10 Things To Do In Marseille, France

10 Things To Do In Marseille, France

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Founded by the Greeks in the year 600 BC, Marseille is the oldest and second-largest city in France. Often overlooked due to its robust commercial influence in the region of Provence, the sights and sounds of Marseille can only be discovered by the inquisitive traveller.

Things To Do In Marseille

With Oriental, Greek, Italian, and Northern African influences, the city of Marseille offers something for every taste. The people of Marseille are surprisingly relaxed and accommodating, and will be eager to share their heritage with you as you tick items off your top ten list of things to do in Marseille.

10 Things To Do In Marseille, France

Escale Borely

For a taste of cosmopolitan Marseille nightlife, find a seat in one of the many cafes and restaurants along l’Escale Borely. Situated on the waterfront south of the town centre and accessible by bus, you can take your pick from a vast variety of cuisine from the many restaurant offerings here. “People-watching”, a traditional French pastime, is at its best on l’Escale Borely. Watch inline skaters, chat with local residents, and take in the sights and sounds of Marseille at night from a modern point of view, before the magnificent backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea. You can dance the rest of your night away at the Cafe de la Plage, one of the city’s best discotheques.

la Canebiere

Take a leisurely stroll down la Canebiere on your way to the ancient port, and experience a melange of unique Marseille styles. Closed to the Old Port until the eighteenth century, the thoroughfare la Canebiere divides the city in two as it meanders toward the sea, and is now home to luxury shops, cafes, and hotels. If you schedule your walk back around mealtime, you will want to sample some the variety of ethnic Mediterranean cuisine, from couscous to polenta, to the “navette”, and orange-flavored cookie originating in Marseille.

Parc Saint-Pons

The naturalist will enjoy this refreshing departure from the city of Marseille proper, located 24 km east of Marseille. Between the village of Gemenos and Mount Saint-Baume, Parc Saint-Pons offers lovely walks under the shade of ash, spruce and maple trees. Within the park is situated a twelfth-century abbey, once home to a community of Cistercian monks. Free concerts of religious music are held in the abbey throughout the summer.

10 Things To Do In Marseille, France

Abbaye Saint Victor

This famous abbey was built in the fifth century and is among the most ancient religious monuments in Marseille. Built over the tomb of Saint Victor, a third-century Christian martyr, the Abbaye Saint Victor is also the entrance to the Old Port. The abbey is home to a number of crypts and catacombs, which are open to visitors, including of course the famed Tomb of Saint Victor. If you are lucky enough to be in Marseille in February, you won’t want to miss a special ceremony held in Abbaye Saint Victor known as “la fete de la Chandeleur” (Candlemas).

Parc Balneaire du Prado

With its expansive leisure and seaside location, the Parc Balneaire du Prado is the ideal setting for a day of relaxation with friends and family. With areas to play football, rollerblade, and skateboard, the park features international relaxation with French flair. The park stretches from Palm-Beach to the sea wall at Pointe-Rouge.


No trip to Marseille is complete without enjoying a meal of the distinctive fish soup known as “bouillabaisse”. A soup both hearty and refreshing, bouillabaisse was originally eaten by the fishermen of the region, who would set aside fish not intended for sale to prepare for their own families. Now featuring more variety of sauces and crustaceans, the traditional bouillabaisse has become the gourmand’s delight. Ask locals where to find the best bouillabaisse, and they will probably point you in the direction of the Old Port.

Les Calanques

Put on your hiking shoes and get ready for a workout when you visit the rugged cliffs of les Calanques. The crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea span as far as the eye can see from the tops of these cliffs. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy when you reach the top, and hold onto your hat – playful lavender breezes have been known to steal the unwary traveler’s head attire! Don’t forget your swimsuit: les Calanque’s many secluded beaches offer the perfect end to a perfect hike: a relaxing dip in the emerald waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

10 Things To Do In Marseille, France

Musee des Beaux-Arts

Accessible by metro, autobus, or on foot, the Musee des Beaux Arts houses an extensive collection of work from the School of Provence, dating from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. Your tour should include the Salon de Honore Daumier, a native of Marseille born in 1808, and the scenic Palais Longchamp. Visiting the museum can take the better part of a day, so plan to arrive early.

le Chateau d’If

Visit the famed Chateau d’If, and discover the inspiration for the novel The Count of Monte Cristo, written in 1845 by French novelist Alexandre Dumas. Once used as a prison and recently a filming locale for the movie “The Man in the Iron Mask”, this famous chateau is growing in popularity as a must-see for travelers to southern France. To get to the chateau, purchase a ferry ticket to the Island of d’If from the Quai des Belges in the Old Port of Marseilles.

Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde

The first thing you’ll notice upon approach to Marseille is Notre Dame de la Garde, situated at the highest point of the city. A breathtaking 500 feet tall and covered in gold leaf, this magnificently luminescent basilica is lovingly called “la bonne mere” (the good mother) by local residents. A glorious statue of the Virgin and Child beams from atop the structure’s main belfry, and seems to watch over and protect the bustling city below. Use your City Pass ticket to reach the top. You can’t miss it – the Basilique is visible from any point in the city.

Image Credit: Depositphotos

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