Marseille is a great lady of inexhaustible youth - without frills and rejecting conventions. Her beauty is welcoming, as indolent as it is sassy. And forever turned towards the Mediterranean, under the eye of the Good Mother continues to watch his fishing party at sea. Discover our luxury travel guide to Marseille.
You can get to Marseille by train from several European capitals. Your TGV journey shows Marseille’s love for its breathtaking view, from the sea views that greet you en route to the Bonne Mère which meets you as you exit the station on arrival. Arriving by plane in Marignane (30 min from Marseille) is just as impressive, approaching over the waters of Etang de Berre pond or over a panoramic view of Marseille.
Marseille has a metro and a tram, but the best way to move around freely is by car, or even by motorbike or scooter, to squeeze away from traffic. Take the Côte Bleue train to meander between the small villages of the coast, on the side of a cliff or perched on footbridges tens of meters above the water. The maritime shuttle serves from May to October Pointe Rouge, l'Estaque and Goudes from the old port of Marseille. The view over Marseille is always magnificent. But the best time to return to port is with the last shuttle of the day, to see the city fully illuminated.
The most beautiful times of year in Marseille are spring and autumn. The coves are always open around that time, as they are often closed in summer so as to protect them from fire. They are covered with small flowers in spring and gorgeous lighting in the fall. You can stay outside in the temperatures that are pleasantly warm with no thought of the stifling heat that often come in summer.
In winter, temperatures remain mild and you can take advantage of the warmth of the sun to have lunch on the terrace or stroll through the alleys of the old town. If you want to discover the winter light on the Marseille coast, you will have to bundle up to battle the mistral winds.
Marseille is two thousand years old but never takes herself too seriously. It is often said that she has her own character. But what makes her unique is that she knows how to bring together all stories, big and small
Under the radiant sun, Marseille tumbles from the top of the Panier and the square of Notre-Dame de la Garde towards the mythical Canebière, the Old Port and its colourful boats.
In the port , where the heart of the city beats, we go for a Sunday stroll with the family, passing the fishermen's huts and the 1950s buildings. The sailors are busy stripping the hulls attacked by the sea and the terraces of the cafes are packed. The boats leave with a light heart for the calanques . Their wild nature and white cliffs are never far away.
Perched on the ramparts of Fort Saint Jean, we're a stone's throw from the sea. The landscape is tricoloured: the pink of the soft stone of the fort, the deep blue of the sea, the clear blue of the cloudless sky. The boats sail out to sea or return to the busy harbour. The massive shadow of a ferry slips lazily out of the trading port and disguises L'Estaque for a moment.
People drink coffee and explore the hidden stairs between the flowers as we take a moment to bask in the sun between two olive trees. We almost forget the hustle of the big city behind these centuries-old walls, on this huge open-air terrace. The Mucem looks at us, wrapped in its garland of black concrete.
Only a few years ago, there was only an abandoned jetty taken over by pétanque players, traveling circuses, and overloaded cars bound for the Mediterranean. The old lady of Marseille and the newcomer now watch the port side by side, and symbolize the old and the new face of Marseille.
While in the Cours Julien, you can sit down in the shade of the trees, surrounded by more street art than anywhere else in Europe. In Panier,, the oldest district of Marseille, we play hide and seek with the sun under the 17th century vaults of the Vieille Charité. A little further, under the arches of the Marseille Cathedral in its classic Byzantine style, the waiters call out to each other in front of the fish stands and the pizza ovens.
By car, continue along the coast towards the small port of L'Estaque. Here, we follow in the footsteps of the impressionists who painted the village on several occasions. Then, let yourself be enamoured by the smell of panisses that come out of the barracks, whose recipes remain unchanged for decades.
Summer vibes and the sweet life linger in Marseille throughout the year.
Live the sweet life by discovering the little coves of Malmousque hidden under La Corniche, between the beautiful pastel houses, or even by the fisherman's huts aged by the salty wind. It lives in the sea, that looms around every corner of Marseille.
This village and holiday spirit can be found almost everywhere in Marseille; each district has its identity. But rarely as much as in the tiny port of Goudes, where time has stood still on the pink, blue and yellow huts. The only street is so narrow that driving through it is quite a feat. This is where we go to taste the catch of the day in one of the bars facing the port, a pergola overhead, sheltered from the mistral even in winter.
Marseille has the ubiquitous nature of the very urban, uncompromising modern architecture next to tiny fishing ports, ancient history and street art that coexist.
Marseille is overall a city of art and history with cosmopolitan charm. The Phocaean city is twisted around its illustrious creations, from the elegant jagged silhouette of MUCEM to the tangy notes of Cours Julien, through the daring Cité Radieuse, an avant-garde work by Le Corbusier listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In summer, we converge at the Dance and Multiple Arts Festival or the Marsatac Urban Music Festival.
Trattoria with a focus
Here one is welcomed at the door with an Italian accent. In this utterly charming restaurant you immediately feel at home: white tablecloths and a wooden counter, garden chairs and a patio blanketed in ivy to pass the time in fine weather. You can enjoy Italian family food: no frills, impeccably prepared, and just what you need. The right ingredients play an integral role; the passionate chef selects them personally each month in Bologna. We love the fondant burrata with fresh tomato coulis and the classic pasta vongole, and the desserts are to die for. Above all, do not forget to make a reservation.
Address : 24 Cours Julien, 13006 Marseille
The catch of the day
There is an air of dolce vita in this restaurant, part old-style brasserie, part fisherman's cabin. You reach it as you descend the tiny – and only – street of the small port of Goudes, Marseille’s end of the world. The bar is on one side of the street, the restaurant on the other encased in glass with a large terrace cut off from the world. Go for a table with a view of the port and a good bouillabaisse or extra-fresh fish, exquisitely presented. If there are no free tables, wait with a glass of rosé at one of the tables outside the bar. The surreal maneuvers of motorists attempting to navigate through the tiny street are a show in their own right.
Address : Calanques National Park, 29 Rue Désirée-Pellaprat, 13008 Marseille
An Asian version of Marseille
Among the Pointe Rouge beach restaurants, Pascal's Kitchen stands apart. The French-Thai chef Pascal mixes his two worlds with talent and humor in a half-Marseillais, half-Asian atmosphere. You should definitely book a table on the terrace overlooking the beach, where you can sunbathe or watch the sun set over the sea under the light of lanterns. On the menu, Pad Thai stands side by side with truffle burrata and socca, reinvented with an Asian touch. Do not leave without having tasted one of Pascal's famous infused rums.
Address: 46 Avenue de Montredon, 13008 Marseille
A somewhat haphazard place, like many of those that make up the soul of Marseille. The Café has some tables installed on the large intersection above the port, in front of the ancient Saint Victor basilica. Go there in the evening to see the sun set on the port and the fortresses while sipping a pastis accompanied by some crispy panisses. Françoise, the relaxed and good-natured bar owner, maintains a great atmosphere. Right next to Saint Victor Abbey, take a look at the small covered market. Vendors include a cheese maker, an oyster seller, a market gardener, each with excellent products.
Address : 3 Rue d'Endoume, 13007 Marseille
Marseille from above
The InterContinental is located in the grandiose building of Marseille’s Hôtel-Dieu, a former 17th century hospital with dozens of arcades overlooking the Place de la Mairie. The only way to fully grasp the scale of its grandeur is climbing the stairs to the astonishing terrace. From there, the view stretches beyond the roof of the town hall all the way down into the harbor; Notre-Dame de la Garde, right in front of you, seems to be within arm’s reach. The brunch served here on sunny Sundays (i.e. most Sundays) is a real feast of high quality products: seafood, sea urchins, shrimp, cheese, Corsican sausages, spit-roasted ham, barbeque-grilled octopus, lamb shank... It’s a brunch unlike any you’ve ever seen.
Address : 1 Place Daviel, 13002 Marseille
Magical at nightfall when the beach empties. Go down the stairs and walk along the jetty to bypass the big rock that delineates the beach .You’ll stumble upon a small bar concealed by the rock wall, with a few tables set directly on the pier. The bar itself has no real name or menu; it feels like being alone at the end of the world, a few meters from the sea, just you and the sunset. This is one of the mysterious places that make for Marseille’s special allure.
Address : To the left of Catalans beach
At the base of the popular Noailles district you will find a timeless, somewhat magical place: one of the oldest hardware stores in France, run by the same family for more than two hundred years. The new generation has brilliantly reinvented the idea of hardware and offers an astounding array of beautiful products, both totally retro and utterly modern. One passes beyond the old wooden facade as if entering the cave of Ali Baba. On the ground floor lies a labyrinth of savon de Marseille soaps, brushes and old tools. At the top of the creaking staircase you’ll find toys made of tin, vintage dishes, lovely beauty products from bygone days. It is one of those rare places where one can return again and again and always be surprised. PS: After you leave Maison Empereur pop over to L’Ideal, a trendy grocery store founded by a former food writer, full of beautiful and high quality products.
Address : 4 Rue des Récolettes, 13001 Marseille
Somewhat removed from the city center, the Jardin Montgrand is a beautiful multifaceted place. The part-concept store, part-tea room is set in a 19th century mansion. Passing through the entrance made of large black and white slabs, you find yourself walking through parquet-floored rooms surrounded by the creations of Marseille’s designers. You should without fail be there at tea time to enjoy the pastries with playful names and surprising pairings. Enjoy them with a lemonade in the beautiful garden for which the place is named while lying on a chaise longue with pretty prints in the shade of a huge chestnut tree.
Address : 35 Rue Montgrand, 13006 Marseille
Today, Palais Longchamp is best known in Marseille for its collection of fine arts. But another of its wings hides a more unusual world; that of the Museum, which also presents the oldest side of the palace. You will find a true cabinet of curiosities: more than two hundred years unfolding before you as you walk through a vast array of flora and fauna preserved in their original state.
Address : Boulevard Jardin Zoologique, 13004 Marseille
Raymond has always been a fisherman: seated in his cabin, taste his perfected bouillabaisse.
Georgiana regularly shakes up the traditional food of Marseille. Learn to cook with her.
Climb aboard an old Marseille boat to enjoy an aperitif on the boat’s hull facing the coastline.
Take off on a 1950s fishing trawler and then snorkel in the depths of the dazzling Grotte Bleue.
Kayak the crystal waters and Grecian-esque natural beaches of this little jewel hidden in the sea.
Give yourself wings to fly across the turquoise waters instructed exclusively by a French champion.
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