, it is within driving distance of beautiful Mediterranean beaches. Visit nearby coastal towns like Martigues or Carry-le-Rouet to enjoy sandy shores, crystal-clear waters, and water sports activities.

8. Gastronomy

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Indulge in the delicious flavors of Provençal cuisine in Istres. Explore local restaurants and cafes to savor regional specialties like bouillabaisse (fish stew), ratatouille (vegetable dish), and pastis (anise-flavored liqueur). Don’t forget to try the delectable local olive oil, renowned for its quality.

9. Outdoor Activities

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Istres is surrounded by natural beauty, offering opportunities for outdoor activities. Explore the nearby regional parks, such as the Camargue Regional Nature Park or the Alpilles Natural Regional Park, for hiking, biking, and birdwatching.

10. Istres Sports

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Sports enthusiasts will find plenty to do in Istres. The city is known for its sports facilities and hosts various sporting events throughout the year. Istres Sports Club offers a range of activities including football, rugby, basketball, handball, and swimming. You can catch a local match or even participate in sports activities yourself.

11. Corniche du Jaï

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For outdoor enthusiasts, a visit to the Corniche du Jaï is a must. This beautiful coastal path stretches along the Mediterranean Sea and offers breathtaking views of the rugged coastline. Enjoy a leisurely walk or bike ride along the trail, taking in the fresh sea breeze and admiring the stunning scenery.

12. Miramas-le-Vieux

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Just a short drive from Istres, you’ll find the charming village of Miramas-le-Vieux. Perched on a hilltop, this medieval village offers a glimpse into the region’s history. Explore the narrow streets, visit the ancient castle ruins, and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

13. Wine Tasting

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Istres is located in the heart of the Provence wine region, known for its exceptional rosé wines. Take a short drive to the nearby vineyards and indulge in wine tasting experiences. Learn about the winemaking process, sample a variety of wines, and perhaps even bring home a bottle or two as souvenirs.

14. Aix-en-Provence and Marseille

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Istres is conveniently located between two vibrant cities, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille. Take a day trip to Aix-en-Provence to explore its charming old town, visit art museums like the Musée Granet, and enjoy the lively café culture. Alternatively, head to Marseille to experience the bustling Vieux Port (Old Port), wander through the historic Le Panier district, and visit iconic attractions like the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica.

15. Water Activities

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Istres offers opportunities for various water activities. Head to the nearby beaches for swimming, sunbathing, or trying your hand at water sports such as windsurfing, kiteboarding, or paddleboarding. The coastal areas around Istres are known for their clear waters and provide a perfect setting for aquatic adventures.

16. Local Markets

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Immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture by visiting the markets in Istres. The weekly market, held on Tuesdays and Fridays, offers an array of fresh produce, local delicacies, and artisanal products. Stroll through the stalls, interact with friendly vendors, and indulge in the flavors of Provence.

17. Day Trips to Camargue

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Istres serves as an ideal base for exploring the stunning Camargue region. Embark on a day trip to Camargue to discover its unique natural landscapes, including marshes, lagoons, and vast salt flats. Look out for the famous wild horses, pink flamingos, and other diverse bird species that call this region home.

18. Golfing

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Golf enthusiasts can enjoy a round of golf at the Golf Club de Miramas, located just a short distance from Istres. This 18-hole course offers beautiful views of the surrounding countryside and provides a tranquil setting for golfers of all skill levels.

19. Relaxation and Wellness

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Take some time to unwind and rejuvenate in Istres. Visit one of the local spas or wellness centers, where you can indulge in massages, facials, and other therapeutic treatments. Immerse yourself in a tranquil ambiance and leave feeling refreshed and revitalized.