In just under a 2-hour flight from London, Marseille on France’s south coast is the country’s second largest city after Paris and sits in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.
Perfect for all the family, its iconic boat port, beaches, fine dining, art and culture adds to its rich tapestry.
Here are my top tips for getting the best out of the city.
The frequent, quick and reliable Navette bus (no 91) takes you directly from the airport into central Marseille’s train station Marseille St. Charles in just under half-an-hour, and costs just €13 return per person.
From there, most of the city is walkable, except for the larger beaches that you’ll want to get a hire car for or take a bus too.
For those on a budget, there are Monoprix supermarkets dotted around, stocking incredible fruit, veg, wines and supplies for those who want to stagger eating out with self-catering aspects.
For clothes shopping, head to La Bourse, Rue Saint-Ferréol the large shopping street next to Old Harbor (with a selection of high street brands). Rue du Paradis, a shopping street boasting a range of fashion brands next to the Old Harbor.
Fancy shopping with sea views? Head to Les Terrasses Du Port.
Art & Culture
The Old Harbour is the most iconic area of Marseille. Although the restaurants and bars are geared towards the tourist trade, they’re not all bad. Amorino does amazing ice cream for a start!
Le Panier, the oldest part of Marseille and now very Bohemian, was my favourite area of Marseille. With little colourful streets with interesting cafes, bars and bric-a-brac. It’s a great little spot for discovering interesting sites and people watching.
If you only visit one gallery on your trip then head to Mucem. One of the most impressive museum structures I’ve ever seen, the museum comprises of a modern square structure connected by a footbridge to the historic Fort Sain-Jean with stunning views of Marseille’s old port. And of course, head to Notre-Dame de la Garde a Catholic basilica in Marseille, France, the city’s best-known symbol with incredible views of the whole city.
Ever read ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’? The Island prison which Edmund Dante is sent to is the ‘Chateau D’If’ and worth a visit. Just a short boat ride from the Old Harbor via Frioul If Express. It’s well well worth taking the ticket that lets you go to the Island of Frioul. This pretty little island doesn’t allow cars and is well worth a stop.
The biggest beach is the Plage du Prado, but you’ll need public transport from the port area, so for those looking to stay closer into town the Catalans beach is perfect. As a more private beach, just note that it closes at around 7pm.
For the wine tour of wine tours! Take a tour with Province Wine Tours. The team and guides are English speaking, friendly and I promise you, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for the French wine making process.
For more details head online for details of tickets and tour packages.
Want to eat like a local? Take your papers, sit, drink coffee and watch the world go by at Le Comptoir Dugommier they have a tremendous lunch board, all freshly sourced and cooked and if you struggle with a French menu, there are English speaking staff on hand to assist.
I also recommend two main areas for eating and drinking. The first Le Court Julien, a trendy part of town. There’s a beautiful Italian here called La Cantinetta, however, you must book in advance to avoid disappointment.
For a fun, quick and unique drink before dinner head to Videodrome 2, a single screen cinema and DVD rental shop.
Le Champs De Mars is a very lovely French Brasseries that’s very lively at night.
On the edge of this area and for more fine dining Le’ Entre-Pots offers very good French food and has an extensive wine list.
For good value, simple French food, with a trendy mixed crowd head to Longchamps Palace. Alternatively, enjoy an aperitif here, and take an immediate right out of here to a beautiful rooftop Egyptian restaurant Nour d’Egypte, where you can eat incredible veggie Meza platters under the stars surrounded by Jasmin trees.
And finally for THE best seafood I’ve ever had, you must head to La Boite A Sardine. It’s only open for lunch Tuesday to Saturday and the menu changes daily depending on what’s been caught freshly that morning. Friendly staff, great wine and incredible food. GO!