Is there a bad time to visit Marseille? One of the major French cities and one of the oldest cities in Europe, this Provence metropolis enjoys a Mediterranean climate that makes for pleasant weather all year round. Mild winters give way to hot summers, but the northerly wind known as le mistral helps to keep temperatures manageable even in the summer.
Marseille is a city with a lot to offer. You'll be able to explore Mediterranean culture in the city's top museums, enjoy incredible food, or simply spend your summer lounging on glorious beaches. The city really is a year-round destination, so for that reason, it's important to have a clear idea of what you want to do before you visit. Naturally, if swimming and water sports are something you're keen to enjoy, you'll want the months with the highest sea temperature, which will be the summer peak season. Alternatively, if you want to enjoy urban culture, you may be better off exploring the city during the low season when you can enjoy lower hotel rates and fewer tourist crowds.
Whenever you plan to visit Marseille, you'll have a much better time if you drop off your bags at a Marseille luggage locker. Traveling light means you can enjoy the best of this legendary city, whether you're looking to enjoy outdoor activities or more of an indoor vacation.
Summer in Marseille
There was a time, back in the days before air conditioning and mass tourism, when cities like Marseille on the French Riviera became virtual ghost towns. The high heat of summer sent everyone who could afford it further north to escape the sun.
However, that's no longer the case. Summer is most definitely peak season for tourism all over the French Riviera, and Marseille is no different. Partly, that's because the city enjoys access to some incredible outdoor activities, including the calanques, beautiful ocean inlets just outside the city that make for incredible places to hike, swim, dive, or just enjoy the scenery.
The average temperature in Marseille in June is 23 degrees Celsius (73 Fahrenheit), and in August it's 26 degrees Celsius (79 Fahrenheit). That said, temperatures can get much higher. It's not uncommon for the mercury to hit 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) or more in July and August.
That's why the high winds of the mistral are such a welcome relief. This northerly wind often kicks up in the afternoon, providing some respite from the heat of the day. If you're planning on spending time outdoors, it's best to visit Marseille in the morning when it's cooler and there's less wind. Alternatively, if you want to enjoy Marseille nightlife, you'll want to stay out until the mistral dies down later in the evening.
The French Riviera's peak season runs from mid-June through to the end of August, so you can expect Marseille to be at its busiest (and most expensive) during this time. If you're looking for a more affordable vacation, it's best to visit during the low or shoulder seasons.
Still, if you can afford it and you can stand the heat, the summer is a great time to visit Marseille. You'll find lots of live music at festivals and concerts in and around the city, and very little chance of rain in June, July, or August. Average monthly rainfall in Marseille is just millimeters in the summer months. July is also the least humid month historically, so you can expect low relative humidity along with an impressive average high temperature right through the summer.
One of the best events of the summer is the French national celebration of Bastille Day. The whole country shuts down for a public holiday on the 14th of July, and there are fireworks, parades, and parties all over Marseille. If you're in the city on Bastille Day, be sure to stick around for the celebrations.
Visiting Marseille during the summer season means you won't need to pack a lot of clothes. Shorts and T-shirts are the order of the day, and if you plan on doing a lot of swimming, it's a good idea to bring multiple bathing suits. The UV index will probably be high, so sunscreen is essential. But even at night, the average low temperature remains quite high, so you won't need anything more than a light jacket or sweater in case of rain.
Fall in Marseille
While summer is the peak season for tourism in Marseille, fall is definitely the best time to visit if you're looking for a more affordable vacation. Hotel rates drop significantly after the summer rush and there are still plenty of things to do in the city.
The weather in Marseille in September and October is still pleasant, with average temperatures of 21 degrees Celsius (70 Fahrenheit) and 18 degrees Celsius (64 Fahrenheit) respectively. November sees a significant drop in temperature, but you can still expect an average of 15 degrees Celsius (59 Fahrenheit).
Rain is more common in the fall months, but Marseille is still one of the driest cities in France. You can expect an average of just millimeters of rain in September and October, and slightly more in November.
One of the best things about visiting Marseille in the fall is that you'll avoid the crowds of summer tourists. The city feels much more relaxed and you'll be able to enjoy all the attractions at your own pace. If you're looking for a quiet vacation, fall is definitely the best time to visit Marseille.
Of course, if you're planning on spending time outdoors, you'll need to pack a jacket or sweater. The temperature can drop quite low at night, so it's always best to be prepared.
The fall season also brings lots of enjoyable events to Marseille, such as the Jazz des Cinq Continents music festival in October and the Nuits du Sud world music festival in November. That makes this the best time to visit Marseille for those who are more interested in enjoying the city's culture and history. Visiting museums and historic monuments is more tempting when the weather is not as bright and sunny as it gets in summer. And depending how tolerant you are of the cold, fall in Marseille is still warm enough to enjoy plenty of outdoor activities and even go swimming if you don't mind cooler water. If you do, stick to exploring the vieux port and the church of Notre Dame de la Garde, and the weather certainly won't stop you from having a good time.
Winter in Marseille
While winter is the low season for tourism in Marseille, the city is still a great place to visit if you're looking for a more affordable vacation. Hotel rates are at their lowest from December to February, and there are plenty of things to do in the city, even when it's cold outside.
Of course, you'll need to pack some warm clothes if you're visiting Marseille in winter. The average temperature in December is just 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit), and it gets even colder in January and February, with an average of 8 degrees Celsius (46 Fahrenheit). This is the time of year you'll see the lowest temperature you're likely to find in Marseille, but if you're used to more northerly climates, it probably still won't feel that cold.
Snow is rare in Marseille, but it does happen occasionally. If you're visiting during the winter months, be sure to pack a jacket or sweater and some comfortable shoes.
Even though it's cold outside, there are still plenty of things to do in Marseille during the winter months. The city is home to numerous museums and art galleries, as well as historic monuments like the Notre Dame de la Garde. And if you don't mind the cold, you can still enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and cycling.
If you're in Marseille during the festive season, don't miss the chance to check out the Christmas market on Quai de la Fraternité. The market is open from late November to early January, and it's a great place to find unique gifts and souvenirs.
So, even though winter is the low season for tourism in Marseille, there are still plenty of reasons to visit the city during this time of year. You'll find lower prices on hotels and attractions, and you can still enjoy all the things that make Marseille such a great destination.
Spring in Marseille
The spring months are a great time to visit Marseille, as the weather is getting warmer and the city is starting to come alive after the winter. The average temperature in March is 12 degrees Celsius (54 Fahrenheit), and it gets even warmer in April and May, with an average of 16 degrees Celsius (61 Fahrenheit).
This is the time of year when the city starts to fill up with tourists, so you'll need to book your hotel room in advance if you're planning a trip. Prices will also start to go up for attractions and activities, so it's best to plan your vacation ahead of time.
If you're visiting Marseille in the spring, be sure to pack some light clothing and comfortable shoes. The city can be quite warm during this time of year, and you'll want to be able to enjoy all the outdoor activities on offer.
Spring is also the start of the festival season in Marseille. Spring events worth checking out in the city include the Marseille Jazz Festival, the Festival de la Cité, and the Fête du Soleil. As spring turns to summer, the city's beaches begin to open up, and although the sea temperature stays quite low usually until May or June, it may well be warm enough to enjoy a beach day in the fantastic scenery of coastal Provence. And even if the weather doesn't cooperate, there are so many indoor activities in Marseille that you won't miss out even if you visit during one of the rare spells of rain the city gets.
So, if you're looking for a great time to visit Marseille, the spring months are a good option. The weather is getting warmer, the city is starting to fill up with tourists, and there are plenty of things to do. Just be sure to book your hotel room in advance and pack some light clothing.
Marseille is a city that gets all four seasons. However, the Mediterranean climate ensures that it never gets really cold here. And although December may be the coldest month, the most humid month, and the rainiest time of year, you're still likely to get lots of sunny and relatively warm days even in the coldest part of the year.
From that point of view, there is never really a bad time to visit Marseille. But if you want to enjoy the sunniest weather possible and the kind of heat that lets you bathe in the crystal-clear sea this part of Provence is known for, the busy months of June, July, and August are probably the best time for you to visit. Just be prepared to pay more for your flights and hotels, since so many people want to visit the city during the summer.
If, on the other hand, you're traveling on a budget, consider visiting Marseille during the winter. The city never really gets that cold, so if you prepare for cooler weather, you can have a great time exploring indoor attractions and even getting some outdoor time, though you won't be swimming much.
And if you want the best of both worlds, the shoulder seasons of fall and spring offer a mix of dry weather and warm temperatures with lower prices and fewer crowds.
Ultimately, whenever you choose to visit, you'll find that Marseille has everything you need to have a great trip. Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Marseille and you'll have the best time no matter what the weather decides to throw at you.