Marseille is the oldest city in France and despite its tough and difficult character, it hides a unique soul. This peculiar city is at the same time chaotic, dirty, sparkling and intense.
Thanks to its cultural and social distance from the rest of Provence and its seafaring vocation – the fish market, for example, has a centuries-old tradition – Marseille always manages to exert an unchanged and persistent charm, despite all its contradictions.
Certainly, what makes it unique is its essence as a multi-ethnic city and immigration destination: Greeks, Romans, Jews, Armenians, Italians, Corsicans, Spaniards, pieds noirs, i.e. North Africans, Maghrebi, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Comorians, inhabitants of the Antilles, Réunion and Turks have all landed here in the 2,600 years of its history. A true melting pot that has created a city absolutely different from other French cities.
There are many reasons to fall in love with Marseille: the alleyways with their apricot, wheat and almond-coloured houses that light up at sunset, the fusion of cuisines, cultures, music and traditions, the babel of languages and different ‘mispronunciations’ of the French accent, the simple and popular character of its crowded streets.
Not to be missed is the Port of Marseille, built in a natural inlet and nestled between Fort Saint-Jean and Fort Saint-Nicholas. A pleasant pedestrian area to wander around in peace and quiet, which comes alive every morning thanks to the colourful fish market, a real institution in the city.
Without straying too far from the port area is Marseille Cathedral, tall and imposing with its black and white façade standing out against the cityscape.
A truly characteristic neighbourhood to wander around without haste is Le Panier: among the multi-ethnic shops, artisan workshops, hipster bars and charming accommodation, you can discover the true soul of Marseilles, with a thousand languages and a thousand faces, exquisitely Mediterranean and exotic.
A magnificent 5-kilometre-long promenade, known as La Corniche, starts from the harbour. It follows the coastline and is dotted with luxury hotels and excellent seafood restaurants.
With a few more hours at your disposal, you can also visit the MuCEM Museum, a true journey into the history, art and anthropology of the Mediterranean peoples with a truly impressive collection of objects, or the La Vieille Charité Church, a magnificent example of Baroque civil architecture that houses a vast museum centre, or stroll along La Canebière, a long, elegant boulevard lined with historic buildings, theatres, cafés and luxury shops.
If you are short on time, for instance because Marseille is a stop on your cruise, know that one day is enough to get an overview of the city and admire its main attractions.
For years, Marseille was considered a very dangerous city, due to pockets of poverty, delinquency and degradation in some parts of the centre. The situation has clearly improved in recent times. In fact, the experience of Marseille Capital of Culture in 2013 has brought a progressive and significant urban regeneration work, especially in the Le Panier district, as well as a reorganisation and improvement of the area of the old port of Marseille.
To get around safely in Marseille, simply take the normal precautions that one would take in any large city: be careful with luggage left unattended, keep your wallet safe and do not display valuables.
If you have time for an extra day, go as far as the Pharo gardens to admire the splendid sunset over the Vieux-Port, a particularly impressive sight.
If, on the other hand, you love crib figurines, then you can’t leave the city without visiting a santons workshop, a craft tradition that originated in Marseille in the late 18th century: these crib figurines are made exclusively of hand-painted terracotta. An example? Marcel Carbonel’s atelier.
Those who appreciate modern architecture should visit La Cité radieuse, a residential unit on stilts designed by Le Corbusier to bring together services, shops, schools, flats, social and sports facilities in a single space.
Nature reserve lovers can organise a boat trip to the Îles du Frioul, a habitat for sea birds and rare plants: departures from the Quai des Belges.
If, on the other hand, you are wondering whether Marseille soap really originated in this city, we can tell you that this particular product originated in Aleppo, was brought to Europe by the Arabs and it was Marseille that started industrial production. Today only one soap factory remains that produces it according to ancient techniques and traditions, the soap factory Du Serrail, which is still open to the public.
Finally, football fans can visit the Stade Vélodrome, one of the symbols of French sports architecture, whereMarseille Olympique plays.
Surrounding the lively, chaotic and multi-ethnic Marseille, so rich in history and contrasts, is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the south of France, the calanques, with their turquoise-water inlets and many fishing villages. To reach them, you can take a boat tour from Cassis.
To the west is the Étang de Berre, the largest brackish water basin in Europe. The presence of small picturesque villages, such as Martigues, little touched by tourism, is unfortunately offset by the presence of Europe’s largest petrochemical plants.
Towards the north, on the other hand, one enters the gentle Provençal landscapes of the Pays d’Aix, unmistakable for their avenues of plane trees, fragrant little squares with the ever-present bubbling fountains and expanses of olive groves. Don’t miss a trip to the Provençal market in Aix-en-Provence, an evening in one of the many romantic little restaurants in the centre, a stop at the Thermes Sextius or admiring the view of the Montagne Sainte-Victorie.
Marseille is certainly not famous for its beaches, but if you feel like spending a few hours relaxing, you can head to Plage des Catalans, which is very lively with young locals, or to Plage du Prophète, which, thanks to its shallow waters, is a favourite destination for families with children.
Instead, the Parc Balnèaire du Prado consists of five consecutive beaches, all equipped and served by cafés, while Epluchures Beach and Plage de la Pointe Rouge are popular with surfers and windsurfers.
You can’t leave the city without tasting a good bouillabasse, Provence’s most famous fish soup, born here from fishing tradition. But shun the small restaurants in the more touristy areas and concentrate on the small trattorias in the alleyways.
If you love that incredible mixture of cultures and colours, then take a tour of the more popular areas, perhaps experimenting with the various types of ethnic cuisines and the odd culinary contamination, such as the moitié-moitié pizza, which is half cheese and half anchovy for a typically Marseille snack, quick but tasty.
The following are the only airlines offering direct flights to Marseille. If you are also looking for flights with a stopover for Marseille, we recommend that you use the flight form to check all the possibilities.
The dutch airline KLM flies to the airport of Marseille from airport of Amsterdam Schiphol.
The spanish airline Vueling Airlines flies to the airport of Marseille from airport of Barcelona.
The spanish airline Volotea flies to the airport of Marseille from airport of Copenhagen.
The airline Eurowings flies to the airport of Marseille from airport of Dusseldorf International.
The british airline British Airways flies to the airport of Marseille from airport of London Heathrow.
The spanish airline Iberia flies to the airport of Marseille from airport of Madrid.
The airline Transavia flies to the airport of Marseille from airport of Stockholm Arlanda.
The airline Austrian Airlines flies to the airport of Marseille from airport of Vienna.
The airline SWISS flies to the airport of Marseille from airport of Zurich.
The german airline Lufthansa flies to the airport of Marseille from airports of Munich and Frankfurt am Main.
The french airline Air France flies to the airport of Marseille from airports of Amsterdam Schiphol, Paris Orly and Paris Charles de Gaulle.
The british airline EasyJet flies to the airport of Marseille from airports of London Gatwick, Bristol and Glasgow Intl.
The irish airline Ryanair flies to the airport of Marseille from airports of London Stansted, Manchester, Edinburgh, Bristol, Dublin, Madrid, Brussels S. Charleroi, Vienna and Berlin Brandenburg.Flights to Marseille
If you prefer to travel by train, you will arrive at the Saint Charles station in the heart of the city centre. Getting off the train, you will discover the station, a U-shaped building surmounted by a large glass roof built in 1896 by architect Joseph-Antoine Bouvard, whose metal structure is by Gustave Eiffel. The station is served by TGV, TER and regional trains that will take you to the main destinations on the Côte d’Azur and Provence.
What's the weather at Marseille? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Marseille for the next few days.
The following are the most popular tickets and tours in Marseille that we recommend you don't miss.
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A maritime city in the south of France, Marseille is the heart of Provence, 65 km from Toulon and 103 km from Avignon.
City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.