Enchanting Marseille is an intoxicating blend of classical French and exotically African culture. On first glance, this coastal hillside town with its picturesque Vieux-Port harbour, tumbling whitewashed wooden-shuttered houses, winding cobbled streets and lively morning markets looks like any other French town, but dig deeper below its surface and suddenly music, people and produce from North Africa can be seen permeating French culture. Markets are livelier, food has a touch of the exotic, streets play host to quirky musicians and entertainers and the nightlife crackles with energy. Find your favourite among a host of hotels in this eclectic city.
Rise early to catch the fishermen selling their haul at the Vieux-Port auction, or cycle this bike friendly city to explore the sites like Notre Dame de la Garde Church, Corbusier designed Unité d'Habitation, and the Museum of Roman Docks and Mediterranean Archaeology. Hang out in the Le Cours Julien and La Plaine with their hip bookshops, bohemian cafes, babbling fountains and colourful children’s playgrounds. Don’t forget to sample a bowl of the national dish; Bouillabaisse. Climb the rocky Iles du Frioul to spot birds and the Marseille locals below, going about their everyday tasks.
Wander along the elegant Boulevard Longchamp for museums of art and high-class cafes, Le Panier, the oldest part of Marseille, with its ancient architecture and Noailles for Algerian bazaars and far-eastern shops. Parc Borely is a lush green park, just meters from the sea, where an afternoon siesta or a sundowner at sunset is the perfect way to ease into a night on the town.
Fans of the book the Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas, must take a boat to the island that is home to the eerily (in)famous Chateau d’If. Want to explore the glorious coastline? Why not take a daytrip or a road trip, and follow the glittering sea? Find a good deal on car hire in Marseille.
Marseille Provence Airport is located 16 miles northwest of Marseille, taking approximately 40 minutes by car. Free shuttle buses transport visitors from the airport to the Vitrolles Aeroport railway station in five minutes, connecting with trains to Marseilles that reach the city centre in under 20 minutes. There is a choice of taxi companies also operating from outside the terminal building. Get current flight information in arrivals and departures for Marseille Airport.
What you need to know
Currency: The Euro (€)
Visas: UK and EU nationals do not require a visa to enter France, however a valid passport for the duration of stay is essential. Nationals of other countries may require a visa – more information is available from a local embassy or from the Foreign Office website.
Laws: The legal drinking age in France is 16. This includes purchasing alcohol in supermarkets or and drinking in restaurants, bars and clubs. Smoking is prohibited in all public indoor spaces across France although it is still permitted to smoke on the beach and outside most cafes and restaurants.
Best Time to Visit
Marseille enjoys over 300 days of sunshine a year with temperatures at their warmest in July and August. These are the peak months for visitors meaning flights and accommodation are often more expensive. Spring sees plenty of sunshine and fewer crowds while from October to February, beaches are pleasantly deserted.
The Russian Festival in March showcases the best of the country’s film, art, literature and culture while the Festival de Marseille is a big draw from mid-June to mid-July with music, arts and dance events taking place. July means the International Film Festival and Bastille Day celebrations. September at Sea celebrates all the wonders of the ocean from boating and paddling to seafood and coastal protection. The Marseille Marathon in late July is a draw for serious and fun-runners alike while the Fiesta des Suds is a lively mix of French and African culture. October is a magnet for foodies with the wonderful ‘Tasting Week’ showing off the finest French gastronomy. Pick the dates with the best deals on flights to Marseille, by using Skyscanners tool to see prices for a whole month and cheapest month.
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Airports near Marseille
Frequently asked questions
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