The second-largest city in France after Paris, Marseille is one of the country's major ports and economic drivers. Located on the south coast, Marseille is France's biggest port and the second biggest in the entire Mediterranean. It's also the oldest city in France, and predates the founding of the country itself by more than a thousand years. Established by Greeks around 600 BC, Marseille has been a major Mediterranean port for millennia.
It's this port that has given Marseille its unique character. For centuries, it has been a point of contact between France and the rest of the world, making Marseille one of the most cosmopolitan cities in all of Europe. Marseille combines Mediterranean, African, and Arab influences while remaining undeniably French. As a result, it's one of the most fascinating cities in France to visit.
A weekend in Marseille
A weekend in Marseille won't be enough to see everything the city has to offer, but it will give you a good sense of the major attractions. Drop off your bags at a Marseille luggage storage service and get ready to enjoy France's second city.
- The Old Port of Marseille has been the heart of the city for more than 2000 years. Boats still dock here from around the world, and fishermen sell their catch right by the water. It's a great place to drink in the atmosphere and perhaps enjoy a plate of moules-frites while you watch the world go by.
- The church of Notre Dame de la Garde is one of the main attractions in the city. Perched on a hill overlooking the city, the church was where sailors went to pray for safe voyages and leave offerings to ensure their return. It’s a fascinating place to explore, and the views over the city and the coast are unparalleled.
- MuCEM is another of Marseille's top attractions. This unique museum focuses on Mediterranean culture and explores the various civilizations that have held sway in southern Europe and northern Africa. It's worth visiting for its modern architecture alone, besides the fascinating story it tells.
Like many ancient cities, Marseille is ideal for exploring on foot. Plus, the unique charm of the city is best experienced by slowing down. Drop off your bags at a luggage locker in Marseille to make things easier on yourself. The lighter you travel, the more you'll get to see of this fascinating city.
Off the beaten path in Marseille
Beyond its best-known attractions, Marseille has plenty of hidden gems to discover. Allow yourself to venture off the tourist track, and you'll see some unforgettable sights. Leave your bags behind at a Marseille bag storage and see another side to the city.
- In a Mediterranean city like Marseille, often the best thing to do is just enjoy a stroll on a sunny day. La Corniche, a seafront promenade that follows the coast from the Old Port, is the perfect place to do it. Enjoy ocean views and mingle with the locals as you soak up the atmosphere of Marseille.
- Enjoy some tranquility at the Palais Longchamp. This palace contains a fine art museum that is well worth exploring, and its carefully sculpted gardens make it one of the best parks in France. It's a perfect place to escape the chaos of the city for a while.
- Explore the atmospheric fortress of the Château d'If. This island castle dates back to the 1500s and was made famous when novelist Alexander Dumas used it in his novel The Count of Monte Cristo.
What to do alone in Marseille
As every solo traveler knows, traveling by yourself can allow you to get even more intimately acquainted with a place. Solo travel in Marseille allows you to immerse yourself in the vibrant life of the city. Leave your bags behind at a Marseille suitcase storage and enjoy your solo adventure.
- Explore the complicated history of the city at the Marseille History Museum. This museum tells the city's long story from the first Greek and Phoenician traders to the role the city played in the Second World War and beyond. It's the ideal way to get to grips with the story of Marseille.
- Check out the lively neighborhood of Le Panier. Historically, this neighborhood was where Marseille's constant stream of recent immigrants usually wound up. However, these days it's becoming increasingly trendy, with lots of cool boutiques, fun cafés, and interesting street art.
- Check out France's largest football stadium at the Stade Velodrome. This striking building is worth the visit for its unique architecture, but the best way to enjoy it is by attending a game of local team Olympique Marseille.
The best souvenirs in Marseille
Marseille has been a center of soap-making since the twelfth century. The city even has a soap museum with an impressive gift shop selling traditional Marseille soap. La Licorne is also a great old-fashioned shop to get a variety of soaps made the traditional way, without modern chemical additives.
Pastis is the quintessential liquor of southern France, and it's made in Marseille. Pick up a bottle of this anise-based liquor to take home with you from La Maison du Pastis. Or, if you fall in love with the atmospheric crack of petanque balls that you'll hear throughout Marseille on a summer evening, head to La Boule Bleue to pick up a set of balls that will always remind you of Marseille.
8 Best Ways to Experience Marseille in 2023
This famous French port city was established in six hundred BC and is awash with history. Culturally, it has always been a mixing pot of people from North Africa, southern Europe and other diverse destinations. One minute you can be buying fish from the Vieux Port as the small fishing boats arrive with their day’s catch, the next you can be climbing narrow stone steps to the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde.
There are plenty of things to keep you busy and entertained if you travel to this city. Here, however, carrying bags is going to prove nothing but a hindrance and this is where Bounce luggage storage services come to the rescue. They have teamed with local partners the world over to offer safe and secure storage facilities where travellers can easily leave their bags without having to worry.
Best wine tours from Marseille – OohProvence
If you're a wine buff or someone who aspires to be, Ooh Provence is a company that can help you. They believe that wine is more than just something you drink. For them, wine offers an insight into both culture and history. Whether you are staying in one of the local hotels or arriving on a cruise ship, they can pick you up and take you on a wine tour that will both broaden your knowledge and tempt your tastebuds. Wine tours are not all that they are about either. To find out more about their wide variety of tours you can contact them by emailing email@example.com or by calling 336–518–076–55
Best cultural and historic tours – Provence Explorer – Day Tours
If your time is precious and you don't want to waste it researching and trying to find the best deal available, Provence Explorer does the legwork for you. This company specialises in private day tours and are experts in their field. They delight in custom tours and exposing not only Marseille but the neighbouring regions and taking their clients on authentic visits to destinations that are sometimes off the beaten tourist path. Call them at 339–511–463–86 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Best shore excursions from Marseille – Bonjour Provence Tours Marseille
This is a company that will pick you up as you step off your boat and guarantee to have you there at least an hour before it departs again. During your time with them, you and your smaller touring party get to visit some of the most popular local attractions. You can be assured that your driver–guide will be both charming and competent. Whether you want to visit some of the local markets or venture further afield to the breath-taking lavender fields of the Valence, Bonjour Provence will be happy to tailor any tour to your specifications. Email them at email@example.com or call them on 337–676–778–25.
Best sailing tours from Marseille – Goelette Alliance
What could be more entrancing and relaxing than cruising along the Mediterranean coast with Marseille laid out before you? Sailing on the wooden decks of the schooner Alliance is a bit like stepping back in time. This magnificent ship will carry you to some of Marseille's most fabulous places. Many of them are difficult to access from the land or have a totally different character when seen from the sea. You can opt for a range of maritime adventures ranging from sunset cruises through to full-day voyages. But you can be assured of a lifetime of memories. Contact them on 337-690–466–46 or email them at contact@firstname.lastname@example.org
Best free walking tour Marseille – Marseille Free Walking Tour
One of the problems with tours is that occasionally you feel you didn't get value for money. Marseille Free Walking Tours provide a wide range of informative and fun walks and you get to decide whether to pay anything and if so, how much. It is an unusual system that has worked well for all concerned because the guides are good at their jobs. After that, if you wish to have them design a more personalized tour to your own specifications, they are happy to oblige. To find out when the tours leave and what else they have on offer call 33-6-52-57-78-95 or email them at email@example.com
Best bus tours in Provence-Provence Private Tour
Here is a company that goes out of their way to allow their clients to participate in their own tour creation process. You can hop onto one of their existing tours or you can design one to suit your own needs and interests. They will even allow you to take elements from their existing tours and combine them into something unique to yourself. They have a range of vehicles and can cater to groups of two or three people right through to coach loads. They also offer pickup from your cruise ship and a guarantee to get you back on time. For more information email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Best combination tours – Domitia Tours
Marseille is sometimes referred to as the gateway to Provence. Leave the city and venture inland, and suddenly you encounter an altogether different side of France. Whether you want to explore other ancient cities such as Arles or Nimes or you want to experience the magnificence of the most famous lavender fields in the world, this company will be happy to take you there. Their local guides will transform your adventure into something truly informative. Call 336–520–110–43 or email at email@example.com
Best food tours – Provence Amazing Tours
To experience the cuisine in this region is to gain an insight into the culture and the people that live there. This company will soon demonstrate that as their gourmet guide leads you to some of the most delicious treats in Marseille or Aix en Provence. Every dish will have a story behind it and as this is revealed for you, you will begin to find the local food as fascinating as the regional history. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 337-834–562–60.