One of Europe’s oldest cities and France’s second largest city, Marseille is a major Mediterranean seaport located off the southeast coast of France. Offering an idyllic climate, Roman ruins, medieval architecture and distinguished cultural venues, it is not a surprise that Marseille is in the bucket lists of many travelers.
Marseille is a city full of art and culture and has many wonders to share. With its 26 centuries of history, it combines tradition and modernity.
How to get there?
By plane – Marseille-Provence International Airport is located about 30km from Marseille. Buses, taxis and now train connect in less than 30 minutes. Shuttle services from other European cities have made more places available from Marseille. Scheduled airport buses go directly from airport to the Marseille train station, and from train station to airport, for the cost of 8 Euro.
By train – The main train station is Marseille St. Charles. It is well-linked to the rest of the city, as the two subway lines and many buses stop there. It is a short walk away from the Canebière and the Old Port.
By bus – There are a lot of connections and direct buses to Marseille.
By boat – here are direct ferry routes from Marseille to Ajaccio, Bastia, Porto Torres, Porto Vecchio and Propriano.
What to do and see in Marseille?
The Old Port – This area has been the hub of activity in Marseille from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, and today it is as busy as ever.
Musée d’Histoire de Marseille – Marseille is France’s oldest city, and its rich, long history has a worthy showcase in this newly renovated museum, one of the best in town.
La Corniche – a walkway and a road by the sea that provides lovely views of the sea, the Chateau d’If to the south, and les Calanques to the east. Vallon des Auffes, small picturesque port under a viaduct, is particularly remarkable.
Palais Longchamp – the Palais Longchamp is a monument in the 4th arrondissement of Marseille, France. It houses the city’s musée des beaux-arts and natural history museum. The surrounding park is listed by the French Ministry of Culture as one of the Notable Gardens of France.
Basilique Notre- Everywhere you go in Marseille, you’ll see the golden statue of the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde. Dame de la Garde – It is bell tower is crowned by a 9.7m tall gilded statue of the Virgin Mary on a 12m high pedestal. Locals see her as the guardian of their city and call her ‘la bonne mere’ or the good mother.
Calanques National Park – The Marseillais cherish the Calanques, and come here to soak up the sun or take a long hike. The promontories have been protected since 1975 and shelter an extraordinary wealth of flora and fauna: 900 plant species, Bonelli’s eagle, and Europe’s largest lizard and longest snake.
MuCEM – The museum is devoted to European and Mediterranean civilisations. With a permanent collection charting historical and cultural cross-fertilisation in the Mediterranean basin, it takes an interdisciplinary approach to society through the ages up to modern times.
Marseille’s beaches offer pleasant Mediterranean weather, close proximity to the charm of the old port, and a range of pebbly or sandy beaches. While the beaches of Marseille may not be as beautiful as the fine white-sand beaches of other locations on the French Riviera, they can be well worth a morning or afternoon of sunbathing or swimming and diving. About twelve miles to the southeast, the Cassis beaches are a more popular destination if your goal is to lie out on the sand.
The Marseillans blend the local flavors of Provence, with the sea, and a dash of North-African spices and flavors thrown in, gives the traditional Provencal cuisine a unique and exciting twist. Fare is simple but expressed by complex hearty blends of aromatic herbs. The most famous seafood dish of Marseilles is bouillabaisse, an aromatic stew made with a fish base and a variety of fish and shellfish, and vegetables, served with rouille, and crisped toasted bread.
The best of the seafood restaurants are dotted around le Vieux Port, in particular around Quai de Rive Neuve.Its streets are lined with restaurants and cafés. In the mornings, local fishermen ply their trade in the noisy bustling fish market opposite the boats. An amble through the Le Panier district, close to the old port and popular with the locals, takes you around typical Provencal pedestrian streets lined with vivid multi-coloured buildings. Steeped in history, you will also find a good selection of restaurants offering simple traditional local fare at reasonable prices.
Marseille’s main shopping areas are in the centre and southern parts of town and cater to all tastes, from Côte D’Azur luxury and large department stores to quirky little boutiques and stores. The Centre Bourse, a massive shopping centre a stone’s throw away from the Vieux Port, is a great place for getting all your shopping done under the same roof.
South of the shopping centre is La Canebière, which is to Marseille what the Champs Elysées is to Paris. Combined with rue Ferréol, rue de Rome and rue de Paradis, they make up the major shopping area in the city and include local and national designer stores. Rue de la Tour is your best bet for serious designer luxury, including chic evening wear at Diable Noir.
Marseille is all about bar culture – whether it be sipping an aperitif at an outside table in the late evening sun, or standing around a bar chatting with friends, drinking beer and snacking on olives. The city’s cultural diversity means there is a little bit of everything in Marseille to suit all tastes. Locals really go for it, partying into the morning hours, especially during the summer.
Where to stay?
Find the best offers for an accommodation in Marseille here.