This is Travel in Marseille Provence travel guide, a guide made by Marseille people for everyone. Here you will find out about Provence best places and travel tips. This page takes you on a journey to Istres, a town made of five ponds where nature is preponderant.

There is only about 50 km between Istres and Marseille. But when you step in the town for the first time, it’s like landing on another planet. With many parks, gardens, blooming flowers, the site is just about beauty and nature. Between land and sea, the vegetation is beautiful and luxuriant. Find out about Istres must-sees…

Take a walk in Istres emblematic quarters

Here again, the old centre is an emblematic spot. “Le Vieil Istres”, as it is called, is situated on a rocky summit, a typical site of the mediterranean rural habitat.

“Le Vieil Istres” must-see places are: The HBM buildings (affordable low income flats) on Frédéric Mistral Boulevard, an edifice of 84 flats that follows the curve of the town historic centre’s old fortification; the quarters “Les Heures Claires” (the light hours) and “Le Ranquet” and theirs “cabanons” (cabins) built at the edge of Berre’s pond ; the quarter of “Rassuen”, a true little village built around the old soda factory of the town.

Discover the heritage of Istres

Although Istres centre was renovated in 2013, it kept all its “Provençal” charm. Historic and touristic landmarks make it very popular. What you should not miss: Arles gate, which was built in the 18th century exactly where the old gate (from the fortifications ruins) used to be; the Notre Dame de Beauvoir and Sainte-Famille churches (the latter was built in 2004) ; the Saint Sulpice chapel which is now an exhibition gallery ; the water jet of l’Olivier’s pond that reaches 50 metres !

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Notre Dame de Beauvoir Church © OT Istres

Enjoy nature everywhere

The town of Istres proudly holds 4 flowers (“Villes et villages fleuris” French label), and nature’s protection is among its priority concerns. Thus the town has 11 parks and gardens where everyone can rest and enjoy the sun. It also has a Mediterranean garden, situated right next l’Olivier’s pond and Saint Sulpice chapel, presenting more than a hundred plants and bushes varieties from the Méditerannée. “ La Plaine de la Crau” on the North of Istres, ( Crau’s plain ) will satisfy the curious traveller with an astonishing wildlife. The arid steppe has its particularities like “le foin de Crau” (Crau’s hay), the only AOC labelled product that is not food!

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Mediterranean Garden © OT Istres

Enjoy nature

Its geographic location makes Istres a town of water: it has no less than five ponds! Obviously the most famous is Berre’s pond, but there is also l’Olivier’s pond with the highest water jet of the country, and Entressen, Rassuen, Ravalduc ponds. Istres also counts cosy beaches “La Romaniquette” and “Le Ranquet” with a friendly family atmosphere.

Taste the artisan beer of the Sulauze domain

Four years ago, a brewery opened on the Sulauze’s domain. Every year, Guillaume David and Julien Grontard make 15 different kinds of organic artisan beers. You can find them on site or in many wine merchants, even international ones.
Discover Made in Marseille report on this 100% organic brewery (only in French sorry!).

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Learn about Istres aeoronautic history

Istres is the historic centre of aeronautics. Right in the city is the airbase 125 Charles Monier, a site very well known all over the world. Its features, like its runway, the longest of Europe (5 000 metres), its 500 buildings and its 2 100 hectares of surface area make it really unique. The airbase is open to public during summer.

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