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 the town of Salon-de-Provence, its historic heritage and industrial past.
Located 50km from Marseille, the town of Salon-de-Provence shares something with the big city: soap. Salon has produced soap since the 19th century. A part of the town has been built thanks to this industry and two « savonneries » (soap factories) are still working there. Landmarks, statues, fountains, the town’s historic heritage is also very important. Discover Salon-de-Provence history and its different activities.
Discover Salon-de-Provence heritage
There are many famous landmarks in Salon: the « Château de l’Empéri » (Empéri Castle), a perfect example of castle architecture (13th to 15th century), which is now a museum ; Saint-Michel church built at the bottom of the castle in the 13th century ; « la porte de l’Horloge » (the Clock’s Door) built in the 17th century as a symbol of the town’s entry into the modern age.
Wandering through Salon-de-Provence streets
You can count seven fountains and eight statues when you walk in the narrow streets of Salon. There are also a few « curiosités » that make the unique charm of Salon, like Nostradamus fresco, in honour of this scientist who spent the last twenty years of his existence in Salon, the « Patrouille de France » roundabout where lies an old « Fouga Magister » school plane, or the band shell of the «place des Martyrs de la Résistance ».
Visit the soap makers quarter and its two « savonneries »
Using its olives industry (cultivation and trade) Salon-de-Provence started making Marseille soap in the 19th Century. With its important resources in olives, the progressive production mechanization and the first railway in 1871, the town became one of the mains local trade centres of oils and soaps.
Soap factories were built around the city with many luxurious houses that testify the wealth of this industrial bourgeoisie. You can admire these gorgeous villas from the outside and visit the two soap factories left.
Most of the villas are located on boulevard Nostradamus and boulevard de la République. You can not access the buildings at anytime.
Take a walk in the countryside of Salon
For those who would like a bit of exercise, “le Massif du Tallagard” (Tallagard massif”) counts four walking and biking trails in a countryside typical of Provence: Aleppo pines forest, oak, olive trees, garrigue, broom, wild thyme and rosemary. Every path offers a surprise: « bories » (huts made of dry stones), « bancau » (small walls of dry stones used to create terrace cultivation), oratory, sheepfolds etc. The hill’s top offers a breathtaking view on « les Alpilles », « la plaine de la Crau », Berre’s pond and even the Méditerranée ! An orientation table is there to guide you.
If you want to walk in more « exotic » surroundings, go to the great farming plains of « La Crau Verte » or « Coussouls ».
Learn about Salon and « la Patrouille de France » story
The Patrouille de France and the air army aerobatics team live and exercise in Salon-de-Provence. Unfortunately the military base, called « base 701 », is not open to public visits. Nevertheless, between October and April you can see the Patrouille de France exercising in the sky once or twice a day.