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A Marseille Lover’s Complete 3-Day Tour Guide

Your Complete 3-Day Tour Guide for Marseille

When the Olympic Torch passed through Marseille France in May, the gates opened to hundreds of thousands of guests who will descend on Marseille for the 2024 Olympic Games. This charming cruise port city, France’s second-largest and oldest, is brimming with history, culture, and an irresistible vibrancy. If you are part of the Olympic crowd or on your own, let me take you on a journey through this magnificent city, sharing my favorite spots, the best food, and a bit of the rich history that makes Marseille so compelling.

French Revolution “La Marseillaise”

History of Marseille

Marseille’s history stretches back to the Paleolithic era, around 60,000 BC when early settlers chose its basin for protection against fierce Mistral winds. By 600 BC, the Phocaeans from Asia Minor founded Massalia, blending Greek culture with local Gaul traditions. Under Roman rule, Massalia thrived as a bustling trade center, merging Greek charm with Roman architecture.

During the medieval period, Marseille faced challenges, including sackings by the Visigoths and Franks. By the 12th century, it had revived as a prosperous independent republic with a strong navy. 1481 Marseille became part of France, enduring religious wars and the Great Plague of 1720 but emerging resilient and determined.

Marseille played a pivotal role in the French Revolution, with its men famously marching to Paris singing La Marseillaise,” which became the French National Anthem. The 19th century saw a boom in prosperity and immigration, turning Marseille into a cultural melting pot. Despite the destruction of World War II, Marseille rebuilt itself into a vibrant modern cultural and economic center.

Top Attractions in Marseille

Welcome to Marseille, a city full of history, culture, and scenic views. Whether you’re interested in historic landmarks, lively markets, or beautiful natural spots, Marseille is worth visiting. There are things to do in Marseille France for everyone. Here are some attractions that will make your visit unforgettable.

 

Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde

Ah, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde! Perched on the highest hill in Marseille, this stunning Neo-Byzantine church offers panoramic views that will take your breath away. It’s adorned with beautiful mosaics and has been a place of pilgrimage for sailors and fishermen. If you’re wondering what to see in Marseille, don’t miss it—the view alone is worth the climb.

Old Port (Vieux-Port)

The Vieux-Port is Marseille’s heart and soul. It’s a bustling, vibrant area with cafes, restaurants, and shops. I love strolling along the pier, watching the boats, and often stopping to enjoy fresh seafood at a waterfront restaurant. The daily fish market here is a testament to Marseille’s maritime heritage. It’s one of my favorite things to do in Marseille, France.

Château dd’IfIf you’re a fan of Alexandre Dumas and yyou’rewondering what to do in Marseille France, you must visit Château dd’If This fortress on a small island off the coast was made famous by “”he Count of Monte Cristo.””Take a short boat ride from the Vieux-Port and explore this historical gem. The views from the island are awe-inspiring.

MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations)

MuCEM is a striking architectural marvel dedicated to Mediterranean culture. Opened in 2013, it offers exhibits covering everything from ancient history to contemporary issues. It’s located at the entrance of the Vieux-Port, connected to the historic Fort Saint-Jean by a pedestrian bridge. If you’re not careful, you’ll spend your day at MuCEM checking out all the stunning views.

History Museum of Marseille

The History Museum of Marseille is a must-visit for anyone wanting to delve deep into the city’s rich past. This museum focuses specifically on development from its founding by the Phocaeans to the present day. Located at the site of the ancient Greek port of Massalia, the museum is one of the things to do in Marseille France if you want a chronological journey through history, showcasing archaeological findings and historical artifacts.

Les Calanques

The Calanques National Park is a natural wonder and one of the top things to do in Marseille France, especially for visitors who love the sea. With its steep limestone cliffs, hidden coves, and crystal-clear waters, the Calanques are perfect for hiking, swimming, or just soaking in the beauty. The Calanques are a must-see in Marseille, whether you take a boat tour or hike the trails.

Le Panier District

Le Panier, the oldest district in Marseille, is what you should see if you are fond of art, especially street art. This vibrant neighborhood is characterized by its narrow, winding streets, colorful buildings, and a bohemian atmosphere. As you wander through Le Panier, you’ll discover charming cafes, artisan shops, and street art that add to its unique charm. The area is also home to the Vieille Charité, a beautiful 17th-century building that now houses museums and cultural spaces. Le Panier is one of the things to do in Marseille France if you want to get lost for an afternoon, soaking up the artistic and historic vibe.

Local Cuisine and Restaurants

Marseille is for Foodies

MMarseille’s culinary scene is as diverse as its population, blending French, Italian, Spanish, Middle Eastern, and African influences. My first meal here was at La Brasserie du Port in the Vieux-Port, where I enjoyed a seafood medley with a view I would die for. Marseille is worth visiting for its food alone!

Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse is MMarseille’ssignature dish, a rich Provençal fish stew. I had an unforgettable bouillabaisse at Grand Bar des Goudes, in the charming village of Les Goudes. The journey, with views of the Calanques, was as delightful as the dish. Chez Fonton is another top spot for bouillabaisse. But honestly, there are plenty of fantastic places near the Old Port. If you’re really into food, book a cooking class with Gilles Conchy of Provence Gourmet to explore more of MMarseille’s culinary delights.

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Street Food and Little Istanbul

For a taste of the Middle East, head to the neighborhoods around the Old Port (Vieux-Port) and areas such as Noailles and Belsunce, where you can find an array of Turkish delicacies. This area beautifully showcases the multicultural food scene, from freshly baked pastries to flavorful kebabs. Favorites are Tombik Döner, located near the Vieux-Port, and Le Bodrum, in the heart of Marseille.

Michelin-Star Restaurants

Marseille has several Michelin-starred restaurants for a more upscale dining experience. According to the “”est of Marseille,“the best places to eat with friends include Cedrat, Ourea, Le Regain, and for a fantastic view from the seventh floor of the Sofitel, Les Trois Forts.

I’d love to publish your review!

Travel Tips and Itineraries

Getting Around

Marseille is well-connected with a transportation system that includes buses, trams, and a metro. I highly recommend getting a City Pass, which offers unlimited access to public transport, free entry to several museums, and discounts on various attractions. For those who prefer a more leisurely pace, renting a bicycle through Le Vélo is an eco-friendly way to explore the city. If you want to create your own tour, start with a Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus for an overview of the area.

Marseille Experience describes things to do in Marseille France and pricing for planned tours and rentals for bikes, scooters, boats, and more. 

Accommodation

Marseille offers a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets. The Vieux-Port area is ideal for its central location and access to major attractions. For a more unique experience, consider the historic Le Panier district, known for its charming streets and artistic vibe.

 


Things to do in Marseille France: Itinerary Suggestions

Day 1: Explore the Heart of Marseille

Day 2: Historical and Natural Wonders

Day 3: Cultural Immersion

Additional Events and Activities

In addition to the main Olympic events this summer, Marseille will host various cultural and leisure activities. There will be plenty to see and do, from music festivals and outdoor cinema screenings to guided historical tours and special exhibitions at local museums. Activities include:

 

Marseille promises to be an unforgettable experience during the 2024 Summer Olympics. It will blend world-class sporting events with its rich cultural heritage and vibrant local life. Whether you’re a sports fan, a culture enthusiast, or simply looking to enjoy the unique atmosphere of this historic port and cruise port city, Marseille is worth visiting. In fact, it’s the place to be.

 

 

4 Responses

  1. A stone’s throw from Le Vieux Port is L’Épicerie Idéale – a must-visit, magical little place, both an upscale grocery and restaurant that brings local, organic producte from farm to pantry/table. Lunches are fun and trendy with traditional ingredients. There’s also a large variety variety of carefully chosen spices, jams and oils as well as great cooking books. The owner’s mother knows her food – she’s the daughter of adored and revered Michelin star chef Reine Sammut of La Fenière! I never miss it when I’m in Marseille! Nor will I ever walk by Maison L’Empereur a few steps down the road, without an extended browse in this amazing shop

    L’Épicerie Idéale, 11 rue d’Aubagne, 30001 Marseille.

    1. Great additions to see in Marseille. A few photos of Maison L’Empereur are on the video. Love that place, too!

  2. 70+ trips to France and I have yet to visit Marseille, but you have convinced me to put it on the list, perhaps during our stay near Grasse, in January. Maybe we’ll meet a certain Barefoot Blogger there 😉

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