Your Complete Marseille France Travel Guide for 2024

Last Updated on July 9, 2024 by April Nicole

marseille travel guide
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Marseille, the oldest city in France, offers an unparalleled blend of history, culture, and Mediterranean charm.

As the gateway to Provence, this vibrant port city is rich with stunning architecture, diverse cuisine, and breathtaking coastal views. marseille france travel guide

Travelers often feel overwhelmed by the myriad of experiences Marseille offers, from exploring ancient ruins to enjoying its bustling markets and picturesque calanques.

That’s why a comprehensive Marseille travel guide is essential for making the most of your visit. Drawing from my extensive travel experiences and deep knowledge of Provence, I’ve crafted this guide to help you navigate the city’s must-see attractions, hidden gems, and local secrets.

Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or an adventure seeker, my expertise ensures you’ll have an unforgettable journey through Marseille’s captivating streets.

If you are in a hurry, here’s a summary of Marseille travel guide:

Getting There

By Air

Marseille Provence Airport (MRS) is the main gateway to the city. It’s well-connected with major airlines offering direct flights from various European cities and beyond. Once you land, you can easily reach the city center by shuttle bus, train, or taxi. 👉 Book your flight now and start your South of France adventure!

By Train

Traveling by train is a scenic and convenient option. High-speed TGV trains connect Marseille with major French cities like Paris, Lyon, and Nice. The journey from Paris takes about 3.5 hours, and you’ll arrive right in the heart of the city at the Marseille Saint-Charles station. 👉 Reserve your train ticket to Marseille and discover the ease of rail travel in France!

By Car

If you prefer a road trip, Marseille is accessible via major highways. The drive offers beautiful views of the French countryside. Once in the city, be prepared for urban driving and parking challenges. Consider using parking garages to avoid the hassle of finding street parking. 👉 Rent a car and enjoy the freedom of the open road on your way to Marseille!

Best Time to Visit

Marseille’s Mediterranean climate makes it a year-round destination, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences. marseille france travel guide

  • Spring (March-May): Spring is a wonderful time to visit, with mild temperatures and blooming flowers. The city is less crowded, making it easier to explore the sights.
  • Summer (June-August): Summer is peak tourist season, perfect for beachgoers and festival enthusiasts. Expect warm temperatures and lively crowds. Be sure to book accommodations and activities in advance. marseille travel guide
  • Fall (September-November): Fall offers pleasant weather and fewer tourists. It’s a great time for outdoor activities like hiking in the Calanques and exploring the city without the summer rush.
  • Winter (December-February): Winter in Marseille is mild compared to other parts of Europe. It’s the off-season, so you’ll find fewer tourists and lower prices on accommodations.

Where to Stay

marseille travel guide
On my last trip to Marseille, I stayed at the InterContinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu. Read my review about this hotel here.

Choosing the right place to stay can make all the difference in your Marseille experience. Here are some top neighborhoods and accommodations to consider:

Old Port (Vieux-Port)

The heart of Marseille, the Old Port, is bustling with activity. Staying here puts you close to many of the city’s main attractions, restaurants, and nightlife.

  • Sofitel Marseille Vieux-Port: This luxury hotel offers stunning harbor views, a rooftop terrace, and top-notch amenities. It’s perfect for those looking to splurge a little on their stay.
  • Hôtel La Résidence du Vieux-Port: A boutique hotel offering chic, modern rooms with balconies that overlook the port. It’s a blend of comfort and style right in the middle of the action.

Le Panier

Le Panier is Marseille’s oldest district, filled with narrow, winding streets and historic buildings. It’s a great place to stay if you enjoy a more authentic, local experience.

  • InterContinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu: This luxury hotel is housed in a beautifully restored 18th-century building. It offers breathtaking views of the city and the harbor.
  • Mama Shelter Marseille: A trendy, affordable hotel that’s perfect for younger travelers. It offers a fun, vibrant atmosphere with stylish rooms. marseille france travel guide


This area is a bit quieter but still close to many attractions. It’s ideal for families or those who prefer a more relaxed stay.

Top Attractions

Marseille is filled with fascinating sights and attractions. Here are the must-visit spots for your first trip:

Old Port (Vieux-Port)

marseille travel guide

The Old Port is the beating heart of Marseille. Strolling along the harbor, you’ll see fishing boats and luxury yachts bobbing side by side. It’s a great place to start your exploration.

  • Le Vieux-Port: This area is always bustling with activity. Enjoy fresh seafood at the local restaurants or take a bike tour to the Calanques, a series of stunning limestone cliffs and bays.
  • Fort Saint-Jean: This historic fort offers panoramic views of the port and city. It’s a wonderful place for a leisurely walk and some great photo opportunities.

Le Panier District

marseille travel guide

Le Panier is the oldest district in Marseille, and its charm lies in its narrow streets, colorful buildings, and artistic vibe. marseille france travel guide

  • La Vieille Charité: This former almshouse is now home to museums and cultural exhibits. It’s a beautiful building with a peaceful courtyard, perfect for a quiet afternoon.
  • Street Art and Cafés: Wandering the narrow streets of Le Panier, you’ll discover vibrant street art and charming cafés. It’s a great place to soak in the local atmosphere and perhaps pick up some unique souvenirs.

The Calanques

marseille france travel guide

The Calanques are a series of stunning limestone cliffs and bays stretching along the coast between Marseille and Cassis. They are perfect for hiking, swimming, and boat tours. The Calanque de Sormiou and Calanque de Morgiou are must-visits for their natural beauty and crystal-clear waters.

Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde

marseille france travel guide

One of Marseille’s most iconic landmarks, this stunning basilica is perched atop a hill, offering breathtaking views of the city and the Mediterranean Sea. The interior is equally impressive, with beautiful mosaics and a serene atmosphere.

Château d’If

marseille france travel guide

Take a ferry from Vieux-Port to Château d’If, a historic fortress on a small island. The fortress is famous for its role in Alexandre Dumas’ novel “The Count of Monte Cristo.” Explore the prison cells and enjoy the stunning views of the coastline.

Cultural Experiences

Marseille is a cultural melting pot with plenty to offer in terms of museums, galleries, and local experiences. marseille france travel guide

MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations)

marseille france travel guide

MuCEM is a modern museum that showcases Mediterranean culture, history, and art. The building itself is a piece of art with its unique design, combining contemporary architecture with historical elements. The exhibitions are fascinating, and the views from the rooftop terrace are spectacular.

La Friche la Belle de Mai

marseille france travel guide

This former tobacco factory is now a vibrant cultural complex. It hosts art exhibitions, concerts, markets, and workshops. The rooftop is a popular spot for events and offers great views of the city.

Local Markets

Exploring local markets is a great way to experience the flavors of Marseille.

  • Marché des Capucins: This vibrant market offers fresh produce, spices, and local delicacies. It’s a sensory delight and a perfect place to pick up ingredients for a picnic or souvenirs to take home.
  • Marché de Noailles: Known for its multicultural atmosphere, this market offers a variety of exotic foods and ingredients. It’s a melting pot of flavors and cultures, reflecting the diverse nature of Marseille.

Local Cuisine

You can’t visit Marseille without trying bouillabaisse, a traditional fish stew. Other local dishes include aioli (garlic mayonnaise) and navettes (orange-flavored biscuits).

  • Must-Try Restaurants:
    • Chez Fonfon
    • Le Miramar

Seafood Specialties

Marseille’s proximity to the sea means you’ll find an abundance of fresh seafood. Visit the fish markets or dine at seafood restaurants for the best experience. marseille france travel guide

  • Top Spots:
    • Toinou
    • Les Halles de la Major

Local Wine and Spirits

Don’t miss out on tasting local wines from the Cassis region and trying Pastis, an anise-flavored spirit popular in Marseille.

Day Trips from Marseille

Marseille’s location makes it an excellent base for exploring the surrounding region. Here are some great day trip ideas:


Just a 30-minute drive or train ride from Marseille, Aix-en-Provence is known for its beautiful architecture, charming streets, and vibrant markets. The city’s numerous fountains and squares create a picturesque setting perfect for a leisurely day of exploration.


marseille france travel guide

A short drive from Marseille, Cassis is a charming seaside town known for its stunning calanques and picturesque harbor. Take a boat tour to see the cliffs from the water, or simply relax on the beach and enjoy the Mediterranean sun.


A bit further afield, Avignon is famous for its historical significance and well-preserved architecture. The Palais des Papes and the Pont d’Avignon are must-see landmarks. The city also hosts a renowned arts festival each summer, making it a vibrant destination. marseille france travel guide

The Luberon

For a taste of rural Provence, head to the Luberon region. The area is dotted with picturesque villages like Gordes, Roussillon, and Bonnieux, each offering its own unique charm. The Luberon is also known for its vineyards and lavender fields, providing a quintessential Provençal experience.

Practical Tips

Getting Around

Marseille has an efficient public transport system, including buses, trams, and metro lines. Consider purchasing a 24-hour or 72-hour travel pass for unlimited travel on public transport. The city is also very walkable, especially around the Old Port and Le Panier. For short trips, Le Vélo, the city’s bike-sharing system, is convenient and affordable.


Marseille is generally safe, but like any major city, it’s important to be mindful of your belongings, especially in crowded areas. Stick to well-lit, busy areas at night and be cautious in less populated neighborhoods. marseille france travel guide


While French is the official language, English is widely understood in tourist areas. Learning a few basic French phrases can enhance your experience and show respect to the local culture. Simple greetings and phrases like “bonjour” (hello), “merci” (thank you), and “s’il vous plaît” (please) go a long way.

France Travel Planning 🇫🇷

Accommodation 🛌

  • – Find diverse accommodations, enjoy easy booking with great deals, and rely on real reviews and 24/7 support.
  • – With its user-friendly interface, it simplifies the process of booking hotels and holiday packages to France.
  • – Your go-to platform for unique and comfortable vacation rentals in France.

Transportation 🚘

  • – Offers a seamless booking experience, ensuring you find the ideal car for your adventures in France.
  • – Is the ultimate solution for your travel transfer needs, offering an efficient, flexible service and comfortable transportation.
  • stands as a quintessential tool for savvy travelers seeking to navigate France’s extensive rail network with ease and confidence.
  • – Simplifies your travel planning with its user-friendly interface, offering a comprehensive comparison of flights.

Attractions, Activities and Tours 🇫🇷

  • – Stands out as a trusted resource for travelers seeking unparalleled experiences across the globe.
  • – Offers an extensive collection of tours, activities, and attractions in France.
  • – This tour company specializes in crafting exceptional experiences across Paris and France.

Communication 📱

  • Orange Sim Card – Discover seamless connectivity on your French travels with an Orange Holiday Europe Sim Card, a top choice for tourists.
  • – The world’s first eSIM store that solves the pain of high roaming bills by giving travelers access to eSIMs (digital SIM cards).

Travel Insurance ✈️

  • – Travel with peace of mind knowing you’re protected in almost every corner of the world.
  • Travel Insurance Master – Visit their website to discover the ideal insurance plan that aligns with your travel dreams.

These are only a few of my favorites; for more, see my comprehensive guide to the top travel booking websites for France.

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