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



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.




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



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.


  • 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.


  • 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.





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.

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.



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


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



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.

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



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

There is a new tram system on its way, check the RTM website for more updates (in French).
Also, there are two metro lines in Marseille running from 5:00am to 9:00pm after which buses run the same route above the ground. It consists of two lines: Line 1 (blue) between Castellane and La Rose and Line 2 (red) between Sainte-Marguerite-Dromel and Bougainville.
An extensive bus network serves the city and suburbs of Marseille.

A ferry 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 (13€) 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.




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.




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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Keep Connected


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.


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.


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.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 43.298344
  • Longitude: 5.383221

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