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  Villages /  Istres

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• Bouches-du-Rhône (13800)   • Population: 35,163  • Altitude: 20 m

Gallery of 5 photos for Istres

This old maritime town at the northwest corner of the Etang de Berre (Berre Lagoon) is centered around the fortified church Eglise Notre Dame de Beauvoir at the top of the hill. Interesting little streets wind up the hillside from the center, with shady little squares along the way. Most of the old houses are painted with the lovely Provencal pastels and contrasting trim and shutters, with some restored bare stone buildings and walls. The view from the top [photo-2] is across the old tile roofs of the town and the low hills across the blue water of the Etang de L'Olivier. • Market day Tue.

Istres is a nice town and a pleasant town, but not too exciting when we were there (during school holidays in october). Summertime is very active, however, with the Theatre de l'Olivier the center of festivals of dance, music and theater.

At the north edge of town, a lovely big lake-side park on a peninsula of the Etang de l'Olivier includes the hilltop site of the Oppidum du Castellan (long since gone).

History of Istres


First record, 10th century Castrum de Istrio

Prehistoric: An important prehistoric site was located at the quartier of Sulauzes, in the hills just north of the Etang de l'Olivier, with stone-age tools and animal bones.

Celto-Ligurian: The Gallo-Ligurian hilltop Oppidum du Castellan was a trove of pottery, coins, inscriptions, furniture and tombs, with the Oppidum du Castellan remaining active well into the Gallo-Roman era.

Medieval: The medieval town built up around the fortified chateau on top of the hill, first under the rule of the house of Baux and later the princes of Martigues.


Market day: Tue.

Apr - Fête St-Etienne
June - Feria et Fete de la St Etienne - animations, fetes, fireworks, garçons de café, etc - Centre Ville
Dec - Fête des Bergers - folklorique events, sheepdog trials, transhumant troupeau


• GPS: 43.512673, 4.987766


IGN (1/25,000) #3144 ouest "Martigues, Etang de Berre"

IGN Verte (1/100,000) #66 "Avignon, Montpellier"; #67 Marseille, Carpentras

This is not hiking country; much better for water sports and other activities. The nearest nature walks would probably be from Miramas, Martigues or in the Camargue. The Office de Tourisme does have, however, a list of several walking tours (sentiers de randonnées).


We didn't find any touristic center of restaurants near the old town, but there is a collection of terrace cafés on the Allées Jean Jaures, near the Arch and across from the Office de Tourisme (where you can get a list of restaurants and hotels).

We lunched at the restaurant of the Hotel de France on ave Hélène Boucher; a correct little restaurant familial.

Fun - Amusement - Kids

Pyramide, La

Aquatic Part "The Lagoon", water chutes, "tidal wave" swimming pool.
•   Location: Rue de l'Equerre
•   Tel: 0442 569 999


Musée d'Istres - René Beaucaire

Paleontology, prehistory (with the 8000-BC Cornille shelter and the 4000-BC Mouvin site), underwater archaeology, 19th-c industry.

Place de Puits Neuf

Tel: (33) 442 55 90 15; Fax: (33) 442 55 50 08

Open: Mon-Sat; June-Sept 14h-19h; Oct-May 14h-18h

Théâtre de l'Olivier

Bd Léon Blum

Tel: (33) 442 55 24 77; Fax: (33) 442 56 95 36

Reservations: (33) 442 56 48 48

Transportation Istres


A regional train service (TER) running between Miramas and Marseilles-St-Charles, includes stops at:
St-Chamas, Berre, Rognac, Vitrolles, Pas-des-Lanciers, Istres, Rassuen, Fos-sur-Mer, Port-de-Bouc, Crois-Sainte, Martigues, Ponteau-st-Pierre, La Couronne, Sausset-le-Pins, Carry-le-Rouet, La Redonne-Ensuès, Niolon, L'Estaque, Séon-St-Henry, St-Louis-les-Aygalades, Le Canet, St-Barthélemy.

From Miramas on the Marseilles-Paris rail line you can connect to:
Marseilles, Arles, Tarascon-sur-Rhône, Nimes, Clermont-Ferrand, Paris.


A Regional bus line serves:
Marseilles, Aix-en-Provence, Saint Cannat, Lambesc, Pélissanne, Salon-de-Provence, Miramas, Istres, Fos-sur-Mer, Port de Bouc, Croix Sainte, Martigues.

Department 13, Bouches-du-Rhône Buses

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