With its fantastic location, great climate, busy harbor, and infectious urban energy, the French city of Marseille will catch any visitor’s attention. It is the oldest city in the country and is second to the French capital as the largest city. Marseille has just enough to keep any visitor coming back for more. Everywhere in the city, tourists are close to the calm blue waters- whether treading along a beguiling old street with a vista or feeling the soothing sea breeze.
>>Also Read: Marseille Travel Guide
Here Are Some Things Marseille Is Worth Visiting
Adore the Imposing Notre Dame de la Garde
This cathedral is one of the city’s most emblematic landmarks, located on a hilltop that looks over Marseille and the sea. You can reach it with the bus since visiting there on foot means having to face the exhausting climb to the summit, and some buses leave every 30 minutes or so from Vieux Port. They take visitors up to the sanctuary’s doors. Notre Dame de la Garde is free to visit, and the mosaic interior, like the gorgeous views of Marseille, is bewitching. Notre Dame is located at Rue Fort du Sanctuaire, Marseille, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, 13281.
Indulge in a Boat Ride to Les Calanques
Les Calanques is one of the many reasons why Marseille is worth visiting. If the weather allows, a comforting boat ride to the astonishing Calanques is necessary for any visitor, especially in the summer. Calanques is an expanse of coast between Marseille and Cassis. Beautiful views, stunning beaches, and a comforting sea breeze are some of the major attractions that holidaymakers will be able to have while seeing the Parc National des Calanques. Alternatively, you can cycle around the area and appreciate the landscape by yourself, or even cycle to one of the beaches and then rent a canoe or a kayak as you paddle your way out of the cliffs.
Meander Around the Vieux Port
Also known as the Old Harbor, Vieux Port is perhaps the most important part of the city. Vacationers can head there to take photos, watch the boats, eat some fresh fish, or ride the Ferris wheel. This place is part of Marseille’s highlights, so it’s worth multiple visits. In the summer, sunsets are especially astonishing, so wait in the area until early evening for some awe-inspiring views.
Enlighten Yourself on Marseille’s Mediterranean History at MuCEM
MuCEM is Marseille’s best museum. It catalogs Mediterranean history and civilizations and offers an insightful exposition into the way they grew until they assumed their current form today. Asides from the exhibitions, you will find mini films or lectures to assist visitors better in knowing the Mediterranean culture. Gods, travel routes, spices, and gardens are just a few of the range of topics in this astounding museum.
Admire the Cathédrale de la Major’s Beautiful Domed Towers
The city’s cathedral is definitely worth seeing, being one of Marseille’s most significant buildings. Looking over the sea, this place is incredible for photographs and views. Its massive structure, made up of many domes, is high with a height of 16m. (52 ft), and the use of white and green limestone might refresh the mind about Florence’s Duomo, but the interior has been embellished in an utterly different style. Access to the cathedral is free. It is located at Place de la Major, Marseille, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, 1302.
Go on a Trip to Le Panier, Marseille’s Old Town
The city’s Old Town is one of the most beautiful areas that visitors will find anywhere in the country. It can be accessed without stress from the Vieux Port as it is located on a close-by hillside. In 600 BC, it was first inhabited when the Greeks settled there, and that is why it is the oldest part of Marseille. The flashy area is popular for being the most culturally diverse part of the city, making it a special place to go for a delightful stroll or to spend an evening.
See Palais Longchamp, Marseille’s Oldest Museum
The regal Palais Longchamp is the site of Marseille’s Musee des Beaux-Arts, which is the city’s oldest museum. Home to a wonderful catalog of expert pieces, the gallery features works by Italian and Provencal artists. In addition, most works in the museum date from the 1600s to the present day. Asides from the impressive pieces, the palace has a great park too that locals visit in their droves when they want to enjoy the splendid weather. The place is one of the few green spots in Marseille’s center. Palais Longchamp is located at Boulevard Jardin Zoologique, Marseille, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur.
>>Also Read: What is Marseille Famous For
Take on Château d’If, the 1500s Castle
Have you, by chance, come across The Count of Montecristo by Alexandre Dumas or read it? Then the island’s name won’t be strange to you. Even though some guides have suggested that the events in the book actually took place, the fictional count was never imprisoned here, even though this makes Château d’If no less interesting: visitors will have the chance to learn a great deal about the 1500s castle’s history as a prison for real-life political antagonists of the government.
Try Some Pastis
France might be known for its sophisticated and elegant cuisine and wine scene, the city of Marseille, is especially popular for its pastis. It is an anise-flavored aperitif also called ‘pastage’ by locals. There are many spots across Marseille to sample this traditional favorite. Usually, the aperitif is served with a water jug so drinkers can dilute the beverage to make it as weak or strong as they like. If you want to have a wide selection to choose from, proceed to Olives and Pastis, where there are 16 variations to choose from. It is located at 27 Rue Sainte, Marseille, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, 13001, France.
Stroll Through La Canebière, Marseille’s Biggest Avenue
Not far from Le Panier and the Vieux Port, La Canebière is another of the city’s most significant areas. It is Marseille’s biggest avenue, and it represents the affluence that the city used to have. The imposing, magnificent structures and stately hotels that once stood on each side of the street have now been converted into dining establishments, offices, or shops. Still, they retain some of their former brilliance. The avenue spans almost 1 km from the Vieux Port and extends to the brisk Capucin neighborhood and others.
Appreciate Basilique Saint-Victor
This sanctuary of worship belongs to an abbey founded in the 5th-century and is now devoted to the martyr Saint-Victor. You will feel a medieval vibe by observing the exterior, and the sanctuary has a special ambiance because of its ancient past. The church’s foundation dates back to the Early Christian and Carolingian eras, even though the turreted towers are from the 1000s and 1300s. There is the initial catacomb chapel in the script and the Grotto of Saint-Victor. You will also find the 1200s Black Madonna in the basilica. Being one of the oldest buildings in the city that is still in shape, this place is a must-visit, especially if you are an architectural buff. Basilique Saint-Victor is located at 3, Rue de l’Abbaye, Marseille.
Be Dazed at the Specialties of Vieille Charité
Located on the Place des Moulins is the Vieille Charité. The structure was made in 1640 when the city town council chose to offer the poor residents a decent place to live. This complied with a royal decree of “enclosing the poor”. A three-floor public hospital, in 1749, with four wings was appended to the structure. There is a chapel at the center of the hospital’s complex. It was built from 1679 to 1707 and is a great piece of baroque architecture. Dating from 1863, its façade is more modern. Vieille Charité is located at 2 Rue de la Charite, Marseille.
Also Read: Is Marseille Expensive?
Yes, Marseille is an incredible city and definitely worth visiting. Also, ignore the people that say that Marseille is a dangerous place and should be avoided. The city of Marseille is an old one with several things to do and see that will keep you thoroughly engaged for days. I have compiled a list of some of the best attractions and memorable experiences you can forge for yourself when in Marseille. Interestingly, what Marseille offers is well beyond this list, but I do hope that you can start from here because the city is better experienced than read.