The port city of Marseille is a dazzling metropolis on the Mediterranean. Take in the artsy, old world charm of its opera house and its many museums and galleries. Marseille is the jewel of France’s Mediterranean coastline with rocky hills that look down to the ancient port where thousands of boats are docked. Marseille has beautiful beaches, ancient buildings, thriving arts, and a lively nightlife. Vacationing to Marseille? Continue reading our Marseille France Travel Guide and start planning your vacation today.
Marseille Weather – When to Visit
The best time to visit Marseille is from September to November, when tourists head home from the peak season of May to August. This is a great time as beaches are cleared out, as well as attractions and accommodations. Temperature highs during these months average 72 ℉ to 84 ℉. From December to March is low season, with average temperatures in the 40,s and an emptied-out city. April is another nice time of year, where travelers may see discounted rates on flights and rooms, along with temperatures averaging 65 ℉ and relatively thin crowds.
Best Beaches in Marseille
Plages Escale Borely
Escale Borely is one of the most popular beaches along this part of the coast for people who enjoy sailing and windsurfing. Along this stretch, you will find a wide variety of bars, cafés and restaurants where you can enjoy delicious food and cocktails. You can also do some shopping in the boutiques and souvenir shops nearby apart from relaxing and enjoying under the sun, indulging in water sports and more while in Marseille.
Plage de la Grand Mar
This is the main beach of Cassis, a small town that is not far from Marseille. This gorgeous beach is within walking distance of the town center. Grand Mar is one of the beautiful sandy beaches near Marseille that is perfect for families and those looking for a relaxing under the Mediterranean sun. You can sunbathe, swim, and enjoy a variety of other activities on this beach.
Calanque Port Pin
This is one of the best beaches near Marseille. Pristine and absolutely breathtaking, Port Pin is one of the beaches you must visit during your stay in Marseille. It is located about an hour’s walk away from the town’s center. The beach is quite difficult to access, but it is worth the trip as you can enjoy a day on an unspoiled beach without having to worry about large crowds.
Calanque d’En Vau
Calanque d’En Vau is one of the most spectacular beaches near Marseilles. It is also one of the most famous beaches. One of the most popular things to do is climbing the steep, jagged cliffs, and hiking to the beach. Once there you can enjoy a swim in its amazing turquoise waters.
Plage des Catalans
Plage des Catalans is dotted with lively and cheap bars on the shores, and is one of the best beaches to enjoy sailing and boating. Cruise through rolling hills and boulders that grace the beach. Enjoy the day sunbathing, a quiet evening or just stroll along the beautiful coastline.
Best Marseille Tours & Activities
Historical Center Walking Tour of Marseille
Follow Marseille’s journey from ancient Greek port town to 2013 European Capital of Culture on this walking tour of Marseille’s historic center. Marvel at its medieval ruins; explore the atmospheric neighborhood of Le Panier; stroll around the Old Port; and admire landmarks such as Fort St Jean, the MUCEM, and the Cathédrale de la Major. Read more about the Historical Walking Tour of Marseille.
Marseille Shore Excursion: Private Electric Bike Tour
Experience the beauty and culture of France’s oldest city on a 4-hour electric bike tour! On this private Marseille shore excursion, accompany your local guide on a journey through the city’s colorful streets. Explore off-the-beaten-path areas, picturesque ports and main attractions like Palais du Pharo and Notre-Dame de la Garde, then cruise along the waterfront for postcard-perfect Mediterranean views. Maximize your sightseeing time in Marseille! Read more about the Marseille Electric Bike Tour.
Marseille Shore Excursion: City Sightseeing Tour of Marseille
Spend the morning exploring Marseilles’ historical neighborhoods on a small-group tour with a guide. Perfect for visitors looking to maximize their time in the city, the tour covers many of the city’s main sights in half a day. Peruse shops and restaurants in the along the water in the old port, and take in panoramic views along the Cape Croisette. Read more about the Marseille Shore Excurision.
Aix en Provence, Marseille & Cassis Minivan Tour
Maximize your stopover in Marseille with the best panoramic tour to discover Aix en Provence, Marseille and Cassis. Explore Aix en Provence with your private guide. Discover Cassis and its superb panorama at the top of Cap Canaille. Explore Marseille and visit Notre Dame de la Garde. Read more about the Marseille & Cassis Minivan Tour.
Private Tour: Marseille and Aix-en-Provence Day Trip from Avignon
Discover charming southern Provence with a private full-day tour of Marseille and Aix-en-Provence from Avignon. Wander Aix’s Cours Mirabeau, an elegant boulevard laced with 17- and 18th-century mansions, cafés and boutiques, and tour Paul Cézanne’s final art studio (additional expense). Continue to bustling Marseille for a sightseeing expedition to Notre-Dame de la Garde, the Abbey of St Victor and Vieux Port (Old Port). Read more about the Marseille and Aix-en-Provence Day Trip.
Best Marseille Restaurants
Une Table Au Sud $31 – 60
Une Table Au Sud provides creative Mediterranean cuisine that is changed according to the season. This award-winning restaurant uses only the finest and freshest ingredients. With floor-to-ceiling windows, you’ll have stunning views of the port and the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica in the distance. Telephone: 33 4 91 90 63 53 Web: Une Table Au Sud
Le Souk $11 – 30
This Moroccan-themed restaurant is a reflection of the large Maghreb population that call Marseille their home. Sample traditional North African couscous dishes, kebabs and the ‘tagine of the day’. There are many vegetarian options too so you don’t have to be a meat-eater to enjoy Le Souk. The delicious food, the decor, furniture and the uniform of the servers is reminiscent of an authentic Moroccan restaurant. Telephone: 33 4 91 91 29 29 Web: Le Souk
Le Bouchon Provençal $11 – 30
This bistro in the heart of Marseille’s Old Port is a local favorite. Le Bouchon Provençal‘s menu is revamped with each new season and the wine list comprehensive. There are more than 60 wines to choose from, ranging from modest to the extravagant.. The meat, seafood and regional specialty dishes are popular. The plates of meats and cheeses for starters are favorites. Telephone: 33 4 91 33 44 92 Web: Le Bouchon Provencal
Le Café des Epices $11 – 30
This charming French bistro is in the Old Port area of Marseille. The small lunch and dinner menus are made from fresh, seasonal ingredients which please even the pickiest eaters. If you can’t decide, opt for the chef’s menu which changes from night to night. The urban decor is chic and stylish. The outdoor seating on the terrace is particularly pleasant on those balmy Mediterranean evenings. Telephone: 33 4 91 91 22 69 Web: Le Cafe des Epices
Le Grain de Sel $11 – 30
The emphasis here is using fresh, organic, locally sourced ingredients to make tasty, wholesome food. The open-plan kitchen is visible from every table, so you know that your meal will be made to order and prepared fresh in front of you. With such a high-quality menu at reasonable prices, you will leave happy. Telephone: 33 4 91 54 47 30 Web: Le Grain de Sel
Best Marseille Bars
La Caravelle has been around since the 1930s. It has a distinctive jazzy element and prewar characteristics, but has been modernized by introducing a tapas bar that serves great snacks to accompany the drinks. They also serve full meals during lunch and dinner. The tiny terrace looks over the Vieux Port, so tourists can appreciate the great views. Telephone: 33 4 91 90 36 64 Web: La Caravelle
Le Bar de la Marine
Le Bar de la Marine was featured in Love Actually. Many locals also claim that this is where French director Marcel Pagnol filmed scenes of his trilogy of films Marius(1931), Fanny (1932) and César (1936). As its name suggests the bar is located by the port, and has a huge breezy terrace where diners can partake in a French aperitif. Telephone: 33 4 91 54 95 42 Web: Le Bar de la Marine
L’Unic is a wonderful bar where the drinks never stop coming and the fun never ends. Open from early morning until late night, it sees a variety of folk come through the doors. Older locals love it for a late morning or early afternoon drink, while younger people head here later on in the evening to start what usually ends up being an unforgettable night out. Telephone: 33 4 91 33 45 84 Web: L’Unic
Le Crystal is one of the most popular spots in the Vieux Port district, with a retro décor reminiscent of the 1950s and a wonderful heated terrace that allows visitors to enjoy the views and the atmosphere even when it is freezing outside. Order one of their exquisite cocktails or wines, or choose to have a more relaxed night out and start by dining at this bar. The service is quick and friendly, making the experience a great one. Telephone: 33 4 91 91 57 96 Web: Le Crystal
The name of this bar is a reference to Andy Warhol’s Factory, and this bar may remind visitors of New York City. The cosmopolitan vibe, with its cute and freshly decorated interior, the beautiful terrace from which tourists can admire the sunset and the excellent food and drinks menu will all make for an unforgettable evening. This is one of the best bars that Marseille has to offer. Telephone: 33 4 91 91 40 48 Web: La Fabrique
Best Marseille Hotels
Sofitel Marseille Vieux Port
Ideally located at the heart of France’s oldest port city, this hotel is a stopover between the Riviera, the Camargue and Lubéron,and a short boat ride away from the Château d’If on its famous island setting and the Calanques. Near La Canebière, the hotel offers an exceptional view over the Vieux-Port. In the evenings, relax in the cozy atmosphere of the Dantès Skylounge.
La Residence Du Vieux Port
The hotel “La Residence du Vieux Port Marseilles” is on the south bank of the famous Old Port, and offers stunning views of the waterfront whatever the time of year. At the rear you can see the breathtaking Notre-Dame de la Garde cathedral, perched on the top of the hill overlooking the city.Every room in our hotel has been newly renovated with a chic 50s retro feel, blending style and comfort.
Hôtel & Spa du Castellet
Experience a unique moment… The Spa du Castellet adds a touch of serenity to its surroundings in a 700 m² setting where luxury, calm and freedom to feel good are the keywords. It is the ideal destination for any wellness getaway to the Var for a day or a stay.
Alex Hotel & Spa
At the heart of the Marseilles Saint Charles district, at the foot of the train station stairs, come and experience the ALEX Hotel! An original hotel which is shaking up traditional hospitality, with its seamless blend of modern design and Marseilles classicism. Its 21 rooms and Junior Suites with contemporary, smooth and vibrant forms, accommodate you in a place that is protected from the outside world and the stresses and strains of the city.
InterContinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu
InterContinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu is perfectly located overlooking the Vieux Port, right beside the oldest district in Marseille known as the Panier. The hotel is housed in a listed historical monument dating back to the 18th century and boasts a really beautiful terrace, where you can rest after a busy day admiring the Vieux Port. Nearby the Calanques must be seen! Marseille is the vibrant Mediterranean’s capital of Provence.
Wow Marseille is wonderful. It also looks great. I have been looking thru your website at different locations in France for a vacation my friend is taking. I do not know now which to recommend to my friend now. Seems like France has some really awesome cities here. And this city owns a football club:) I am really impressed here and now I have to decide which of these beautiful destinations to recommend.
Hi John, boy its a tough call for sure. It really depends one what they like to do in a vacation. If they love beaches, then Corsica is perfect as they have over 200 beautiful beaches. If you can find out what they like to do besides the beach, I can help you. Just send me a note with what they are looking for and I will help with the selection 🙂
What a beautiful town! The video is was captivating it almost felt like a virtual tour. Marseille is definitely one of my bucket list places. Thank you for the tips on when to avoid the most tourists. The info on the activities in and around Marseille looks very interesting, especially the electric bike excursion.
Great Hanlie! I hope you can fulfill this bucket list item soon 🙂 If you need any additional information, please don’t hesitate to ask. Thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.
France France France, the home of beautiful cities. I have not been to Marseille before but I have toured Paris once before. I would very much like to be in Marseille someday and every other city there is in that country. I think it is a very good thing that you can share here an insight into the beaches. Really cool beaches to have a great getaway and nice hotels to match. Nice one!
Thanks Henderson! It sounds like you love France 🙂 I hope you can get to enjoy Marseille soon!
Hi! I have always been told that November is a great time to visit Marseille. And you have mentioned that also here in your post. One of the first things I want to do at Marseille is climb the steep, jagged cliffs at Calanque d’En Vau! They’re world wide famous! And after that plunge into those amazing turquoise waters.
Sounds wonderful Henry! Please let me know how your vacation goes in Marseille and where you decide to stay 🙂
France has been one of my dream destinations for a while now. Calanque d En Vau is spectacular indeed! Those cliffs look scary yet fun to climb at the same time. That is one place I’d like to visit and dare myself. Plages Escale Borely would be my favorite to visit as it seems to have such a lively group of people. It is nice that most of these beaches are not far from the town center. I love the historic nature of Marseille and its art. This has been a very useful article. Thank you for these great suggestions.
You are very welcome Carole. I am glad you enjoyed. Please let me know if you need any additional information. Thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.
Thank you very much for the well detailed topic. This will obviously be my next destination for holiday. I like the beaches a great deal. And I have found more reasons to convenience my partner as to why this must be our next destination. I will not hesitate to refer my friends your website because we normally travel together.
I like the way you presented the information and the images.
You are very welcome Laina. I am glad you enjoyed your visit to beach travel destinations.
It is a very refreshing website. One of my friends just came back from Marseille and I must meet her soon to hear about her trip. All I know for the moment is that she has made a fantastic trip.
I can not travel because of health problems but I would like to thank you for allowing me to travel through your site. I would love to visit the medieval ruins and also eat in the restaurants you recommended.
It is with obvious pleasure that I read your comments on Marseille and hopes to read other summaries of your travels.
Thank you Claude. I am glad you are enjoying your “digital” vacations 🙂
I have never been across the Atlantic so anyplace in Europe would be fantastic to me, but I have to say, after viewing your coverage of Marseilles, I would especially like to go there. The images are stunning, the writeups are so descriptive and exciting. Loved the video, even the soundtrack for it. Then the summaries of the hotels, restaurants, etc. are top quality all the way! It is as if you are working for a travel agent, but I know this is just to convince people like me to come visit! Totally enjoyed this!
Glad you enjoyed Jack! Come back again for another digital visit 🙂
Wow Marseille looks beautiful! Thank you for sharing, this is definitely on my list of places to go, I am sure my wife would love it as well. Very nice information on here also, from restaurant and bars to places to go see and places to stay. You have pretty much any question I have answered, now to start saving up!
Yep! It is a bucket list place for sure. Especially if you like the beach, beautiful scenery and some great culture. Hope you can visit Marseille France soon!
I loved reading your article on the beaches of Marseille, France. It is absolutely beautiful there and I would love to visit. I love the turquoise waters and had no idea that the water is so amazing there!
Thank you for such a thorough article. I am definitely going to start planning my trip!
Ok Alisha! You won’t be disappointed either. Thank you for visiting my Marseille France Travel Guide.
I never thought Marseille was so beautiful. I am literally blown away by the water and beaches. Would you recommend this to be a couple vacation or a family vacation? Also, how much time do you think someone should plan on visiting just Marseille? I would love to tour all of Europe, however I think the idea of visiting one city at a time is more appealing. Thanks for the post. I can’t wait to talk to my wife about maybe visiting France!
First in my mind, is that Marseille is definitely a place for couples, a very romantic city for sure. You could head there with the family. I have done this before and had wished for the romantic getaway. Don’t get me wrong, I love vacationing with my family, but a romantic getaway is wonderful.
Wow, you really nailed it with this guide. I was visiting Marseille last July, but it was only as a city stop. Never realized Marseille had so many beatuiful beaches and places to cool off during warm summer days. I remember that weather was cold when I was visiting, so that must be the reason why the travel agency did not include the trip to one of the city beaches.
I am sure that is why. A beach on a cold day, for me, not nearly as much fun. I like to take a dip in the water to cool off, part of the fun I guess. Sounds like you will be visiting Marseille again.
Im not really a big fan of the ocean. I love how beautiful and calm it is but I would just enjoy it from a distance. I live about 5 minutes away from the beach and I’ve only been there once in the two years I’ve been living in this town. For me at least, the ocean gives me way too much anxiety for me to fully enjoy it. Regardless, this was a good article to take in and admire some of the beautiful places mother nature has to offer.
Yes, that is the thing about Marseille, there is not only the beach. So many things to see and so much history. So I think there is something for everyone for sure. Thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.
I have just read your article on visiting Marseille and I really enjoyed it. It looks like Marseille might be a better destination to visit than Monaco as it should be less busy and hopefully less expensive. I would be travelling from England and wonder if you know where the nearest airport is and the best way to transfer from the airport to the city? Thanks in advance, Andrew
Yes, I would agree that Marseille will be less expensive by a lot and less busy for sure. The best airport to fly into is Axe en Provence Airport. I don’t know where in England you live, so I cannot give the best route. But you will want to fly into Axe En Provence. Click on this link for airport transfer to and from your hotel. Reliable and private 🙂