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.