Located on the doorstep of Marseille Province Airport, Vitrolles is a small town in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France. It overlooks the Etang de Berre lagoon on the southwestern outskirts of Aix-en-Provence and is dominated by a soaring limestone outcrop topped by a centuries-old church.
Things to do in Vitrolles
Elevated views across the town are on offer from the Rocher de Vitrolles, a pink limestone outcrop that dates back around 65 million years. Since the 5th century, it has served as a refuge and lookout point to monitor invasions by Saracens. Climb the stairs that lead to its summit for sweeping panoramas across the Etang de Berre.
Also atop the Rocher de Vitrolles is La Chapelle Notre-Dame-De-Vie, which was constructed around a thousand years ago during the early Romanesque period. It exhibits Moorish influences in its design and houses a wooden statue of the “Virgin and Child” that is highly revered. To mark the Assumption each year, the statue is processed down the rock and through the town of Vitrolles.
Sprawling across 155 square kilometres, the Etang de Berre is one of the largest saltwater lakes in Europe. While the area around Vitrolles is heavily built up, the northwestern shores are still dominated by pine forests and agricultural fields. In the summer months, you can swim from one of several beaches that ring the Etang de Berre or cast a fishing line to lure in bream, sole and bass.
Getting around Vitrolles
Vitrolles is around 25 minutes’ drive from the centre of Marseille and 10 minutes from the terminal buildings of Marseille Provence Airport, which has flights to destinations across Europe and North Africa. Regular trains connect to the Vitrolles Aeroport Marseille Provence railway station and buses travel throughout Vitrolles.