Things To Do In Merseille
Marseille's oceanic beauty flourishes at the dynamic Vieux Port (Old Port), where the fresh catch of the day is sold every morning. A stroll along the coasts and the beachfront streets and cycling tracks is an excellent opportunity to enjoy Marseilles around sunlight-drenched inlets and sandy shorelines. Have a taste of international cuisine from the row of restaurants. Shop till you drop, gyrate with the hip and cool music and join the social festivals. Everything guarantees that the fast pace life never stops in this busy city.
When To Go:
The best time of year to explore Marseille is during the summer season (June – August). One reason why the city sees more tourists during the month of July (peak season) is because France observes Bastille Day during this month. Also, the anniversary of the French national song of devotion bears the name of the city - "La Marseillaise". The festival goes on for two weeks, and the city is energized and brimming with amusing things to do during these festive occasions.
The city sees a huge number of tourists in the spring, fall and winter in light of the fact that the atmosphere here is outstanding throughout the year. The air has constant breezes, mostly because of the fact that Marseille is situated right in front of the Mediterranean Sea. The city seldom sees any snow or even ice during the height of the winter season (November – January).
While the temperature can get nippy in the winter, it will not upset any guests. For those from northern nations, the joy of going to Marseille in December is having the capacity to play or stroll outdoors during the day and to spend a little time sunbathing.
These are the top things to do when in the city of Marseille, France:
Old Port (Vieux Port)
Marseille is a vivacious city, especially in the evening, but there are specific places where most people gather. One of these places is the Old Port. It is an immense bay, with many pleasure boats moored at its docks. Here you will find hundreds of shops and restaurants, ferries crossing the same site from one bank to another (for free!) and those leading to nearby islands with mini-cruises. Even the night in this area is filled with life. It is worth the effort to choose a hotel or residence that is right on the harbor. The Old Port is beautiful, and worth visiting while in Marseille City.
The Old Port has a lively atmosphere, but it is also relaxing, especially at night. It is nice to walk and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the Vieux Port while enjoying the view. Enjoy the countless boats and the noble palaces, churches and local yachts around the port. Above all, you may enjoy the coexistence between the old and the modern Marseille that is symbolized by the continuous movement of people, tourists, workers, and many young people who recognize the Vieux Port as a classic landmark and meeting point. This distinguished port is one of the best places where you can see the change in recent decades that has distinguished Marseille from other cities in France.
Parc National des Calanques
A tour of Parc National des Calanques is ideal if you have enough time. To get there, take the boat ride (from Marseille, allow three hours to do a full tour of all creeks to the Cassis). It is an entirely unique site, wild and naturally beautiful. If you have more time, one of the ideal things to do here is to walk the creeks. The most beautiful part is reaching the En Vau area which can be accessed from the top or the bottom part of the beach. A word of caution, it is restricted during summer due to fires, so it is best to inquire before you go. It is a challenging walk but in the end it is really worth all the effort to get there. The sea is fantastic and the views are stunning. In summer, even if the heat is exhausting, you will really be pleased.
It is a real feast for the eyes and for the soul of those who love the sea and nature. The Calaques are wonderful white cliffs overlooking the sea and stretch for about 24km of the coastline, from Callelongue in Cassis. Along the way, you can admire the creeks from the sea, the lush nature, and even see the small port! Do not miss this fantastic view when in Marseille.
Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde
Better known as "Our Lady of the Guard" the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde church is an important place of worship in Marseille. It is located at the highest point of the city, about 162 meters above sea level in the south of the Old Port. Legend has it that the Virgin Mary is protecting the faithful on the way up to the sanctuary - but not on the descent! To access this famous church in Marseille, you can take the train that will bring you to the summit to admire this wonder.
The basilica was commissioned by the Bishop of Marseille Eugene de Mazenod and designed by architect Jacques Henri Esperandieu in neo-Byzantine style. Once you reach the summit by train, you can descend. After climbing a long staircase, you will arrive at the entrance of the Basilica, topped by a bell tower that measures 60 meters high. Above it there is a huge statue of the Virgin and Child visible from much of the city and into the sea for miles. The interior is very nice and covered by mosaics on a golden background. At the center, there is the main altar topped by a statue of the Madonna in bronze. After the visit, you can stop and look at the gift shop or spend some time strolling around the area and be astonished aT the spectacular setting that they offer here. It is a very charming place that is truly worth a visit while in the city of Marseille.
Cathedrale de la Major
The Cathedrale de la Major is located near the port, and if you stroll around the city it can be easily found. It looks striking and impressive and the style of light and dark marble will remind you of the old churches in Genoa, Siena, and Florence. Inside, it is beautiful and there are statues with vivid details as well as a gorgeous altar with a huge canopy.
The first is a very old Romanesque cathedral (it is the oldest church in Marseille) that is overwhelmed by the size of the other, sumptuous and beautiful, but modern and very inspirational. The second is made of Byzantine architecture and richly constructed with different materials including the use of Carrara marble. The Cathedral is located in a magnificent location with an enormous expanse of space in front of the entrance.
Calanque du Sugiton
The cove of the Calanque du Sugiton was formed between white limestone rocks. In front, there is a small island. This place is ideal for those who want to do some snorkeling in the pristine sea with wild marine animals. You can get to Sugiton by taking a path that takes about an hour and a half between the bushes and trees of Mediterranean. After an easy and pleasant walk on a road used by very few people (there is also a shorter but more popular route), you will enjoy a breathtaking view of the Calanque Sugiton by going up to the lookout point.
Bring proper footwear to walk the rocks. It may be a bit challenging, but it is all worth it and the look is just amazing! It has magnificent views of the Mediterranean sea and its clear blue waters. The only problem is that it is always full of people and it's kind of hard to find a good place to lie or sit down and enjoy the view. Nonetheless, it is still worth going to and your camera is guaranteed to take some wonderful photos.
Calanque de Morgiou
If you are in Marseille and have already visited the city, you cannot fail to find a ride to the Calanque de Morgiou. It is located along the southern side of Marseille and starts from the village of Les Goudes Pesctori and extends up to the Cassis. Among pine forests and cliffs overlooking the sea, you can take beautiful walks on well-trodden paths on routes ranging from a few minutes to a few hours (depending on your state of form or desire). It may be long, but the trail is not that challenging. You may decide to stay above the cliffs of the coast just right off the seashore in one of the numerous coves- both options are highly suggested.
It is more useful to have a rough idea of the possible paths to guide or follow in the park. The information office in Marseilles can provide a map with those paths; (some routes are marked on the map with colors that signify the trails) so be sure to ask for one. If you are able to travel just outside of Marseille, you should not miss a trip to the Calanques!
La Corniche (The Corniche)
The Corniche, or La Corniche, is the waterfront of Marseille from which you can admire the sea in all its beauty and immensity. You can travel along this stretch of road by bus to head to the old port and be in awe as you admire its beauty. Along the way, you will see the row of villas, restaurants and bars but also many beaches and small harbors. The Corniche is a must for those who want to really enjoy the beauty of Marseille. There is much to do, like walk or drive along the huge boardwalk. There are also good choices of restaurants in the area.
There is a sightseeing double-decker bus that goes around the cape, which is located on the edge of the monument. The observation deck offers a very beautiful view of the sea and the islands. It has the best place for a stroll near the Old Port after two or three bus stops. It is also famous for having the longest bench in the world that overlooks the sea. For easy access from the downtown area, take bus 83 to the old port and be guided along the Corniche at night after a long day of sightseeing; this is one good way to enjoy the beauty and entertainment this unique place has to offer in Marseille.
Fort Saint-Jean is located at the entrance of the old port and can be visited free of charge. It is a fine example of the architectural restoration and redevelopment of the port. It is nice to walk inside and enjoy the stunning views towards the sea and of the new Cathedral. Very interesting is the nearby building called the MUCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations) it is connected to the fort by a walkway. The complex is very pleasant, relaxing and well worth a look. It is a must-visit if you are in Marseilles. It has been recently restored and there is now a splendid museum space. Additionally, the connection to the new architecture of the esplanade is worthy of praise.
The place gives an impression that will remind you of the old stories of pirates and sailors. Just steps from a beautiful Byzantine-style Catholic cathedral, with a beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea, stands the Fort Saint Jean, which has been well-maintained and perfectly integrated into the urban environment. You can enjoy this attraction without the pressure of other tourists or vendors. The market is down in the Vieux Port, enter the Fort St. John through a long walkway facing the front of the Saint Laurent Church. This gateway, which measures 70 meters in length, provides an excellent view of the city. The redevelopment of the Fort was built by Louis XIV and is one of the largest urban projects of the European Year of Culture. The project is defined as a museum on three premises: The Strong, the Museum, and the third being the Conservation Center located in the district of La Belle de Mai. Go inside the Fort to enjoy the different exhibition spaces and see magnificent Mediterranean style gardens. It is ingenious, well-designed and fun to browse, so be sure to visit!
Abbaye Saint Victor
The Abbaye Saint Victor is a church built in the twelfth century. It has a simple structure both outside and inside, but the distinction is in the underground area. It is one of the few churches in the world where you can see artifacts from a thousand years ago in the crypt. The early excavations here revealed remains that date back to the early Christian period. Certainly it is not to be missed while you’re visitingMarseille.
The Abbaye is at the end of the avenue of the new pier, just behind the hill overlooking the south entrance of the harbor. It is an imposing and impressive Basilica which attracts locals due to a prestigious ceremony at the beginning of February each year. The Christian catacombs and earlier burials in the preserved crypt can be accessed for 2 Euros.
Musee d'Histoire de Marseille
If the Palais of Pharo will be your last memory of Marseille, then the Musee d'Histoire de Marseille should be the first thing to be visited. The story of the Palais is narrated here in a lovely location (though sometimes it is not easy to follow) and the whole story of the city and the history of the world is seen through the eyes of Marseille.
You absolutely must visit, because it's really one of the most beautiful museums in Marseille City. The museum itself holds a number of thematic historical exhibits from different eras of both France and the city.
The Palais Longchamp is as worthy of a landmark as Versailles. It has neoclassical colonnades and a fountain with allegorical representation of the Durance surrounded by wine and wheat. The wings of the building are used as the Natural History Museum (right) and the Fine Arts Museum (left). It was designed to celebrate the construction of the aqueduct that brought water of the Durance to Marseilles. It has a gorgeous park annex, especially the area reserved for children's games. When you arrive at the foot of the monument and see the water games and the majesty of the palace-castle, it is a fitting tribute to the importance of that water in Marseille.
Marseille is a beautiful city with a great panoramic view from Notre Dame de la Garde. From this height, you can enjoy a spectacular image of Marseille and the sea. There are lots of old, stunning churches, galleries, and museums that contain works of art scattered around the old harbor. Don’t forget the delightful market where you can buy household soap and the famous lavender of Provence. When in France the city of Marseille is a must see!
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