Aix Martigue Itinerary
A loop itinerary from Aix-en-Provence, passing Martigues, Istres, Miramas and St Chamas is about 115 km and 2 hours driving time.
An Aix-en-Provence to Arles itinerary, via Martigues, Istres and the east side of the Camargue is 135 km and 2hr30 driving time.
Loop Martigues, Istres, Miramas, St Chamas, Aix-en-Provence
Complete route: 50 km, 40 min
The area between Marseille and Martigues is pretty built-up, but there are interesting villages along the south coast, and some nice places in the hills along the middle of the area.
Go south out of Aix and get on the A8/E80 autoroute westbound, and follow the signs for the A8 direction Marseille. In 3 km take the A51 direction Martigues (going south towards Marseillel). Another 16 km merge onto the A7. In 3 km exit to the A55 and continue for 23 km to exit 13a/13b for Martigues.
Martigues - Istres [16 km, 25 min]
Go north on Ave du President Allende along the shore of the Etang de Berre, that merges with the D5 to Istres. There are various sites along the way, including fortified ruins at Saint Mitre-les-Remparts.
Istres - Miramas [11 km, 18 min]
It's just a short drive north from Istres, past the Etang de l'Olivier, to the village of Miramas.
Miramas - St Chamas [6 km, 11 min]
From Miramas southeast to Saint Chamas.
St Chamas to Aix-en-Provence [40 km, 50 min]
It's under an hour's drive back to Aix-en-Provence, staying on the D10 road and not bothering with the parallel E80 autoroute.
Aix, Istres, Camargue, Arles
The route from Aix-en-Provence to Arles, via the Camargue, is 135 km, 2h30 driving time. Returning from Arles to Aix-en-Provence is 78 km, 45 min, via the E80 autoroute.
Aix-en-Provence, Martigue, Istres [65 km, 1 hour], described above.
Istres to Salin-de-Giraud [33 km, 1hr], including a ferry crossing.
Southwest from Istres on the N569, past Fos-sur-Mer towards Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône - it's all very industrial. Just outside Port-St-Louis, go northwest, following the signs for the "Bac de Barcaran", the little ferry boat that crosses the Rhone to Salin-de-Giraud.
Take the main D36 road north from Salin-de-Giraud to Arles. There are some little roads along the way for exploring the rice paddies and bird marshes of the eastern side of the Camargue.