There are many beautiful villages, towns and cities in the area surrounding Villa Eline. You can make all-day excursions to visit them, pop around for a spot of shopping, or visit in the evening to look at the life and eat at a local restaurant. Whatever you choose, we are sure you will appreciate these wonderful places as much as we do.
Below is a list of local places to visit.
Ceyreste is a charming little village with a population of about approximately 3000, although the number of people who live in the village proper is considerably smaller. Consequently, the village is quiet and drowsy, and exudes a true French appeal. Here you will find all the shops you need to fill your fridge and cupboards as well as a bank and a post office, a couple of hairdressers, a pharmacy and a wine “cave”. Ceyreste has three bars, ‘always’ open, where you may enjoy a coffee in the morning or a glass of something later on, while watching the village life of people, cats and dogs taking place in front of you. Take a look at Ceyreste’s medieval church, hidden away in the middle of the village, or just take a walk to discover the many ‘cabarottes’ linking roads and open places together. Check website.
La Ciotat is just a stone’s throw away and has a lot to offer; from beaches and the life and business taking place alongside them, via the botanical garden, to the old port with its fishing boats, restaurants and bars – and during the summer season, a daily market with stalls all along the old port from 8 pm till around midnight. The traditional weekly market is on Tuesday mornings, and fills the roads of the town like a labyrinth – definitely worth a visit, just don’t be too late as it closes around mid-day. Of all the coastal towns in the region, La Ciotat is the least ‘touristy’ one, with a thriving industrial park probably more vital to the town’s economy than tourism. Check website.
Cassis is a charming old fishing port, now very much a tourist attraction often likened to St. Tropez. Smaller and more relaxed, the comparison is nevertheless understandable, and you could do a lot worse than spend a few hours in the port of Cassis, enjoying a good lunch as well as the beautiful view. The town also has some very nice shops if you are looking for something to bring back home. During the summer season it is highly recommended to arrive there early, as there is limited parking available. Check website.
St Cyr-sur-Mer, or St Cyr for short, some 15 minutes drive eastward, is mainly known for its beautiful beaches and Aqualand (see Things to Do). However, if you go there, have a look at the beautiful, golden Statue of Liberty in the village centre. Some say it is the original, others go for the more modest version that it is a smaller, but perfect copy of the one in New York City. Check out the website.
BANDOL and SANARY
Bandol and Sanary are two lovely coastal towns approximately 20 minutes drive eastward. In addition to beaches, restaurants and shops, Sanary boasts a zoological garden, while Bandol has its Ile de Bendor with its many artists and craftsmen, restaurants, museums and galleries. Moreover, Sanary has an interesting history, particularly in regards to its role as a refuge for artists and authors during World War II. Check websites:
LA CADIÈRE d’AZUR and LE CASTELLET
The mediaeval twin hilltop towns of La Cadière d’Azur and Le Castellet are both worth a visit. Of the two, Le Castellet is probably the most tourist-friendly, with its many good quality shops and galleries, and the fantastic view from the old castle. La Cadière will probably be somewhat less crowded, however, if your main desire is to study the architecture and just stroll along for the atmosphere. La Cadière also has one of the region’s best restaurants. Check websites:
MIMET (and ALLAUCH)
Mimet is a charming little village with a magnificent view of Mt Ste Victoire. The village is comprised primarily of one street, in which you will find a very good restaurant and the shop of a talented leatherworker. We like to visit Mimet for Sunday lunch; it’s a great place to visit to sample the atmosphere. Mimet is also a great starting point for several walking trips that offer remarkable views. For those who enjoy driving, the winding roads that take you to Mimet should provide a fun experience. This is especially true if you take the road from (or to) Allauch, which is worth a visit for its spectacular view of Marseille.
The nearby cities of Marseille, Toulon and Aix-en-Provence also have a lot to offer. We admit to not knowing Toulon very well; that does not mean, however, that the city is not worth a visit. Being more familiar with Marseille and Aix-en-Provence, we would recommend trips to both cities – for different purposes:
Go to MARSEILLE via Cassis, route D559, and Marseille will greet you as a fantastic view from the road high above. Drive along the coastline with beaches and lovely buildings into the Old Port, and you will see Marseille as a beautiful and charming city. Do not miss a trip to the basilica Notre-Dame de la Garde, worth it for the magnificent view over the city, however interested – or not – you might be in old churches. Fans of the film Love Actually will perhaps want to take a look at the places in Marseille that were featured in the film, from the arrivals entrance at Marseille Airport, via Le Bar de la Marine where Jamie proposes, to the spot where Aurélia kisses Jamie goodbye in front of Cathédrale de la Major.
Marseille, being a big city, has all the shops you can think of, yet we would rather recommend…
…AIX-EN-PROVENCE, for your shopping. We would, in fact, recommend Aix for many things – museums, galleries, restaurants, shopping… But most of all we recommend Aix for its atmosphere, its narrow roads and open places, the good feeling we get every time we visit Aix. We love Aix-en-Provence, and maybe you will, too. You will find the fantastic fountain on the roundabout marking the start of Aix’s main street Court Mirabeau. Parallel with Court Mirabeau, lined with restaurants and a couple of good book shops, is Aix’s old town, where some of the shops may close for lunch, but that just gives you the chance to slow down and perhaps enjoy your own lunch. Please note, however, that some of the shops in the old town also close on Monday afternoons. Check website.
West of the Rotonde, you will find a new shopping area where many internationally known shops have moved in. There is an underground parking named after the Rotonde, from which you enter directly into the new shopping area, and you are less than 200m from the start of Court Mirabeau.