Escape to France’s historic southern port city to experience its picture-perfect coastline, cosmopolitan café culture and more than 26 centuries of history.
France’s reputation for food and hospitality collides with thousands of years of history, art and architecture in Marseille, France’s oldest city. Visit the southern city with your camera, swimmers and walking shoes in hand to explore Marseille’s amazing historic sites, sunny beaches and the cliff-top hiking routes that follow the Mediterranean coastline.
Wake up with a cup of coffee and breakfast at one of the local cafés the city is famous for. Over the past century the city’s residents have devoted themselves to developing their iconic café culture around the Vieux Port precinct.
Take a walk through the city’s old town, Panier, to see the major sights of Marseille. Just north of the port you’ll find the Vieille Charité Museum and the Baroque-style Hotêl de Ville. Hop on board the Petit Train that runs from the old town to reach the towering Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica, which boasts some of the best views of Marseille.
Spend an afternoon at the luxurious Opéra de Marseillebefore exploring the galleries, theatres and winding streets that characterise the nearby Canebiére thoroughfare. Stop by the tourist office on the arcade to discover the many cultural events taking place each week in Marseille. Venture to the Noailles district to shop for oddities in the sprawling African markets.
The landscape surrounding Marseille shouldn’t be missed: there are many hikes, bike rides and boat trips to embark on in the Calanques National Park. Sign up for a guided boat tour to see Château d’If, the former prison island that was immortalised in Alexandre Dumas’ famous film, Count of Monte Cristo. While away the afternoon in Borély Park as you explore its beautiful chateau and surrounding botanic garden before you head to Prado Beach or Borély Beach to watch the sunset.
Marseille’s city centre is easily navigated on foot with most attractions located close to Vieux Port. From the port you can use the city’s public bus and boat routes to reach attractions outside the city. Arrive in Marseille via France’s extensive network of high-speed trains or by ferry from Corsica, Sardinia and Northern Africa. Those coming from outside Europe will need to fly from a European hub to Marseille’s international airport, which is among the busiest in the nation.