What to visit in Marseille
Updated: Aug 17
Welcome to Marseille, a city that seamlessly fuses its rich historical past with modern vibrancy. As France's second-largest city and a vital Mediterranean port, Marseille is a tapestry of cultures, stunning landscapes, and captivating attractions.
In this blog, we invite you to embark on a virtual tour through some of the most captivating places to visit in Marseille, ensuring you experience the city's essence to the fullest.
Discover with us:
What to Visit in Marseille
What not to miss?
Vieux Port (Old Port)
Starting your journey in Marseille, there's no better place than the Vieux Port. This historic harbor has been the heart of the city for over 2,600 years. The port bustles with activity, from fishermen selling their catch to locals and tourists alike strolling along the waterfront. Explore the quays, indulge in fresh seafood at local restaurants, and consider taking a boat tour to admire the city's skyline from the sea.
Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde
Perched atop a hill, the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde offers panoramic views of Marseille and its surroundings. This stunning basilica is not just a place of worship; it's a symbol of protection for sailors and fishermen. The interior is adorned with intricate mosaics, and the sweeping views from the terrace are unparalleled, making the journey up the hill well worth
Calanques National Park
Nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers will find paradise in Calanques National Park. This protected area boasts a series of dramatic rocky inlets and clear blue waters, perfect for hiking, swimming, and rock climbing. You can explore on foot or by boat, discovering hidden coves and breathtaking vistas that will leave you in awe of nature's beauty.
Le Panier District
For a taste of Marseille's bohemian spirit, head to Le Panier, the city's oldest district. Cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and charming squares create a picturesque atmosphere. The area is home to art studios, boutiques, and cozy cafes, offering a delightful mix of creativity and history.
What else to visit?
Mucem - Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations
Marseille's modern architecture meets cultural heritage at the Mucem. This museum showcases the history and cultures of the Mediterranean region through an engaging collection of artifacts, exhibitions, and interactive displays. Its distinctive building, a combination of contemporary design and historic fortifications, is a sight to behold both inside and out.
Literary enthusiasts will recognize the Château d'If from Alexandre Dumas' "The Count of Monte Cristo." This historic island fortress, located just off the coast of Marseille, offers a glimpse into the city's maritime past. Take a boat to the island, explore the prison cells, and enjoy the mesmerizing views of the Mediterranean.
La Corniche and Vallon des Auffes
Discover the charm of Marseille's coastal road, La Corniche, offering breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea. Continue to the Vallon des Auffes, a picturesque fishing village nestled between rocky cliffs. Enjoy a meal at one of the traditional seafood restaurants and take in the serene ambiance that defines Marseille's coastal charm.
How to travel there?
Traveling to Marseille is an exciting adventure that offers various options to suit your preferences and needs. Whether you're arriving by air, train, or road, here's a guide on how to travel to Marseille:
Marseille has an international airport, Marseille Provence Airport (MRS), located about 27 kilometers (17 miles) northwest of the city center. This airport serves both domestic and international flights, making it a convenient option for travelers from around the world.
Marseille is well-connected to France's extensive high-speed train network, making train travel a convenient and scenic option.
If you prefer the flexibility of driving, you can reach Marseille by car via well-maintained highways.
Long-distance buses provide an economical way to reach Marseille from various cities in France and neighboring countries.
When to travel there?
The best time to travel to Marseille largely depends on your preferences and the type of experience you're seeking. Marseille enjoys a Mediterranean climate, which means it experiences mild winters and warm to hot summers. Here's a breakdown of the different seasons to help you decide when to plan your trip:
Spring (March to May)
Spring is considered one of the best times to visit Marseille. The weather is mild and comfortable, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F). This is a great time for outdoor activities, sightseeing, and enjoying the city's attractions without the peak summer crowds. The Mediterranean landscapes are in full bloom, and you can explore the Calanques and other natural areas comfortably.
Summer (June to August)
Summer is the peak tourist season in Marseille, thanks to the warm and sunny weather. Temperatures can range from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F) and even higher at times. This is when the beaches, cafes, and outdoor festivals come alive. However, keep in mind that popular attractions can get crowded, and accommodations might be pricier. If you're a beach lover and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of summer, this is the time to visit.
Autumn (September to November)
Autumn is another favorable time to visit Marseille. The weather remains pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). The summer crowds start to thin out, and you can enjoy a more relaxed experience while exploring the city's attractions. The sea is still warm enough for swimming in September, and you'll find local markets brimming with seasonal produce.
Winter (December to February)
Winter in Marseille is mild compared to many other parts of Europe, but it's the least popular time for tourism. Temperatures range from 5°C to 15°C (41°F to 59°F), and occasional rain is common. While you might not experience the warm beach days, this season offers a quieter and more local ambiance. It's a good time to explore museums, indulge in cozy cafes, and experience the city's cultural side without the crowds.
The average costs of traveling to Marseille can vary based on factors such as your travel style, accommodation preferences, dining choices, and planned activities. Keep in mind that these estimates are based on average prices and can fluctuate over time. Here's a general breakdown of potential expenses:
Budget Hostels or Budget Hotels: €30 - €70 per night
Mid-Range Hotels: €80 - €150 per night
Luxury Hotels: €200 and above per night
Food and Dining:
Budget Meals: €10 - €15 for a basic meal at a café or fast-food restaurant
Mid-Range Dining: €20 - €40 for a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant
Fine Dining: €50 and above for upscale dining experiences
Public Transportation: €1.50 - €2 for a single metro or bus ride
Taxi: Starting fare of around €3.50, with additional charges per kilometer
Car Rental: €40 - €80 per day for a basic car rental, excluding fuel
Activities and Sightseeing:
Entry to Museums and Attractions: €5 - €15 per person
Boat Tours or Excursions: €20 - €50 or more, depending on the tour
Outdoor Activities (e.g., hiking, water sports): Costs can vary widely; check with providers for specific pricing
Tips and Service Charges: Tipping is not mandatory, but rounding up the bill or leaving a small tip (5-10%) is appreciated in restaurants.
Souvenirs and Shopping: Costs depend on your purchases, but budgeting around €20 - €50 for souvenirs and small items is reasonable.
Where to eat?
Marseille's vibrant culinary scene is a true reflection of its rich cultural tapestry, offering a delightful array of restaurants that capture the essence of the city. From charming bistros tucked within Le Panier's cobbled streets to seaside establishments with panoramic views of the Mediterranean, each eatery tells a story through its menu. Here are eight recommended places to eat in Marseille, each known for its unique cuisine and ambiance:
Nestled at the Vallon des Auffes, Chez Fonfon is renowned for its Bouillabaisse, a traditional Marseille fish stew. This charming restaurant serves up a delightful seafood experience in a picturesque setting, allowing you to savor the flavors of the Mediterranean while surrounded by the authenticity of Marseille's fishing heritage.
Perched along the coastline with panoramic views of the sea, L'Épuisette offers a refined dining experience with a focus on fresh seafood. With a menu inspired by local catch, the restaurant presents creative dishes that pay homage to Marseille's maritime identity, ensuring every bite is a celebration of coastal flavors.
Le Petit Nice Passedat
With three Michelin stars, Le Petit Nice Passedat is a culinary gem overlooking the Mediterranean. Chef Gérald Passedat presents a modern interpretation of Provençal cuisine, highlighting the finest local ingredients. Immerse yourself in the artistry of taste, texture, and presentation in an elegant ambiance that celebrates the region's culinary heritage.
In the heart of the Old Port, La Cantinetta is a traditional trattoria offering Italian delights. Beyond Marseille's borders, this restaurant transports you to Italy with its authentic pasta dishes, wood-fired pizzas, and warm, inviting atmosphere that welcomes diners to savor the comforts of Mediterranean cuisine.
La Boîte à Sardine
A true hidden gem, La Boîte à Sardine focuses on—you guessed it—sardines. This small restaurant takes pride in elevating this humble fish to new heights, serving it in inventive ways that honor Marseille's relationship with the sea. Expect a cozy and convivial atmosphere that captures the essence of the local dining scene.
Situated in the lively district of Cours Julien, La Ciergerie is an authentic Mediterranean restaurant for ever food lover. The restaurant also serve vegan and vegetarian meals, which are also some of our the most popular items on the menu!
Le Four des Navettes
Dive into tradition with a visit to Le Four des Navettes, the oldest bakery in Marseille, dating back to 1781. Famous for its Navettes, boat-shaped cookies infused with flavors like orange blossom and anise, this bakery encapsulates Marseille's heritage in each sweet bite, making it a must-visit for those seeking a taste of history.
Café de l'Abbaye
Located near the Abbaye Saint-Victor, this charming café captures the essence of Provençal life. Enjoy a leisurely meal on the terrace, surrounded by lush greenery, while relishing regional dishes like ratatouille and tapenade. Café de l'Abbaye offers a tranquil escape in the heart of the city, where you can savor traditional flavors in a serene setting.
Marseille is a city that pulses with life and hosts a wide range of events throughout the year, catering to diverse interests and tastes. From cultural festivals to sports events, here are some notable events you can experience in Marseille:
Marseille Jazz Festival (July)
Music enthusiasts flock to this annual festival that celebrates the timeless allure of jazz. With performances held at various venues across the city, including historic sites and open-air stages, the Marseille Jazz Festival brings together international and local artists, creating a harmonious blend of melodies.
Marseille International Documentary Film Festival (March)
Known as FIDMarseille, this renowned film festival focuses on documentary cinema, showcasing thought-provoking and innovative works. Filmmakers and cinephiles gather to explore powerful narratives from around the world through the lens of reality.
Marseille International Film Festival (July)
Celebrating cinematic artistry, this festival showcases a curated selection of international films. From indie gems to blockbuster premieres, the Marseille International Film Festival provides a platform for filmmakers to connect with audiences and fellow creatives.
Delta Festival (August)
The Delta Festival, held in August, is a vibrant and eagerly anticipated event that takes place in Marseille, France. This outdoor festival celebrates music, arts, and culture in a picturesque coastal setting. With its captivating blend of live performances, electronic music, art installations, and various recreational activities, the Delta Festival offers attendees an immersive experience that transcends traditional boundaries. From renowned DJs and musical acts to interactive art displays and gastronomic delights, the festival creates a dynamic atmosphere that resonates with both locals and visitors alike. Against the backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea, the Delta Festival serves as a testament to the city's creative spirit and its ability to bring together diverse forms of artistic expression in a joyous and unifying celebration.
Marsatac Festival (September)
Marsatac Festival is an annual music and arts event that traditionally takes place in Marseille, France. Known for its eclectic lineup and vibrant atmosphere, Marsatac showcases a diverse range of musical genres, including electronic, hip-hop, pop, and more. The festival often features performances by both established and emerging artists, drawing music enthusiasts from various backgrounds.
Aside from music, Marsatac also embraces contemporary art, multimedia installations, and interactive experiences. This blend of music and visual arts creates a dynamic and immersive environment that engages festivalgoers on multiple levels. The festival typically attracts a diverse crowd, fostering a sense of unity and shared appreciation for creativity and cultural exploration.
However, specific dates can vary from year to year. To find the exact dates for the current year's Marsatac Festival, I recommend checking the official website of the festival or other reliable event sources for the most up-to-date information.
Marseille-Cassis Race (October)
Sports enthusiasts can take part in or witness the Marseille-Cassis Race, an annual 20-kilometer run that leads participants from Marseille to the picturesque village of Cassis. The route showcases stunning coastal scenery and provides an exhilarating physical challenge.
le Bon Air (Summer Months)
"Le Bon Air" is an annual music festival that takes place in Marseille, France. It is known for its focus on electronic music, featuring a lineup of DJs and electronic artists from various genres. The festival aims to create a unique and immersive experience for attendees by combining music, art installations, and a vibrant atmosphere.
The event typically showcases both local and international talents, contributing to the city's dynamic cultural scene. "Le Bon Air" often highlights emerging artists in the electronic music world, offering a platform for innovation and creativity.
The exact month can vary from year to year. To find out the specific month and dates for the current year's "Le Bon Air" festival, I recommend visiting the official website of the festival or checking reputable event listings for the most up-to-date information.
Christmas Markets (Late November or early December)
Marseille, like many other cities, often hosts Christmas markets during the holiday season. These markets are festive gatherings where you can find a variety of seasonal goods, crafts, decorations, food, and more. They usually create a joyful atmosphere and are a great way to get into the holiday spirit.
In Marseille, the Christmas markets typically open in late November or early December and run until Christmas or New Year's. These markets can be found in various locations around the city, such as the Vieux-Port (Old Port), the Cours Julien area, and other central squares.
We've reached the end of the article What to visit in Marseille. This city has a fantastic atmosphere, and we believe you will love it as much as we did! In the meantime, you can read other articles on our website. Remember to follow us @thewalkingparrot to be continuously updated on the new releases. We will be back soon with a new article!
* For more informations about your trip to Marseille you can visit Marseille Tourism Website