Marseille is located in southeastern France and is one of France’s largest cities – the second behind Paris. It is a metropolitan city that also has a rich and eclectic history. This port city has seen a mix of people and cultures for thousands of years. Modern Marseille is filled with nightlife, great restaurants, theaters, museums, and even an international soccer stadium. Many say that Marseille is not the kind of city you will fall in love with as it is too industrial, but, while the city is a bit gritty, I think the beautiful waterfront and stunning building make it an easy city to love.
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Marseille
1. Le Vieux Port
2. Notre Dame de la Garde
3. Vieille Charite
4. Walk La Corniche
5. Château d’If (If Castle)
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Le Cours Julien and La Plaine
This is known as the trendy part of Marseille and is full of bookstores, cafes, fountains, and tons of walking space. Every Thursday and Saturday morning, the Plaine market takes place here and offers the best opportunity to shop for bargains.
2. Borely Park
A beautiful park only about 1,000 feet from the ocean. You can go there to have a nap, meditate, have a picnic, play some sports, or venture down for an afternoon drink in any of the numerous restaurants or bars on the beach.
3. Le Panier
This is the oldest area in Marseille and in French its name means “the basket.” While you are here, be sure to gaze at the Vielle Charite, an old monument that now has museums and exhibitions.
4. La Place Castellane
This roundabout has a magnificent fountain surrounded in columns and sculptures. On the street are excellent cinemas and cafes. This is a pretty neat place to check out.
5. Mazargues War Cemetery
On the way to Luminy, you’ll come across this cemetery, which is dedicated to martyrs from the WWI and WWII Allied nations. This place is very serene — perfect for reflection and some down time.
6. Palais de Longchamp
This is a quiet, public garden in the center of Marseille that dates back to the mid-19th century. There is a stunning fountain here, and the Durance river is nearby, and everywhere you can see gorgeous symbolic figures.
7. Fort St. Nicolas
Built between 1660-1664, this fort was used to aid in the protection of the port of Marseille. Today it is separated into two parts. Beyond the fort to the northwest is the Park of the Pharo.
8. Eat in Noailles
This area of the city (around the Noailles subway station) is known for its Arab, Indian and Chinese influence. As such, it has some great places to eat ethnic food for a reasonable price.
9. Go diving
Diving may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of France, but Marseille is trying to make a name for itself as the country’s diving capital. If you’ve been to world-class dive sites, this won’t be for you, but it’s a great opportunity for beginner divers to gain exposure to the underwater world. Snorkeling and other dive activities start at 23 EUR.