If you’re thinking of a trip to the French coast, then consider Marseille, France. Often overlooked, this part of France is a charming city by the port. Filled with clear waters and incredible rock formations, Marseille boasts of being the second largest, as well as the oldest city in the whole of France. It is rich in historical history, therefore, as you plan your trip to Marseille, exploring and learning about the historical landmarks in the region, should be on your itinerary. Below are our recommendations on things to do and see when planning a trip to Marseille. We only spent two days here, but could have easily stayed more.
TAKE A STROLL AROUND THE VIEUX-PORT
The Vieux-Port, also known as Old Harbour, is probably one of the most popular parts of the whole of Marseille. It gives off an urban type vibe, along with an intricate blend of cultures. Local and international travellers flock to this area all year round. Why not take a leisurely stroll around the harbour and grab a bite of some fresh seafood. Here, you can also watch the boat rides at sea. A noteworthy fact, is that sunsets during late autumn (we visited in October) are particularly pleasant to watch. On certain days, there are also various market stalls selling souvenirs, crafts, meat and fresh fish produce.
ENJOY LOCAL CUISINE – BOUILLABAISSE
Maresille is a paradise location for fish lovers! The local dish is the famous Bouillabaisse stew, consisting of a variety of seafood. If you really want to experience that luscious taste of Marseille, then the Bouillabaisse is the way to go. For the less adventurous type, there are of course many different cuisines available.
CRUISE THROUGH CALANQUES NATIONAL PARK
The southern and eastern suburbs of Marseille uniquely brush up to the natural beauty of the sea. While in Marseille, I recommend taking a boat cruise and admire the Calanques. With white limestone cliffs, craggy in nature, together with a refreshing sea breeze, this makes for a perfect afternoon outing. If you’re a swimmer or a hiking fan, then this is the perfect location for you. The views and scenery make it worthwhile. We saw many enthusiastic hikers and swimmers while on our boat trip. Our guided boat ride was 3 hours return and truly spectacular.
VIEW CHATEAU D’IF
Built in the mid 1500’s, this fortress was originally intended as a coastal defence station. If you’re familiar with the 2002 classic film, ‘The Count of Monte Cristo”, then you’ll recognise Chateau d’If as the prison used in the movie.
When taking a boat cruise from Vieux-Port to the Calanques, you’ll be sure to pass this iconic landmark.
VISIT NOTRE-DAME DE LA GARDE
While visiting Marseille you cannot fail to spot this magnificent monument that towers beyond the south of Old Port’s skyline. The monument is a catholic church built in the 19th century, and home to a large golden statue of the Virgin. You can head to the very top of the neo-Byzantine building, for a stunning 360 degree view of the city. The basilica was meant to be a religious sanctuary and a watch tower too. The scenery is more than jaw-dropping. Inside you’ll also find a small restaurant serving light meals and refreshments. The climb to the top cannot be taken lightly, so catch the small tourist train from the Old Port making it easier on your legs.