South of France is just gorgeous, and you should definitely explore as much as you can. Check out these amazing day trips from Aix en Provence, and pack your bags ASAP!
Aix en Provence is a picturesque Provencal city in the south of France, known to the art savvy as the birthplace of impressionist painter Paul Cezanne, but to the regular tourist as a gorgeous area that exudes charm and just the right climate (AKA tons of sunshine) to visit all year round.
Besides being a great destination to include in your South of France itinerary, though, it’s the perfect base to go on day trips and explore the charming towns, countryside, and even Roman ruins that lay around it. If you ask me, it’s one of the top things to do in Aix-en-Provence, besides enjoying the city itself!
Let’s check out the best day trips from Aix en Provence that you can take.
Lavender Fields in Provence
When you’re wondering about what day trips from Aix-en-Provence to take, a visit to the lavender fields is simply a must. I mean, we all think of France when we see pictures of those gorgeous, lush rows of purple flowers, don’t we?
Now it’s your time to snap those Instagram-worthy photos in lavender fields, and you have quite a few lovely options for your first Provence day trip.
Valensole, located to the north-east of Aix en Provence, is home to probably the most famous lavender fields ever (and you probably already saw them in countless postcards and photos!)
You can expect it to be crowded, though, because it’s the most photogenic and visited lavender destination, but it’s still so worth it. Make sure you head there early in the morning to try and avoid the masses.
The village of Sault is known as the capital of Lavender, and there’s a reason behind that! During the season it’s surrounded by lavender fields, and it hosts a feast on August 15th to celebrate them. If you’re traveling around that time, Sault ought to be the must one day trip from Aix en Provence!
Then there’s Lourmarin, situated in the Luberon massif which is one of the best day trips from Aix en Provence all year round (more on this later!) But if you’re visiting during the lavender season and want to hunt some purple fields, this is as good as any place to do so.
You can also join an Aix en Provence lavender tour to be taken to the best spots and make the trip with a guide, who will be ready to give you insights and answer your many questions.
➤ The Full-Day Lavender Tour to Valensole takes you to admire the beautiful landscape filled with a sea of purple in the Plateau of Valensole, as well as visit the site where lavender is cultivated before you drop by the many fields in bloom and explore the nearby villages. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
➤The Pays de Sault Lavender Tour starts with a trip through the Luberon National Regional Park and the Plateau of Claparèdes, where you’ll enjoy the panoramic views. Then visit Pays de Sault, where you’ll go wow at the lavender fields and have free time to wander and have lunch. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
REMEMBER: The lavender fields are in full bloom from mid-June to early August, and they display all their glory in July. If you’re traveling in any other month, you won’t get to see them!
Distance from Aix en Provence to Valensole: 43.3 miles (69.7 km)
Distance from Aix en Provence to Sault: 54 miles (86.8 km)
Distance from Aix en Provence to Lourmarin: 24.2 miles (39 km)
Cassis & Calanques du Cassis
A day trip to Cassis from Aix en Provence should also be on the top of your list. This charming town known for its calanques and picturesque port is less than an hour away, and it offers plenty of activities to enjoy.
The Calanques du Cassis are actually made up of three calanques that are part of the Calanques National Park where you can go hiking and be rewarded with the view of the azure waters that weave through the towering limestone cliffs.
A stroll along the harbor is also a must, or you can otherwise sit for lunch at one of the restaurants that face it, and then head to Plage de la Grande Mer for a dip in the sea and to sunbathe.
➤ To enjoy this fishing village to the fullest, you can book the Half-Day Tour of Cassis to explore its streets with a guide, learn all about the region’s wines and even take an optional boat ride to see the limestone cliffs from up close. There’s also a stop at Cap Canaille for amazing views and even greater photos! ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Distance from Aix en Provence: 31.8 miles (51.3 km)
Gorges du Verdon & Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
If you are seeking some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in France, I’d say the Gorges du Verdon (Verdon Canyon) is among the best Aix en Provence day trips.
Known as the deepest gorge in France and the largest canyon in Europe, this natural wonder offers an unlimited array of activities including boating and kayaking. You’ll also have the opportunity to drive the circular “corniche” route at the rim of this canyon.
For those seeking a cultural and architectural exploration, a great destination for you is Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. This village is built between two rocky slopes and is enclosed within the Verdon Regional Nature Park, so it’s a very convenient stop when you’re done exploring the Verdon Canyon (or vice versa!)
➤ The Verdon Canyon & Moustiers-Sainte-Marie Tour from Aix en Provence takes you to both locations in one day excursion. You’ll get a guided tour of L’Occitane factory, enjoy some free time at Moustiers and marvel at the lake of Sainte-Croix at Verdon Gorge. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Distance from Aix en Provence: 79.3 miles (127.7 km)
Castles in Gordes, Lacoste, Tour Aigues
Gordes, one of the most charming villages in Provence, is home to the Castle of Gordes, an important monument that was used as a warehouse, and a prison, and toward the 20th century is housed a school and its cafeteria, a bar, a town hall, and a post office.
Located right at the heart of the village, it sits on Mount Vaucluse with an overlooking view of Luberon, and today it’s home to the Pol Mara museum which you can visit.
Next up on your list of castles to visit is the Château de Lacoste, known as the jewel of Luberon. Built in the 11th century, this castle was owned by the Simiane family until the 16th century.
The chateau is open for visitors from July to August, and the admission is 15 euros for adults and 12 euros for children.
Finally, you can also make your way to see the Castle of La Tour-d’Aigues. This Renaissance castle was considered a masterpiece of its era and it’s built on the foot of the Luberon Mountains, granting amazing views.
The courtyard can be visited for free, and there’s also a ceramics museum and temporary exhibitions that can be enjoyed for an entry fee of 3.50 euros.
Distance from Aix en Provence: 50.7 miles (81.7 km)
Luberon markets and villages
No visit to Luberon is complete without going to one of its local markets (and ideally all of them). On this day trip from Aix en Provence, you’ll get an immersion in the villages of the area so you can get a glimpse of how locals live their day-to-day lives, and explore the colorful houses and the chaotic yet lively markets.
Some of the markets are seasonal, but many others open throughout the year, so there’s one to be visited every single day. From farmers’ markets to flea markets, and every one in between, you’ll be able to buy fresh seafood, clothes, bakery goods, and flowers, among tons of other things.
➤The Luberon Market & Villages Day Tour allows you to explore the vibrant village markets that boast an overwhelming array of produce and regional specialties, and stroll around the surrounding villages as you learn about their history and tradition. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Distance from Aix en Provence: 35 miles (56.3 km)
Arles is a UNESCO-listed town, considered the best example of an ancient French city.
It is an incredibly popular day trip from Aix en Provence France for those seeking to witness beautifully preserved Roman monuments and historical ruins.
This coastal city is particularly known for having been the home of Vincent Van Gogh, where he lived for a little over a year, worked alongside Paul Gauguin and cut part of his left year. He created almost 300 paintings and drawings while in Arles, and you can visit the Fondation Van Gogh to learn all about his time in the city.
Saint-Remy and Les Baux de Provence are closeby, so you should also visit these communes when you head to Arles!
➤ The Arles, Les Baux & Saint-Remy de Provence Tour takes you to numerous attractions in Arles, to the monastery where Van Gogh was treated as a psychiatric patient as you follow his trail, and to see the Roman ruins at the Arles Amphitheater, as well as visiting the villages of Les Beaux and Saint-Remy. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Distance from Aix en Provence: 49.8 miles (80.3 km)
Ochre Trail in Roussillon
The Ochre Trail in Roussillon is surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, and it makes for a truly enjoyable hike as you walk through the ochre-colored cliffs and marvel at their wavy shapes and the deep canyons, which provide a beautiful contrast against the green foliage that surrounds it
This activity is high on most tourists’ to-do lists in Provence and you’ll be rewarded with some of the best natural sights you’ve laid your eyes on.
Distance from Aix en Provence: 37 miles (59.8 km)
Wineries in Cezanne Country
One of the unmissable day trips from Aux en Provence by train, by bus, or by tour (unless you manage to find a designated driver) is to Cezanne Country, also known as wine paradise. No visit to the south of France would be complete without a taste of the region’s world-renowned wines, after all.
Cezanne Country, indeed named after the Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne, who lived in Provence, is where you’ll find several wineries where you can taste delicious wine, learn about the winemaking process, and take a bottle with you as a souvenir.
➤ The Wine Tour in Cezanne Countryside takes you through the scenic landscape which inspired many of Cezanne’s paintings, about whose life you’ll learn during this trip. You’ll continue to the Sainte-Victoire vineyards, where you’ll tour the wineries, sip the top-quality wines and be closer to becoming a wine connoisseur. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Distance from Aix en Provence: 12 miles (19 km)
Camargue is a Regional Nature Park home to dramatic mountain scenery and a range of outdoor activities; a perfect destination for adventurers!
This natural region is a thriving ecosystem surrounded by marshes and vegetation, home to the Camargue horses, bulls, flamingos, and all sorts of bird species, and which you can explore on a safari.
Camargue covers 85 thousand hectares and it’s located right south of Arles, so this city is the best departing point to visit the park.
Unless you’re driving, the fastest way to get to Arles from Aix en Provence is by train. The journey takes close to 2 hours and costs around 25 euros.
➤ The Half-Day 4×4 Camargue Safari departs from Arles and guides you through the Regional Park to meet the wildlife, as you learn interesting facts about the area, marvel at the unique ecosystem of wetlands and river deltas, and even make a quick stop in the village Saintes Maries de la Mer. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Distance from Aix en Provence: 59.6 miles (96 km)
Mont Sainte-Victoire, located near the home of Paul Cezanne in Aix en Provence, was the source of inspiration for many of his paintings, and it’s a popular day trip among art lovers, students and artists even more than for its natural beauty (try looking up Mont Sainte-Victorie on Google and you’ll see what I mean!)
The mountain has been painted by Cezanne more than 60 times, and it’s believed to have been his favorite subject, which you’ll get to admire from up close. Supposedly, the painter was fascinated by its rugged forms and painted it from a variety of angles.
He also introduced a technique known as “flat depth” in order to create a spatial effect that would translate the unusual geological forms of the mountain. Talk about commitment to the subject!
Distance from Aix en Provence: 10 miles (16.4 km)
Can you even say you were in southern France if you didn’t go to Marseille?
Marseille is essentially an old city with a lot of charm, boasting plenty of things that could keep you hooked for days. One day, though, is enough to get a feel for the town and explore its main attractions, and that’s why it makes a great day tour from Aix en Provence.
The Old Port, the Cathédrale and the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, the colorful streets of Le Panier, the national park Massif des Calanques and the fortress Chateau d’If are among the top places to visit while in town, and you can always take a scenic boat tour or shop at La Joliette.
➤ The Must-See Marseille is a half-day trip to the city’s highlights, including the Old Port, the fishing area of Vallon des Auffes, the Basilique and the Palais Longchamp, home to the Musée of fine arts and the museum of natural history. A knowledgeable guide will be ready to answer all your questions. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Distance from Aix en Provence: 21 miles (34 km)
French Riviera (Monaco, Eze, Nice)
If Marseille is iconic, the French Riviera doesn’t even need an introduction (which you’re gonna get anyway!) This holiday maker’s dream destination is known for its glamorous beach resorts and coastal villages, and while it was once limited to the aristocrats, today is a well-known summer hotspot for anyone ready to relax on the coast of the Mediterranean.
A trip around the French Riviera is indeed one of the best road trips in Europe you can go on!
Along the French Riviera the cities of Nice, Eze, Monaco, Cannes, and St Tropez certainly stand out as the hottest locations (almost as much for their presence in the Hollywood scenario than for their natural beauty) so you shouldn’t skip them on your trip to the area!
➤ The Private French Riviera Half-Day Tour allows you and your group of up to 8 people to choose your own itinerary, so you get to decide how long to stay in Nice, where to hunt for celebrities at St. Tropez, and how many thousands of photos you need in each destination. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Distance from Aix en Provence: 122 miles (196 km)
Avignon is one of the famed cities in the Provencal region of France. It’s set next to the Rhone River and boasts of rich culture and history, as evidenced by the large number of medieval ruins and the Palais de Papes (Pope’s Palace), an impressive building which was the seat of Catholicism during the 14th century.
The palace can be visited, along with museums, cathedrals, and other outdoor landmarks in the city.
➤ The Provence Full-Day Tour is a great way to get a first glimpse of the region and explore the most beloved towns, including Avignon and its main attractions, as well as Les Baux, Pont du Gard, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape for some winetasting! ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Distance from Aix en Provence: 56 miles (91 km)
The historic town of Roussillon is equally stunning and known for its rich ochre deposit (remember the ochre trail? This is where you’ll get to hike it!) Even some of the houses are ochre-colored, and their vibrant colors really contrast that of the sky and surrounding vegetation, making it a very lively and unique town.
➤ Join the Luberon Market & Villages Day Tour which includes a visit to Roussillon, where you’ll get to witness its colorful houses and, if you choose to take the tour on Thursday, also explore its weekly market. ➥ BOOK IT HERE
Distance from Aix en Provence: 56.5 miles (91 km)
As you can see, Aix en Provence is surrounded by absolutely gorgeous cities, villages and coastal hotspots that could keep you busy for entire weeks.
Depending on the season you’ll be inclined to favor ones over the others, and while you might be tempted to take all the day trips from Aix en Provence, don’t forget to explore this city as well!
What’s certain is that you won’t regret taking a single one of these day trips, and you’ll likely will start planning your next trip to explore the rest!