One of the pleasures of traveling to the southern city of Marseille, France, is that you're not likely to encounter much rain. Average rainfall days number just 55 per year here, and the rainy days tend to be concentrated in fall and winter. Visit during July, the driest month of the year, and you may not see any rain at all. Plus, with an average temperature around 84°F (29°C), the UV index is a far bigger threat in a Provençal summer than the risk of rain.
Still, unlikely isn't the same as impossible. Although the average weather in Marseille tends toward high temperatures and low rain, you never know what the weather will bring you next. If the weather forecast calls for some precipitation when you visit the city, don't worry. Rainy days don't have to stop you enjoying Marseille.
Don't forget to make things easier on yourself by dropping off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Marseille. With such a high average temperature in the city, you don't want to carry more than you need to even if it isn't raining. Check out these travel tips on how to spend a rainy day in Marseille, and you'll soon see that there's something to enjoy in this location no matter what the weather decides to do.
Marseille is one of the most ancient cities in all of Europe, and that's mostly because of its port. Therefore, whether you visit the city in the rain or not, you should definitely check out the Vieux Port to see the still-lively heart of this age-old place. If it's raining, make sure you stop in one of the many seafood restaurants that line the port for a bowl of bouillabaisse. This iconic Marseille soup is made with at least three different kinds of fish, vegetables, and herbs, making it the perfect comfort food for a wet day.
If you're not in the mood for seafood, stop by Chez Fonfon for a cassoulet instead. This hearty dish from southwest France is made with beans, pork, sausage, and duck confit. It will definitely fill you up and warm you from the inside out on a cold, rainy day. If you can find cover, the Old Port is a great place to find the best street food in Marseille.
After lunch, walk off your meal by strolling around the Vieux Port. Check out the many stalls selling souvenirs, art, and local handicrafts. You can also take a ride on the carousel or visit the Aquarium du Vieux Port to learn more about the local marine life.
If you get tired of walking in the rain, hop on one of the boats that offer short tours of Marseille's harbor. You'll be able to see all the sights from the comfort of a dry, indoor space while learning about the city's long history as a major port.
Notre-Dame de la Garde
No trip to Marseille is complete without a visit to Notre-Dame de la Garde, the city's iconic hilltop basilica. This landmark is visible from just about anywhere in Marseille, so you can't miss it. And, since it's located at the highest point in the city, it's the perfect place to go for a rainy day walk and enjoy beautiful views.
To get to Notre-Dame de la Garde, you can either take a bus or walk up the hill from the Vieux Port. The walk will take you about 30 minutes, but it's a steep climb. If you're not up for it, hop on bus 60 or 82 from the port and ride it to the top.
Once you arrive at Notre-Dame de la Garde, take some time to admire the views of Marseille and the surrounding area. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the nearby Calanques National Park. If it's raining, you can still enjoy the views from inside the basilica.
This 19th-century church is worth a visit even on a sunny day, but it's especially beautiful when it's lit up at night. If you're in Marseille on a rainy evening, make sure to stop by Notre-Dame de la Garde for some stunning nighttime views of the city.
If you're looking for indoor activities to do on a rainy day in Marseille, there are plenty of world-class museums to choose from. For a taste of local history, head to the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (MUCEM). This museum is located in the Vieux Port, so you can easily combine it with a visit to the port and Notre-Dame de la Garde.
MUCEM is dedicated to the history and cultures of the Mediterranean region. It has permanent exhibitions on topics like the Roman Empire, maritime trade, and immigration. There are also temporary exhibitions that change regularly. Check the museum's website to see what's on during your visit.
Another great option for indoor activities is the Marseille History Museum (Musée d'Histoire de Marseille). This museum is located in the Hôtel de Ville, Marseille's city hall. It covers the history of the city from its founding by the Greeks in 600 BC to the present day.
The museum has a wide range of exhibits, including archaeological artifacts, paintings, and sculptures. There's also a section on the city's maritime history, which is especially relevant given Marseille's location on the Mediterranean Sea.
If you're interested in art, make sure to visit the Musée Cantini. This museum is located in an 18th-century mansion and it houses a collection of modern and contemporary art. The collection includes works by Picasso, Matisse, and other well-known artists.
There are also several smaller museums in Marseille that are worth a visit. These include the Museum of African Art (Musée d'Art Africain), the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions (Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires), and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Musée d'Art Contemporain).
Palais Longchamps is a large 19th-century building that houses several museums. It's located in the center of Marseille, near the Vieux Port. The most notable museums in Palais Longchamps are the Natural History Museum (Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle) and the Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts).
The Natural History Museum has a wide range of exhibits on topics like zoology, botany, and geology. The Museum of Fine Arts has a collection of paintings, sculptures, and other works of art from the 14th century to the present day.
Exploring one of the most charming districts of Marseille is a perfect activity for a sunny day. But the rain doesn't have to prevent you from wandering through the cobblestone streets of Le Panier and taking in the lively atmosphere.
This historic district is located on a hill near the Vieux Port. It's known for its narrow streets, colored houses, and views of the city. If you're looking for souvenirs or local handicrafts, Le Panier is the place to go. There are several shops selling Marseille soap, Provençal fabrics, and other traditional products.
Plan de Campagne
If you're looking for an indoor activity that's a bit out of the ordinary, head to Plan de Campagne. This large shopping center is located about 20 kilometers from Marseille. It has over 200 stores, making it the perfect place to find gifts or just browse for fun.
In addition to its many shops, Plan de Campagne also has a cinema, a bowling alley, and a food court. There's something for everyone at this popular destination.
Even if you're not a sports fan, a visit to the Stade Velodrome is worth it for the view. This stadium is located in the southern part of Marseille and it's home to the city's professional soccer team, Olympique de Marseille.
The stadium has a capacity of 67,000 spectators and it offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. If you're lucky enough to catch a game, you'll experience the passionate atmosphere that makes soccer so popular in Marseille.
A tour of the stadium takes one hour and will take you through every part of the stadium from the dressing rooms to the nosebleed seats under the striking undulating roof. The largest club soccer stadium in France, this controversial structure has become a symbol of the city for better or for worse and is a great place to explore on one of Marseille's rare rainy days.
The Cité Radieuse is a large housing complex that was built in the 1950s. It's located in the northern part of Marseille and it's one of the most interesting examples of architecture from this period.
The complex is made up of 337 apartments, spread over 12 stories. The design was inspired by the work of Le Corbusier, a Swiss architect who was one of the leading figures in the Modernist movement.
A visit to the Cité Radieuse gives you a chance to see how people lived in this innovative and experimental community. You can also enjoy views of Marseille from the top of the building.
If you're interested in architecture or history, a visit to the Cité Radieuse is a must. It's one of the most unique places to see in Marseille, and it's a great activity for a rainy day.
In addition to the sights and activities mentioned above, there are plenty of other things to do in Marseille on a rainy day. If you're looking for some retail therapy, head to one of the city's many shopping malls. La Valentine and Centre Bourse are two of the most popular options.
For a more unique shopping experience, check out the local markets. There are several markets located throughout the city, each with its own specialties. For example, the Cours Julien market is known for its arts and crafts, while the Noailles market is known for its fresh produce.
If you're interested in learning about Marseille's African heritage, make sure to visit the Docks des Suds. This former dockyard has been transformed into a cultural center with a focus on Africa. The center hosts a wide range of events, including concerts, exhibitions, and workshops.
And last but not least, don't forget to sample some of the local cuisine. Marseille is known for its Mediterranean food, so make sure to try dishes like bouillabaisse (a fish stew) and ratatouille (a vegetable stew). You can find these dishes and more at any of the city's many restaurants.
Thanks to its warm and dry Mediterranean climate and low average rainfall days, Marseille isn't a city where you need to worry too much about bad weather. Especially in summer, the typical pattern is for hot dry days and warm evenings perfect for outdoor activities. However, the weather here is as unpredictable as anywhere else. Located between the sea and the mountains and known for the powerful Mistral wind, Marseille can throw some precipitation your way at any time of year. Rain is especially common in the winter, and even snow is a faint possibility in this Riviera city.
Luckily, there's plenty to do in Marseille that doesn't require the sun. If you find yourself looking for activities that will keep you out of the worst of the weather, Marseille has some great museums, churches, historical sites, and restaurants to offer. In fact, you can see some of the most impressive attractions in the city while still avoiding the worst of the weather even during the coldest month of the year.
The items listed above represent some of the best things to do in Marseille, whether it's raining outdoors or not. So drop off your bags at a Marseille luggage locker and get ready to enjoy one of France's biggest and most beautiful cities. There's far too much to see and do in Marseille to let a little rain stop you from having fun.