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Marseille Travel Guide: Tips & Info For a Perfect Trip

City Guide January 24, 2024

 

 

Welcome to Marseille, France’s second-largest city and a hub of culture, history, and stunning Mediterranean scenery. As the oldest city in France, Marseille, often referred to as de Marseille by locals, offers a unique blend of ancient charm and modern vibrancy. This guide aims to provide you with all the information and tips for Marseille you need to ensure a perfect trip.

Whether you're visiting Marseille for a short stay or planning to stay in Marseille for an extended period, there's a lot to explore in this dynamic city. From the sandy beaches to the historic streets of Le Panier, Marseille invites you to discover its rich heritage and lively contemporary culture.

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As you wander through France's second-largest city, from the bustling train station to each unique part of Marseille, Nannybag ensures your exploration is unencumbered and comfortable. Whether navigating the historic streets or heading to a café, Nannybag's service provides the freedom to enjoy this vibrant city's facets fully.

 

Exploring Marseille

Marseille Beaches

Begin your Marseille adventure at the city's stunning beaches. Prado Beaches, a series of sandy stretches along the Mediterranean coast, offer a perfect haven for relaxation, swimming, and sunbathing. Meanwhile, Plage des Catalans, nestled close to the city center, is a local favorite for its vibrant atmosphere and clear waters. Both beaches are fantastic spots to unwind, play beach sports, or enjoy the Marseille sun.

Easily accessible by public transport, such as buses and metro lines. Beach amenities, including showers and beach cafes, are available.

 

Vieux Port

The Vieux Port, or Old Port, is the pulsating heart of Marseille. This historic harbor is lined with cafes and restaurants where you can savor fresh seafood and local delicacies. The lively atmosphere is complemented by the sight of boats bobbing in the water. The daily fish market here offers a glimpse into the local way of life and is a testament to Marseille's rich maritime heritage.

Central location within walking distance of major city attractions. Well-connected by public transport.

 

Le Panier

Le Panier, the historic quarter of Marseille, is a delightful maze of narrow streets, vibrant facades, and artistic expression. As the oldest part of the city, it exudes a unique charm that reflects Marseille's rich history. The area is dotted with art galleries, quaint shops, and cafes, making it an ideal spot for leisurely exploration and to experience the local bohemian culture.

Highly walkable area. Explore its many art galleries, boutique shops, and quaint cafes. The area is also known for its vibrant street art, which adds a contemporary touch to its historical ambiance.

 

Notre Dame de la Garde

Perched on the highest point in Marseille, Notre Dame de la Garde is an iconic basilica offering sweeping views of the city and the Mediterranean Sea. Known affectionately as "La Bonne Mère" to locals, this landmark is steeped in history and religious significance. The basilica's interior is as stunning as its panoramic views, with intricate mosaics and artworks.

Easily accessible by a bus ride from the city center. The climb to the basilica can also be a rewarding hike for those looking for a more active visit.

 

Calanques National Park

For nature enthusiasts, the Calanques National Park is a must-visit. With its dramatic limestone cliffs diving into azure waters, this natural wonder offers some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the South of France. The park is ideal for hiking, with trails leading to hidden coves and scenic viewpoints. It's also a popular spot for kayaking and rock climbing.

Wear comfortable hiking shoes and bring plenty of water. Accessible by public transport followed by a hike, or consider joining a guided tour for a more comprehensive experience.

 

Boutique Hotel Marseille

Choosing a boutique hotel in Marseille means immersing yourself in a setting that perfectly blends stylish comfort with the distinct local character of the city. These hotels, often set in beautifully renovated buildings, offer individually designed rooms, each telling its own story of Marseille. With attentive service and often housing their own quaint cafes or bars, these boutique hotels provide an intimate and authentic Marseille experience.

C2 Hotel

Nestled in the heart of Marseille, this hotel is housed in a 19th-century mansion and offers private beach access, an indoor pool, and a luxurious spa.

 

Hotel La Residence du Vieux Port

This hotel boasts stunning views of the Old Port and is renowned for its retro-chic décor that reflects the 1950s glamour.

 

Alex Hotel & Spa

A modern boutique hotel offering a spa and wellness center, it's perfect for those seeking relaxation after exploring the city.

It’s advisable to book these hotels in advance to secure the best deals. Many are centrally located, providing easy access to the city’s main attractions.

 

Vallon des Auffes

Vallon des Auffes is an enchanting fishing village just a short distance from Marseille's bustling city center. This idyllic spot is like stepping into a different world, with its small, colorful fishermen's houses and traditional “pointus” boats bobbing in the water. The restaurants here serve some of the freshest seafood in Marseille, often caught by the local fishermen.

Reachable by a short bus ride or a pleasant walk from the city center. It's a perfect spot for photography enthusiasts and those seeking a peaceful escape from the city.

 

Le Petit Nice

Le Petit Nice, a Michelin-starred restaurant, is synonymous with luxury and fine dining in Marseille. Run by renowned chef Gérald Passédat, this restaurant is celebrated for its innovative approach to Mediterranean cuisine, using fresh, local seafood. The dining experience is enhanced by the breathtaking views of the sea, making it an unforgettable culinary adventure.

Reservations are highly recommended, especially during peak seasons. The restaurant is located along the coastline, providing a romantic and serene setting. It's perfect for special occasions or for those who want to experience the pinnacle of Marseille's culinary scene.

 

Street Art

Marseille's street art scene vividly reflects the city's dynamic and diverse culture. The streets serve as a canvas for local and international artists, with murals and graffiti that transform ordinary walls into extraordinary artworks. Each piece tells a story, whether it’s about the city's history, its people, or contemporary social issues. This open-air gallery offers an alternative and colorful way to explore Marseille.

 

Key Locations for Street Art

Le Panier

This historic neighborhood is filled with narrow streets where you can find street art blending with ancient architecture.

 

Cours Julien

Known as a cultural and artistic hub, Cours Julien is home to numerous murals and is the heart of Marseille's urban art scene. The best way to explore Marseille's street art is on foot. Free to explore, these areas are also dotted with cafes and boutiques, making them perfect for a leisurely day of exploration and relaxation.

 

Public Transport in Marseille

Marseille's public transportation system is a reliable and convenient way to navigate the city. The extensive network includes buses, trams, and a metro system that links the city center with outer neighborhoods and popular beaches. This makes exploring Marseille's diverse attractions, from historical sites to modern shopping districts, both easy and affordable.

 

 

Key Tips for Using Public Transport

Multi-Transport Passes

Consider purchasing a day or multi-day transport pass for unlimited travel, which can be more economical and convenient for extensive exploration.

 

RTM Mobile App

The official RTM (Régie des Transports Métropolitains) mobile app is used for real-time schedules, route planning, and ticket purchases. It’s a handy tool for navigating the city’s public transport network.

 

Information on routes, schedules, and fares is readily available online on the RTM website. Bus and tram stops are well-marked throughout the city, and metro stations are easily accessible.

 

The Count of Monte Cristo’s Château d'If

The Château d'If is a must-visit for fans of Alexandre Dumas' “The Count of Monte Cristo”. This fortress-turned-prison, situated on a small island off the coast of Marseille, is steeped in history and legend. It offers a unique glimpse into 16th-century French history and the tales that have emerged from its walls. The fortress also provides spectacular views of Marseille and the Mediterranean Sea, making it a picturesque spot for history buffs and sightseers alike.

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