Marseille Vieux Port, or Old Port, is the hub of the city. It was the natural harbor of this port town since antiquity; the Greeks landed here in 600 BC and set up a small town for trading. The town grew and in the middle ages became a center for growing cannabis, or hemp, for nautical rope. Hence the name of Marseille's main street Canebiere, which leads down to the old port. By the mid-1800s, the port of Marseille could dock over 1,000 ships at one time and around 18,000 ships passed through each year. However once steam took over from sail, the harbor proved too shallow and the focus moved to new docks built at La Joliette. Then in WWII, the Nazis obliterated the port and the historic town in the Battle of Marseille. After 1948, a reconstruction project was undertaken and these days the port is again a bustling center of Marseille, although these days only for leisure boating.
These days the New Port, to the north, has taken over the commercial harbor functions. There is a modern container shipping terminal. Only visit it if you like big machines and lots of noise. Naturally it is not open to tourists.
The port lies at the end of the main street of Marseille, Canebiere. Trains and buses galore go to Vieux Port and, not surprisingly, the stops are called Vieux Port.
Tours & Tickets
Location: Marseille, France
Location: Avignon, France
Duration: 10 hours