Is Marseille safe to visit? A comprehensive safety guide

Published by: Bounce12 February, 2023
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Founded in 600 BC by the Greeks, Marseille (also spelled Marseilles) is the oldest city in France, brimming with artistic, cultural, and architectural treasures. It is the country’s second-largest city, with more than 800,000 people, and receives ten million tourists each year. It is also the leading cruise port in France, with the port area welcoming one million cruise passengers annually.

Visiting Marseille is a dream come true for many, as it boasts numerous ancient landmarks and hidden gems awaiting discovery. The bustling Vieux Port is a must-visit for tourists, found at the end of the Canebière, a major shopping street in the city. While this port city is an ideal destination year-round, its busiest time is between June and August, with beach events and parties on the sand.

With virtually endless things to do and sights to see, it’s easy to get lost while discovering this big city. To lighten your load and enhance security, leave your bags with Bounce luggage storage in Marseille. With a 24/7 customer support team, you can access your belongings anytime.

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Is Marseille safe to visit right now?

Marseille does have a rough past, but it strives to change for the better. If you have qualms about going to this dynamic city, have no fear because Marseille is safe for tourists, with specific areas to avoid.

France’s state of peace remains high, with a Global Peace Index of 1.87, and as one of its major cities, it’s fair to say that Marseille is a peaceful destination worth your time. Its neighborhoods have distinct characteristics and culture, rugged scenery, and lively street art.

However, you’ll still want to treat the city of Marseille with medium risk, keeping an eye out for petty thieves and scammers in bars, restaurants, and crowded areas. Your level of safety might also decrease at night, depending on your location, so avoid walking alone after dark and stay away from dark narrow streets and less crowded places.

We will do our best to present up-to-date safety tips and information, but you should always be mindful of your belongings and exercise a high degree of caution, especially if you’re an inexperienced traveler. We also recommend that you read your government’s travel notice and advice for the city or country you plan to visit before booking your flight, regardless of whether you’re a seasoned traveler.

Top petty crimes and scams in Marseille affecting tourists

Although violent crimes are rare in Marseille, petty crimes and scams are common. By educating yourself, being vigilant, and exercising common sense, you can reduce your exposure to threats during your trip. Below are the typical safety issues you might have to deal with in Marseille and ways to protect yourself and your belongings.

Pickpocketing and purse snatching

There’s a low to medium risk for pickpocketing in Marseille, with inattentive tourists becoming the main targets of thieves. They typically work in a gang, operating in bars, clubs, transport hubs, restaurants, and tourist areas. They may use different techniques to divert your attention. A common tactic of thieves is called crush and grab, typically when taking public transportation. They will swarm you as you get on or off the metro, then pick your pockets as they push you.

So beware of your surroundings, especially when spending time in crowded areas or taking the train or bus. Never leave your valuables or bag unattended—secure them in a Bounce luggage locker.


Another street crime in Marseille is mugging, which isn’t only limited to tourists or newcomers. Take safety precautions to significantly minimize your likelihood of becoming a victim. The rule of thumb is not to have anything more in your wallet than you’re willing to lose. Keep only what’s essential, like one ID, one credit/debit card, and a small amount of cash. Avoid drawing attention to yourself by wearing inconspicuous clothing and dressing like a local.

Scams and frauds

There are different scams and fraudulent behaviors in big cities like Marseille. The gold ring scam is an old trick but can still occur in any major tourist hub. It is when someone pretends to find a gold ring on the ground and offers it to you, then demands payment as a finder’s fee. There’s also the “free” charms scam, which, obviously, isn’t exactly free. Someone will offer a gift—a bracelet, a rose, or anything—then ask for money.

Be suspicious of a stranger who approaches you, especially when touring the city center. Trust your instincts and always be on your guard. If something seems off or you feel unsafe, leave.

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Is Marseille safe to travel alone

About 65 percent of women feel safe walking alone at night in France, and locals and visitors who have enjoyed Marseille’s offerings will tell you that it’s a safe city to visit on your own. Sure, Marseille may not have the most inviting history, but it’s a welcoming major city safe for lone travelers and solo female vacationers. The Bounce Women Travel Safety Index places France 14th on its list of best female travel safety destinations, so feel at ease here using common sense and having a terrific time at the popular tourist sites as well as the unique quiet districts.

As with any large city, shady areas are best avoided, and women still have to take extra care of their safety, especially when going out at night. Avoid walking alone after dark, and be alert when strolling the streets. Never take a dark alley, even if in a rush.

Safest neighborhoods in Marseille

Marseille is undoubtedly a magical, historic city you should add to your itinerary when traveling to France. It isn’t perfect, but it boasts many peaceful spots, including the scenic Port district. Before booking a hotel room, check out our list of safe Marseille neighborhoods and dangerous areas you’d want to stay away from during your trip:

Le Panier

Considered to be one of the safest Marseille neighborhoods is Le Panier. This lively district is like an open-air museum, with a sight to behold on every corner. You can freely wander around its narrow cobblestone streets, admire the street art, and visit its picturesque squares without being too anxious about what could happen.

Le Panier is also ideal for history lovers, as it’s the oldest neighborhood in Marseille. The must-see attractions in this picturesque district are the Maison Diamantée, Hôtel Dieu, and Vieille Charité. You may also want to check out its famed squares, Place de Lenche, Place des Moulins, and Place de Lorette.

Le Vieux Port

Another safe neighborhood in Marseille is the Le Vieux Port or the Old Port of Town. Le Vieux Port district has it all: museums, cafés, markets, and historical buildings. You can also take a relaxing stroll on its streets and experience what makes it the social and cultural center of Marseille. It’s a beloved city destination for its proximity to many main tourist attractions.

La Corniche

If you want a safe and quiet vacation in Marseille, La Corniche is the place to go. This neighborhood is famous for its beaches, architecture, and stunning views. It’s ideal for visitors who want to go for a leisurely stroll away from the hustle-bustle of the city. Its dining options may be limited, but what you can get there is sure of excellent quality.

Although most neighborhoods in Marseille are safe, some aren’t worth your trip due to their high crime rates and risks. Be especially careful when you’re in the northern districts, which have given Marseille a reputation as the country’s outsider city.

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Is Marseille public transportation safe?

In general, there’s no significant risk with public transit in Marseille. Its law enforcement agencies are effective, though the city is still not 100% safe, as with other places worldwide. The most common transportation option is the train, although taking a taxi is safer when traveling at night since most subways are usually dim-lit. Just be careful of rogue cab drivers raising the price during the ride.

Consider renting a car to make it easier for you to go around. Trips on highways typically don’t have drama, but parking can be tricky if you leave your vehicle in a dark area. Remember to lock the doors and windows and not leave your valuables in plain sight and unattended inside. When driving, the use of mobile phones with earpieces or headsets is forbidden. The last thing you want as you visit Marseille is to deal with the police.

Important emergency numbers in Marseille

You’ll never know when you’ll face a dangerous situation, so it’s important to keep emergency numbers during your trip so you can call the proper authorities immediately. Don’t wait until the last minute and save the following emergency and non-emergency hotlines in Marseille. Also, be aware of your embassy number when traveling.

  • France country code: +33
  • Police: 13
  • Medical Emergencies: 15
  • Fire Services: 18
  • European Emergencies: 112
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Prepare for a safe trip to Marseille

It’s no secret that the beautiful city of Marseille has been facing serious issues, like sub-standard public transport, poor quality housing, and failing public services. It may not have the best reputation for safety, but the local authority is doing its best to make it a safe city for anyone to visit.

Thankfully, having a safe trip to Marseille is possible with proper planning and following safety travel tips. We know you'll admire the pretty Provencal facades, the Panier District, and lively places in the city where cafes and restaurants are waiting to be enjoyed. Knowing How to Get Around Marseille should also be part of the preparation process, and if you need help finding the best places in the city, read our guide in Where to Stay in Marseille: The Ultimate Guide.

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