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Things to do in Marseille

Things to do in  Marseille

Welcome to Marseille

France’s second-largest city and most important port, bustling Marseille offers visitors vibrant old neighborhoods and historic sights. Roughly 482 miles (775 km) south of Paris on the Mediterranean coast, Marseille, a major transportation hub, serves as an ideal base for exploring the French Riviera and Provence. Half-day and full-day guided tours show off Marseille’s shore, wine, and neighboring regions. Take a walking tour of Marseille’s historic center around the Old Port (Vieux Port) to learn about the city’s Greek and Roman roots. Travel through time with a visit to the Abbey of Saint Victor to see its fifth- century crypts; and stop in the 19th-century Neo-Byzantine Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde, one of Marseille's most recognized monuments. Climb on an electric bike to glide along the pretty road known as Corniche Kennedy, plus stop for panoramic coastal views. Tour the opera house, and score tickets to a performance. Day trips take you beyond the city on a tour of the Calanques National Park, a stretch of rugged coastline near Marseille; or to the gorgeous natural landscapes around the Luberon Massif. Take a day tour of Provence to see Avignon, charming Aix-en-Provence, and Arles. Or head to soak up the sun along the French Riviera, with stops in Cannes and Nice. For coastal charm closer to the Marseille’s city center, join a tour to the UNESCO-listed inlet of Cassis, which features magnificent views from its dramatic sea cliff, Cape Canaille.

Top 10 attractions in Marseille

#1

Calanques National Park (Parc National des Calanques)

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Calanques National Park (Parc national des Calanques) sits in the south of France between Marseille and Cassis. The area boasts dramatic rocky inlets, azure waters and pebble beaches, making it a popular destination for tourists looking to hike, swim and sail. The park is relatively large and composed of nearly 20 acres (8,500 hectares) by land and more than 100 acres (42,000 hectares) by sea. Visitors can spend their time keeping an eye out for some of the 140 land animal species and 60 marine species that live here. These creatures are protected in the park, which is the only one in Europe to contain land, marine and semi-urban areas. The calanques themselves are also main attractions and include Calanque de Sormiou, Calanque de Morgiou, Calanque d'En-Vau, Calanque de Port-Pin and Calanque de Sugiton.More
#2

Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica (La Bonne Mère)

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Everywhere you go in Marseille, you'll see the golden statue of the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde, the Romano-Byzantine basilica rising up from the city's highest hill, La Garde (530ft/162m). Built between 1853 and 1864, the domed basilica is ornamented with colored marble, murals, and intricate mosaics, which were superbly restored in 2006 after suffering damage from the atmosphere, candle smoke and war. Bullet marks and vivid shrapnel scars on the cathedral's northern façade mark the fierce fighting that took place during Marseille's Battle of Liberation in August 1944. Its bell tower is crowned by a 30 ft (9.7m) tall gilded statue of the Virgin Mary on a 40 ft (12m) high pedestal. Locals see her as the guardian of their city and call her 'la bonne mere' or the good mother. Each year on August 15th, there is a popular Assumption Day pilgrimage to the church. From the dome you get a 360-degree panorama of the city's sea of terracotta rooves below.More
#3

Palais du Pharo

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Wouldn't it be nice to be a prince, to be able to go to seaside town, decide you liked it and wouldn't mind having a little holiday home there, then have the city give you the prime location on the waterfront to build your palace? Welcome to the mid-19th century world of Prince-President Louis-Napoleon. In September 1852, he visited Marseille, said he liked it, was given the Pharo headland overlooking Vieux Port and Ile d'If, built the magnificent Palais du Pharo, then never even stayed there. Luckily his wife seems to have had a more generous nature and the Empress Eugenie gave it back to the city. In 1904, the city of Marseille turned the building into a medical school. This necessitated some architectural changes and the balance of the building's appearance was altered losing some of its beauty. Since then, the building has been again modified to become a modern conference centre, with many of the auditoriums skillfully concealed underground below the forecourt.More
#4

Marseille Cruise Port (Terminal Croisières Marseille)

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Marseilles has grown from being a tiny trading port established by the Greeks in 600 BC to being France’s second largest city. Topped by the hilltop Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde cathedral, it rises from the lovely harbor front of the Vieux Port or Old Harbor out into a sprawling, modern metropolis. Given its role as France’s major port and its proximity to Africa and the Mediterranean, it is not surprising that Marseilles is an extremely culturally diverse city with great transport links to most of the country. Marseilles is the gateway to Provence, an area famed for its cooking and its artists. As well as being an important port and industrial city, Marseilles is also an important center for culture with the Opera de Marseille and the Ballet Nationale de Marseille housed in the historic Opera House. It has also attracted many famous artists over the years, including Renoir and Cezanne, and spawned much of France’s hip hop music.More
#5

La Corniche

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Winding along the Mediterranean coast along the South of France, La Corniche is a waterfront roadway that stretches five kilometers through Marseille. As both a walkway and a road for cars, it offers wonderful views of the sea and coastline. It was a particularly popular promenade for residents of Marseille in the 1920s. From there you can also see the Iles du Frioul, elegant villas of the late 19th century, and the Prado beaches. The Chateau d’If (of the Count of Monte Cristo fame) is also visible. Along the way sits the Maregraph Building, which took measurements over thirteen years to determine France’s sea level elevation. The bench of La Corniche runs three kilometers between the Pont de la Fausse-Monnaie and Hotel Sofitel Palm Beach, making it the longest bench in the world. Part of the roadway is named after President Kennedy, who was assassinated during its construction.More
#6

Vallon des Auffes

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With its charming jumble of fishing boats and fishermen’s cabins clustered around the small harbor, and framed by the arches of a stone-brick bridge; visiting Vallon des Auffes feels like stepping back in time. Located along the Marseille Corniche, the historic port village is a world away from the bustling city and makes a tranquil detour for those traveling along the coastal road.More
#7

Palais Longchamp

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The colonnaded Palais de Longchamp, constructed in the 1860s, was designed in part to disguise a château d'eau (water tower) at the terminus of an aqueduct from the River Durance. The building of this water storage and the associated canals and aqueducts was a major turning point in the history of Marseille as it allowed the city to expand, building new districts. One of these was the Boulevard Longchamp, laid out by the city then developed by private business people who profited from providing a grand boulevard of similarly styled, gracious houses. In the Palais itself, the 2 wings house Marseille's oldest museum, the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Musée d'Histoire Naturelle, which have extensive displays of the arts and the sciences respectively. Its lovely gardens with lakes, fountains, waterfalls - not surprisingly water features heavily! - and a children's playground and carousel are a good spot for bored children.More
#8

Marseille Cathedral (Cathédrale La Major)

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Marseille Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral and basilica minor located in the Old-Port of Marseilles and a national monument of France. Far from being just a run-of-the-mill church, it is the seat of the Archdiocese of Marseille and the hobbyhorse of Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, who laid the first stone of the new building in 1852. The foundations, commonly referred to as the Old Major, date back to the 12th century and correspond to a sober Romanesque style. Only the choir and one bay of the nave persist today, as a new, more opulent cathedral was built next to the remains in 1852. The new Marseilles Cathedral was built on a gigantic scale in the Byzantine-Roman style from 1852 to 1896.More
#9

Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (Le Mucem)

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The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (MuCEM; Musée des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée) is a national museum in Marseille, France. It was inaugurated in 2013, the same year Marseille was designated as the ‘European Capital of Culture,’ and is dedicated to showcasing the multifaceted history of the Mediterranean and its different landscapes, cities, and shores. The museum is built on reclaimed land at the entrance to Marseille’s harbour. Its exhibits are devoted to European and Mediterranean civilizations in the Mediterranean basin, taking an interdisciplinary approach to presenting the different societies who have called this area home throughout the ages and in modern times. It is the first museum in the world to focus entirely on the cultures of the Mediterranean, and it includes all the social sciences: anthropology, political science, sociology, history, archaeology, and art history.More
#10

Calanque de Sormiou

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The calanques are narrow and steep inlets along the limestone coast of southern France, the most impressive ones being located along the little stretch of coastline between Marseilles and Cassis. They are romantic, wild and, being surrounded by huge cliffs, often protrude fjord-like into the landscape. While many calanques require hours of hiking or kayaking to reach, the Calanque de Sormiou is more easily accessible and still provides a true visual spectacle for visitors. After a 15 minute drive or 45 minute walk from the main road down the hills, a sandy beach awaits next to the bright blue Mediterranean water. A couple weekend homes dot the landscape and then there is Le Château, the modest but immensely popular bouillabaisse restaurant that requires a phone reservation well ahead of time to snag a seat. As sparse as the landscape might appear, Sormiou actually serves as a habitat for a rich flora and fauna.More

Trip ideas

Food and Wine in Marseille

Food and Wine in Marseille

Provence Tours from Marseille

Provence Tours from Marseille

Top activities in Marseille

Brunch Calanques Day Cruise

Brunch Calanques Day Cruise

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Recent reviews from experiences in Marseille

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Fantastic tour and amazing tour guide
amylkennedy2020, Jan 2020
Marseille Shore Excursion: Half Day Tour of Marseille by Electric Bike
You get to see the whole city and learn about the history of this spectacular port.
star-5
Great tour!
Navigator657553, Oct 2019
Great Marseille Food Tour Experience
Wonderful and interesting food and a great way to see and get to know Marseille and its history.
star-5
Romain was the best tour guide ever!
Laura W, May 2019
Private Day Tour of Aix en Provence, Marseille & Cassis
We never felt rushed and were sad to see our time with him come to a close.
star-5
So fun!
Adventure48569903543, May 2019
Marseille Shore Excursion: Half Day Tour of Marseille by Electric Bike
We got to see so many sights and view this gorgeous provence with time to spare to explore on our own.
star-5
Best way ever to see Marseille. Our...
Robert B, Mar 2018
Marseille Smalll Group Electric Bike Tour
Best way ever to see Marseille.
star-5
Best way to see the main city sights...
Lucia, Oct 2016
Electric Bike Tour to the Calanques from Marseille
Best way to see the main city sights of Marseille.
star-5
Great way to see Marseille and...
Geoff A, Oct 2016
Provence, Marseille and Cassis Sightseeing Tour
Great way to see Marseille and Cassis if you have limited time.
star-5
Great way to see Marseille! Mia was...
Lauren L, Jun 2016
Marseille Smalll Group Electric Bike Tour
Great way to see Marseille!
star-5
Our driver Mathew was superb from...
Andrew C, Oct 2015
Marseille Shore Excursion: Private Marseille and Cassis Tour
Marseille and Cassis are stunning places to visit and I highly recommend this private relaxed tour.
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This was a fun and healthy way to...
Robert P, Aug 2015
Marseille Shore Excursion: Private Electric Bike Tour
This was a fun and healthy way to see Marseille.
star-5
Our tour guide was amazing. She is...
Cindy, Jun 2015
Avignon, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Les Baux de Provence Tour from Marseille
Highly recommend this trip to people who wanna spend a day to see neighboring cities of Marseille.
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Very nice tour... glad we did it...
John G, Oct 2015
Provence, Marseille and Cassis Sightseeing Tour
Enjoyed the boat cruise to visit the Calanques and the quantness of the village of Cassis.
star-5
Fantastic guide, and an awesome way...
c_voogd, May 2018
Marseille Shore Excursion: Half Day Tour of Marseille by Electric Bike
Fantastic guide, and an awesome way to see Marseille.
star-4
A great tour but not enough time...
Bruce A, Nov 2013
Private Tour: Les Baux de Provence
The chateaux and village were a delight to visit.
star-5
Clean vehicle and good driver - polite...
John M, Oct 2007
Marseille Airport to Avignon Private Arrival Transfer
Clean vehicle and good driver - polite and friendly with sound English.
star-5
A taste of little and big cities, a blend of quiet and bustling places
Cristina_N, Mar 2020
Private Day Tour of Aix en Provence, Marseille & Cassis
This tour is perfect if you'd like to see key sights without a lot of walking and want to hit 3 great spots in the south of France on a comfortable luxury car drive.
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Aix-en-Provence from Marseille
waibing89, Dec 2019
Private Tour: Aix-en-Provence from Marseille
We were lucky to have her because there were a lot of sights we wanted to see; she delivered abundant information covering the background on Aix - its history, art, attractions, food.
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Love this tour - don't skip!
xru17, Sep 2019
Electric Bike Tour to the Calanques from Marseille
We were hesitating as we're relatively active and didn't know if this would be too slow moving but the pace was great, we got to see a lot of the beautiful Calaquentes, and our guide was awesome!!
star-4
Great way to see Marseille including...
Lynne S, Oct 2016
Marseille Smalll Group Electric Bike Tour
Great way to see Marseille including some little hidden gems with a friendly and enthusiastic local guide but cycling through busy town traffic in a group of 8 or 9 was nerve-wracking and felt slightly dangerous at times and you really need to put in
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Perfect day in Marseilles
Inspire46991065853, May 2019
Marseille Shore Excursion: City Sightseeing Tour of Marseille
Touring with a small group of 7 made the excursion so enjoyable - we were able to see so much in 4 hours.

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