Marseille France Travel Guide

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, Marseille France, Marseille France Travel Guide, best Marseille beaches, best Marseille Tours and Activities, best Marseille hotels, best Marseille restaurants, best Marseille bars, Marseille things to do

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.

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Plage de la Grand Mar, Marseille France, Marseille France Travel Guide, best Marseille beaches, best Marseille Tours and Activities, best Marseille hotels, best Marseille restaurants, best Marseille bars, Marseille things to do

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.

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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.

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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.

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Plage des Catalans, Marseille France, Marseille France Travel Guide, best Marseille beaches, best Marseille Tours and Activities, best Marseille hotels, best Marseille restaurants, best Marseille bars, Marseille things to do

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.

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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

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

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

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

La Fabrique

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.

8 Comments

  1. Fred

    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!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      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.

      Reply
  2. Strahinja

    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.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      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.

      Reply
  3. Stephanie

    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. 

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      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.

      Reply
  4. Andrew

    Hi Leahrae,

    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

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      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 🙂

      Reply

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