Marseille

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Travel Guide Europe France Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Marseille

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Introduction

8-Vieux Port de Marseille

8-Vieux Port de Marseille

© All Rights Reserved Mistrale

Marseille basks in the glory of its prime location along France's Mediterranean coast. Once a trading port in the ancient Greek empires, Marseille is now France's second largest city and the largest port in the Mediterranean. There are about 1.5 million people living in the urban area, just a little more in the bigger metropolitan area. Marseille has a lot to offer for the traveller. Enjoy the great museums and stunning churches. Or just take some time off and just relax on the beach. If looking for something more off the beaten track take a day trip to explore some of the nearby coastline, which is stunning and has great rock climbing.

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Neighbourhoods

Marseille is divided into 16 municipal arrondissements. These are again divided into quartiers.

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Sights and Activities

Opéra de Marseille

Opéra de Marseille was constructed in 1787 and reached its height of fame after the Revolution. Throughout the 19th century this opera house was the site of many famous operas. In 1919, after installing electricity, a fire destroyed the interior of the opera house leaving only the shell and the exterior stone colonnade. On December 4, 1924 the building was reopened and can seat up to 1,800 people. The Opéra de Marseille is located near the Old Port and the Canebière.

Old Port Area Sights

8-Voilier a Marseille

8-Voilier a Marseille

© All Rights Reserved Mistrale

  • Fort St Nicolas
  • Fort Saint Jean
  • Daily Fish Market is located at Quai des Belges go find out what the catch of the day is.
  • Phare de Sainte Marie is a stunning lighthouse built to mark the entrance to the harbour. Construction was completed in 1855. This 21.3-metre (70 feet) high lighthouse was made of natural finished limestone giving it a nice charm. The lighthouse is located on the north side of the Passe de la Joliette.

Museums

  • La Vieille Charité is located in Panier is an architecturally significant building with a stunning central baroque chapel in the courtyard. Today the building is home to the archeological museum and a gallery of African and Asian art.
  • The Musée d'Histoire features the ancient history of Marseille with the pride of the collection being a preserved hull of a 6th century boat. The museum is located in Centre Bourse.
  • The Palais de la Bourse was the first chamber commerce ever built in France. Inside is a small museum with exhibits on the maritime and the commercial history of the city.
  • The Musée de la Mode is dedicated to modern fashion this museum has displays featuring over 200 designs from the last 30 years.
  • The Musée Cantini is a museum dedicated to modern art and is near the Palais De Justice.
  • The Museum of Old Marseille is located in a 16th century home, this museum describes the everyday life of the citizens of the city from the 18th century onwards.
  • Museum of Contemporary Art is dedicated to European and American art from the 1960s to the present. The museum is located outside the city center.

Beaches

  • Prado
  • Pointe Rough
  • Les Goudes
  • Callelongue
  • Le Prophète

Other Sights and Activities

  • Abbey of Saint Victor is one of the oldest places of Christian worship in France this Abby features amazing early fifth century crypts and catacombs.
  • Notre-Dame de la Garde has a stunning basilica was designed in a Neo-Byrzantine style and sits on top of the singal hill of La Garde. The belfry is capped with a large gold gilded statue of the Virgin and Child, which is visible across the city and from several kilometers out to sea. The inside is decorated with marble, mosaics and murals.
  • The Pharo Gardens is a nice park with good views of the water and the Old Port.
  • Calanque - explore this amazing rugged coastline of steep limestone valleys that continue out into the sea. These valleys offer great hiking and rock climbing opportunities. And the spectacular Cosquer Cave has some amazing rock art. This area of the coastline is a good day trip from Marseille.
  • Marseille Provence Greeters is a new way to explore Marseille! Greeters are local volunteers from Marseille who accompany you on your walk, unveil their secret places and top addresses and regale you with fun little stories about the enigmatic Marseille-Provence area.

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Weather

Marseille has a Mediterranean climate with dyr, sunny and warm to hot summers and mostly mild but wetter winters. Summers last from June to September with temperatures around 30 °C and nights slightly below 20 °C. Winters have temperatures of around 12 °C during the day and a few degrees above zero at night, though occasionally they can plummit to -10 °C or lower and snow is not impossible as well. Precipitation on the whole is low, but increases from September to December.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max11.2 °C12.6 °C15.3 °C17.7 °C22.2 °C26.1 °C29.5 °C29.2 °C25.3 °C20.3 °C14.7 °C12 °C
Avg Min3 °C3.9 °C6 °C8.5 °C12.6 °C16 °C18.7 °C18.7 °C15.5 °C11.6 °C6.8 °C4.1 °C
Rainfall53.6 mm43.5 mm40.4 mm57.9 mm41.2 mm25.4 mm12.6 mm31.4 mm60.6 mm85.4 mm50.6 mm52 mm
Rain Days6.15.14.86.34.93.51.43.14.16.35.25.6

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Getting There

By Plane

Marseille Provence Airport (MRS) is located 27 kilometres northwest of the city. It is one of the busiest airports in France with over 7 million passengers in 2009. The airport has direct service to almost every major city in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Currently the only flight to North America is to Montreal.

By Train

Gare de Marseille Saint-Charles is the main train station in Marseille. This is a beautiful mid-19th century train station perched on top of a small hill linked to the city by an amazing set of stairs. This train station has 14 dead end platforms and 4 tracks leaving form the station. Outside of the station two lines split towards Vintimille, one track goes towards Briançon and the last track link the train station with the harbour of La Joliette. Avignon, Nice and Lyon have regular connection to and from Marseille and there are many TGV's to Paris, only taking 3 hours!

By Car

The A7 and A55 highways run north/northwest from Marseille while the A50 runs east.

By Bus

Buses travel to Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Cannes, Carpentras, Nice (including the airport), Orange and other destinations.
Eurolines and Intercars have many buses to other countries like Spain, Germany and Switzerland.

By Boat

Corsica

  • SNCM between Marseille and Corsica (Bastia, Ile Rouse, Ajaccio, Propriano, Caliv, Porto Vecchio).

Italy

Spain

Algeria
Algerie Ferries has scheduled services between Marseille and Algerian cities like Algiers, Oran, Bejaia, Skikda and Annaba. SNCM travels between Marseille and Algiers as well.
Cnan Maghreb Lines (website under construction) has boats from Marseille to Oran and Algiers.

Tunisia
Cotunav operates a service between Marseille and Tunis.
SNCM has services from Marseille to Tunis as well.

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Getting Around

By Car

Avoid taking your car if you possibly can. Marseille, at least the centre, has narrow streets, one-way streets, random lane changes and so on which can drive both locals and non-locals crazy. The local drivers have a well deserved reputation for fearlessness - particularly if they are on two wheels. In addition, Marseille has some of the lowest parking fines in France - parking fines are rarely enforced and consequently you will find cars parked (and sometimes double parked) everywhere.

Due to the new tunnel that is being built to try to alleviate some of Marseille's traffic problems, satellite navigational systems such as the Tom Tom are likely to be out of date and dangerous if followed. For instance, following a Tom Tom in the centre of Marseille could take you across newly installed pedestrian areas or tram lines. The one-way system has also completely changed.

Be careful of rogue taxi drivers. While there aren't many, there are a few and a €20 ride can quickly become a €40 ride. If you think you've been cheated get the taxi driver's number (located in the rear of the car, often on the window) and go to the Tourist's Office at 4, La Canebière (near Le Vieux Port) and speak to a representative, they can and will get your money back if you've been ripped off. They will also get the taxi driver in significant trouble.

By Public Transport

Marseille is served by a transit system, the Régie des Transports de Marseille (RTM) comprising 2 subway lines, 2 tram lines and 74 bus lines. If you have any mobility problems, are in a wheel chair or have a child in a push chair, you should be aware that almost every métro station has steps in it somewhere and some will have several flights of stairs - stick to the trams and buses which are a better option.

The tickets for bus/métro can be bought in the cafes, at the subway stations, or on the bus; it is advised to buy a multi journey ticket (carte libertés) at €14 (10 voyages), which are not sold in the buses. The number of transfers is unlimited (including the return journeys) within the one-hour limit between the first boarding and last transfer on all the network (you must validate with each entry to the bus). The subway runs between 05:00 and 00:30. The tram system operates until 00:30 7 days a week. Most bus routes do not operate after 21:00 or so, although a limited network of night buses (Fluobus) operates with infrequent service (only about every 45–60 minutes or so) until about 00:30 or so. Using a taxi is recommended if you need to travel after 21:00. There is no service at all on 1 May.

The Pilote website, includes all the bus, tram and metro schedules but is easier to read than the RTM sites. Moreover, this site repeats the schedules of the majority of transport in common runs of the agglomeration (tram, bus interurban, trains regional) and makes it possible to search for journeys in Marseille and the nearby communes.

Airport transfers are available for €8.30 each way to/from Gare St Charles. Tickets may be bought at the cabin between Hall 1 and Hall 3/4 of the main terminal and at a separate kiosk in the new Gare Routière, after Voie N in the Gare St Charles. The bus runs every 20 minutes on 10, 30, and 50 minutes past the hour. The ride is about 30 minutes. The bus says Navette Aeroport Gare St Charles on it. From Gare St Charles, the metro can get you to most hotels.

Metro tickets allow unlimited transfers onto bus or tram within 1 hour of initial use for the base €1.70 fare but does not include re-entry (1 hour limit) to the metro. A daily ticket (carte journée) costs €5.20.

A Ferry Boat crosses the Old Harbour (Vieux Port). It is a tourist attraction in itself known as the shortest commercial boat ride in Europe. Several other ferries propose connexions with L'Estaque, Les Goudes, La Pointe-Rouge and Le Frioul. They cost €10 return trip but a 1 week RTM transportation pass (€14.50; passport and color photo needed) comprises them (except Frioul island) which is very interesting. Also there are several companies proposing boat tours of the Calanque, like mini-cruises.

By Bike

As in many other French cities, a short-term bicycle hire scheme nicknamed "Le vélo". Marseille has plenty of cycle paths, this makes it possible to get round the city quickly and very reasonably but be warned that the velo stations lock at midnight so if you don't return your bicycle before then you will need to pay for an extra day. It costs 1 euro for a week's subscription. Each time you hire a bike, the first 30 minutes are free, then each hour costs 1 euro. Note that there is a 150 euros deposit which will be charged if you don't return the bike properly.

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Eat

Marseille has a large number of restaurants which cater to the needs of both the budget and luxury traveler. Local specialties include the world-famous bouillabaisse (fish stew) of course, but also pieds et paquets, ratatouille, soupe au pistou, bourride, aioli and so on. Bouillabaisse (fish stew) is made with a combination of fish and shellfish, tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, fennel and saffron. It is normally served with shredded cheese melted on top and toast spread with aioli, garlic-flavored mayonnaise. A bottle of rose wine or red wine would be the ideal combination to wash it down.

Restaurants are clustered in several districts. There is a wealth of dining possibilities in the Vieux Port area and along the Quai de Rive Neuve. Lot of cheaper outdoor cafes outlets are also available behind the Vieux Port area. The restaurants near the Espace Borely offer spectacular view of sunsets overlooking the water.

Le Miramar and L’Epuisette are some of well known and reputed restaurants offering superb seafood and other exotic cuisines.

Bar de la Mairie, 66 Quai du Port (on the Vieux Port on the right of the City Hall). A very popular spot for the long lunch break Marseille's worker are used to taking. Friendly service, good food and wine at a reasonable price. No English spoken whatsoever.
Four des Navettes (next to the St Victor Fort), ☏ +33 4 91 33 32 12. This bakery is famous for its "Navette" dry biscuit which recipe has been kept secret for almost a century. This is one of Marseille's culinary specialities. Not to miss.
La Boite à Sardine, 2 Boulevard de la Libération (m. Canebière Réformés), ☏ +33 4 91 50 95 95, ✉ contact@laboiteasardine.com. Despite its name, there is no canned fish in the menu there. A member of Gourméditerrannée association.
L'Escapade marseillaise, 48, rue Caisserie (behind the Hôtel de Ville). A favourite among locals, this enjoyable restaurant offers a delectable Provençale cuisine.
Chez Toinou, 3, cours Saint Louis (a block away from the Canebière), ☏ +33 811 45 45 45. (aka Toinou Les Fruits de Mer) A local reference when it comes to seafood, especially famed for its oysters. Toinou also acts as a seafood and fresh fish vendor. It is a self-service format. This place is often packed. edit
Le Cercle Rouge, 41 Rue Adolphe Thiers (just off the Canebiere). This unusual restaurant does excellent Corsican tapas such as figatelli sausage, stuffed artichokes, panchetta in honey and red mullet in tomato sauce. Worth booking to get a spot on the lovely terrace. edit
Le Cours en Vert, 102 Cours Julien (near the Metro station), ☏ +33 4 86774169. Vegetarian and organic (biologique) restaurant on the cours Julien. Wholesome and tasty - mains are €10-14. Organic beers and wines are available too. Child-friendly. Service is a little slow. edit
Fayrouz, 62 Cours Julien, ☏ +33 4 91483630. Lebanese restaurant with fixed-price three-course menus around €20-25 each. edit
L'Epuisette, 156 rue du Vallon des Auffes. Its amazing location in the very picturesque Vallon des Auffes harbour is an undeniable plus. Seafood specialities and affordable bouillabaisse.
Les Café des Epices, 4 Rue du Lacydon (their terrace is at the place Jules Verne, just W of Hôtel de Ville), ☏ +33 4 91 91 22 69. Good quality, modern twist, range of set menus.
Le Glacier du Roi, 4 Place de Lenche, ☏ +33 4 91 91 01 16. Perhaps the best ice cream establishment in the city. Yet another member of Gourméditerrannée association.
Chez Michel, 6 rue des Catalans (Bus 83, 81 and 54, stop Catalans), ☏ +33 4 91 52 30 63. For bouillabaisse and other sea food.
Chez Fonfon, 140, Vallon des Auffes (Vallon des Auffes), ☏ +33 4 91 52 14 38, ✉ contact@chez-fonfon.com. Seafood (again bouillabaisse), nice views.
La Table du Fort, 8, rue Fort Notre Dame (by the Vieux Port). A gastronomical restaurant consistently ranked among the city's best, specialized in seafood and fish dishes.
Le Petit Nice Passédat. A 3-star Michelin restaurant on an idyllic location by the sea, facing the islands, held by local celebrity chef Gérald Passédat. It ranks among Southern France's very best restaurants and serves the best bouillabaisse in town at a cost. From €180 pp.

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Drink

In recent years lots of new places have opened in Marseille, at night, three main districts are interesting (besides beaches between april and october where people go and spend the night), the Old Port with lots of bars and pubs (particularly on the southern side and on Cours d'Estienne d'Orves, La Plaine/Cours Julien with numerous alternative and underground bars, and La Joliette/J4 with trendy chic new bars and clubs. However La Friche should not be forgotten, particularly during summer when the very large rooftop hosts dj parties for free every Friday and Saturday.

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Sleep

Hello Marseille Hostel, 12 rue de Breteuil, 13001 Marseille, ☏ +33 9 54 80 75 05, ✉ hellomarseille@gmail.com. It's in a safe area in the very center of Marseille, the “Vieux Port”. They offer shared rooms accommodating 6 people for the single price of €20 only. 24/7 reception & security. multilingual staff, no curfew; Online booking and reservation; Accommodation in 6 persons large rooms with lockers. Breakfast offered (French baguette, butter & marmalade, fruits, coffee at will); Linens included; Single price €20/person/night. Services: laundry, luggage store, printer, free city bikes spot; free Wi-fi everywhere, skype-ready computer at disposal in the lobby. Sunny balcony, cosy lounge, guest kitchen, large TV screen with international channels.
Hotel Lutetia. From €60. Between the St Charles Train Station and the old port +33 491 508 178. A renovated hostel with free internet, great atmosphere, and friendly staff.
Auberge de Jeunesse Marseille - Bois Luzy, Allée des Primevères, ☏ +33 4 91 49 06 18. reception 09:00 - 10:00, 17:00 - 21:00. The hostel is in a chateau not very close to the city centre, about 15 minutes walk from a Metro station.
Adagio Marseille Prado Plage, 46 rue des Mousses, ☏ +33 4 912 297 00. Completely renovated, the residence is in the heart of the Le Prado quarter, 100 metres from the beach, easy to get to via the Avenue du Prado or the Corniche. It lies in a quiet residential area close to a large number of restaurants and the Palais des Congrès. This site can accommodate people with reduced mobility (minor disabilities, elderly people) with an able-bodied escort and families with young children.
Hotel Kyriad Rabatau, Boulevard Rabatau Daniel Matalon 162 (Distance from Vieux-Port 3 km), ☏ +33 4 91 80 31 00, ✉ marseille.rabatau@kyriad.fr. Clean basic hotel. Room includes air-conditioner, bathroom and water boiler. Nearest metro station Sainte-Marguerite Dromel is situated 1.2 km from hotel to south.
New Hotel has four different hotels in Marseille tailored to individual needs. For a quiet and greenery stay, the New Hotel Bompard is particularly suitable, while being close to the city center.
Hotel La résidence du Vieux Port Marseille. Completely renovated in 2010 in a 1950s style with a tribute to Charlotte Perriand and Le Corbusier. The hotel offers beautiful views of Marseille from its balconies and three suites on the top floor have terraces overlooking the Old Harbour and the Church. All the rooms are facing the port.
Best Western La Joliette, 49 Avenue Robert Schuman ,13002, ☏ +33 1 45 74 76 72. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00. Clean, cosy hotel in a quiet location near Joliette metro/tram station. Good location for the port and Le Panier.
Novotel Marseille Vieux Port, 36 Boulevard Charles Livon, ☏ +33 4 96 11 42 11. A four-star resort near the Pharo gardens overlooking the Vieux Port with impressive views. The place to stay for most public figures.
Le Petit Nice Passedat, 17 Rue des Braves, ☏ +33 4 91 59 25 92. One of the city's most upmarket hotels, this villa by the sea boasts the region's only Michelin 3-star restaurant.

View our map of accommodation in Marseille or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

France is one of the best connected countries in the world, with data speed for upload/download ranked among the top 5 in the world. Most hotels and hostels would have in-house facilities to provide free internet access. Many major cities also have initiatives put in place to provide free wi-fi connection in public spaces. Alternatively there are internet cafés available in most cities/towns at a reasonable rate. Some private businesses, such as local cafés (or even the Starbuck's chain), may also provide wi-fi connectivity - keep an eye out for the signs by the shop windows/doors. Also look for the @ symbol prominently displayed, which indicates internet availability. However, with most homes now wired for the internet, cyber cafés are increasingly hard to find, especially outside the major cities.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

To dial an international number from France, the IDD is 00, followed by the country code that you wish to dial, the area code and the phone number.
To call France from abroad, start with the international direct dialing (IDD) code from the country you're in, followed by French country code 33, the area code (drop the first zero in front of the area code), and the phone number. French telephone numbers are rarely given without the area code. The telephone number, including the area code, is made up of 10 digits. They are written in a set of 5 pairs of digits (i.e. 01 xx xx xx xx xx).
In France, the area code designations are: 01 - Paris Area ("Région Ile-de-France"), 02 - northwest, 03 - northeast, 04 - southeast, 05 - southwest, 06 - mobile phone providers. From 2010 onwards, 07 will also be assigned to mobile phone providers in order to cater for the surging demands for mobile phones.

Emergency numbers are 15 (medical aid), 17 (police station) and 18 (fire/rescue). You can also use the European emergency number 112 (perhaps a better choice if you don't speak French). These calls are free and accessible from virtually any phone, including locked cellphones.

France uses the GSM standard of cellular phones (900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands) used in most of the world outside of the U.S. There are several companies (Orange, SFR, Free, Bouygues Télécom and some others MVNOs like Virgin Mobile) offering wireless service. The country is almost totally covered but you may have difficulties using your mobile phone in rural or mountainous areas. If you stay for some time, it may be advisable to buy a pre-paid cell phone card that you can use in any phone that supports the GSM standard on the 900/1800 MHz bands. Then incoming calls and SMSes are free.

Post

La Poste in France is also referred to as the PTT (short for postes, télégraphes et téléphones). The mailboxes are painted bright yellow and often there is a slot for local city mail and another slot for "outside mail". Normally there is a queue in the post office, but most of the post offices have the self service machine installed which is quite easy to operate. Nowadays many of the tabac and even some of the souvenir shops also sell postage stamps. Normally an overseas postcard costs almost as much as sending a letter. Mails sent in France also have a zip code. The first two numbers represent the administrative department (e.g. in Paris' case that would be 75).

Post offices are generally open from 8:00am to 7:00pm Monday through Friday, and 8:00am to noon on Saturdays. Apart from the basic job of mailing letters, most of the post offices do some banking activities also and some even have photocopy machines and cyber cafes for internet access.

For international package services, you might also check options with companies like DHL, UPS or TNT, which have competitive services and prices and might be faster in most cases.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 43.298344
  • Longitude: 5.383221

Accommodation in Marseille

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This is version 37. Last edited at 10:40 on Sep 16, 19 by Utrecht. 92 articles link to this page.

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