Once the city’s commercial maritime hub, Marseille Vieux Port (Old Port) has been in use since antiquity and is now used by yachts, fishing craft, and pleasure boats. The picturesque and vibrant quays are the setting for fish markets and historical buildings, as well as cafés and restaurants that specialize in fresh-from-the-boat seafood.
To understand Marseille’s maritime heritage, a visit to this bustling port is a must. It is, after all, the nucleus from which the city grew. Biking and walking tours of Marseille—both guided and self-guided—include jaunts around the atmospheric Vieux Port, stopping at attractions such as the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (MuCEM) and the twin forts of Fort Saint-Jean and Fort Saint-Nicolas, which were built to guard the port.
The port area also features on street art tours of Marseille, which explore the mural and graffiti-adorned streets of nearby neighborhoods such as Cours Julien. Sightseeing boat tours and ferries also depart from the Vieux Port.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Marseille Vieux Port is a must for sightseers and foodies.
- Come hungry: There are lots of waterfront restaurants where you can dine on bouillabaisse (fish stew) and enjoy views of the boats coming and going from the harbor.
- Many of the port’s attractions, including MuCEM and Fort Saint-Jean, are wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
Marseille Vieux Port is centrally located in Marseille’s First Arrondissement. To get there, take the metro (line 1) to the Vieux-Port–Hôtel de Ville stop. Alternatively, walk along La Canebière, Marseille’s main drag, toward the waterfront.
When to Get There
With such an abundance of sunshine—more than 300 days per year—there are few bad times to visit Marseille. The same goes for the Vieux Port, though the area is busiest during July and August. If you want to go to the port’s fish market, get there early; the market runs from around 8am–1pm.
Marseille Vieux Port Fish Market
Held daily on Quai des Belges, this fish market is a local institution, with many Marseille restaurateurs coming here to source seafood for their kitchens. Availability changes depending on what the ocean provides, but bream, mussels, and red mullet are often on offer. If you want to buy some fish, have the fishmongers clean and fillet your chosen catch so it’s ready to cook.