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10 things to know before visiting Marseille

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Judit Llordes
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If Marseille is beautiful, it is its multicultural population that makes it so charming. The city's ability to integrate people from different backgrounds and cultures into its operations leaves one dreaming of. Its image of an airtight city, withdrawn into itself, has endured for a long time, while its long history, on the contrary, proves its openness and tolerance. Here is everything you need to know before visiting Marseille!





Travel to Marseille, the oldest French city

To visit Marseille is to take a trip down memory lane. Indeed, it is the oldest city in France! Its heritage is therefore invaluable and constantly revalued.. Recently, the image of the city has changed, to our great pleasure. Slowly but surely, it takes the measure of its strengths, especially in terms of geography, and wishes to share them with passing visitors. The creeks are therefore one of the essentials of the Marseille city!

When is the best time to visit Marseille?

The Phocaean city enjoys a privileged geographical position and as such enjoys plenty of sunshine for a large part of the year. Summer is particularly hot there with temperatures often exceeding 30 ° C. and nights which remain pleasant thanks to the mistral which often comes to refresh the atmosphere of the city. In summer, you can also take advantage of the surrounding beaches and creeks to dive into the blue waters of the Mediterranean and let yourself go lounging in the full sun.

Creeks

Spring and autumn are also very auspicious to visit Marseille. The sun makes its appearance here much earlier than in most of France and shines its beneficent rays on the city until the middle of autumn. The city is also less attacked by tourists. and the atmosphere is therefore more relaxed. In winter, the climate remains mild and the temperatures do not drop much. Nevertheless, we can sometimes observe some significant snowy episodes or, at least, more frequent rains. But it is not necessarily unpleasant to feel the drops on your skin to visit Marseille!





What budget is to be expected on site?

Although the city is a French tourist city and therefore displays prices equivalent to any destination in the country, it is quite possible to visit Marseille at a lower cost. Indeed, there are many very affordable youth hostels and most hotels are around 20% cheaper than in Paris or Bordeaux. It is possible to find a room in a one star hotel for 40 euros per night. Even luxury accommodation benefits from the popular aspect of Marseille's personality, which drastically lowers hotel prices.

On the transport side, the price of the bus ticket is 1,80 euros and the dense network allows you to reach any point of interest in the city quickly. The city also offers transport passes that allow you to take the bus, tram, metro and maritime shuttles. for varying durations. The 7-day pass costs 13,5 euros, for example. The average price per kilometer for taxis is 1,5 euros, which makes Marseille one of the cheapest large cities in France in this area. Finally, there are many outdoor activities that make it easier to travel economically!

How to get to Marseille?

With its thousand-year-old history and its central position in Europe, Marseille has been at the heart of European trade throughout its existence. Today, it is therefore very well served by major roads. It can be easily reached by car or by carpooling from the continent's largest urban centers. The rail network is also very dense in the city. From Paris, Nice, Toulouse, Lyon and much more, you can directly access the city center by arriving at the famous Gare Saint-Charles or one of the other two stations in Marseille.





The old port of Marseille

You can also get to Marseille by plane. Marignane airport is just as well served as the local train stations. From Paris, a train ticket will cost between 30 and 60 euros depending on the season and affluence, while a plane ticket will be around 120 euros per person round trip. To visit Marseille at a lower cost, we can also turn to the various bus companies which connect the Phocaean city to most of the big cities of France. You will thus gradually enter the universe of the city by first discovering its outlying districts.

How to get around on site?

In Marseille, public transport is managed by the RTM (Régie des Transports Métropolitains): Tram, bus and metro make up the network. In addition, since October 2007, the city has embarked on the service of self-service bicycle rental, called "Le Vélo". Discover Marseille by pedaling on the city's cycle paths! There are bicycle stations approximately every 300 meters.

What to eat and drink in Marseille?

To visit Marseille without tasting its gastronomy would be disrespecting centuries-old cuisine, nourished by the diversity of its influences. Bouillabaisse is surely the most emblematic dish of local gastronomy. This mixture of noble fish and potatoes, served with garlic croutons and spread with rouille is a pure delight! Among seafood, we also recommend Anchoïade, accompanied by seasonal raw vegetables or Poutargue, the famous Mediterranean caviar. But Provence is also Aïoli, made from olive oil and garlic of course or even Tapenade, delicious crushed olives, capers and anchovies.





The bouillabaisse

For those who have chosen to visit Marseille Without giving up their preference for meat, we recommend Pied-packets. Lamb offal and sheep's trotters stuffed with salt, all simmered in a tomato and white wine sauce, what are the people asking for? Sweets are also present in the Marseille landscape with the famous Chichis, these delicious donuts made with wheat flour and chickpeas, flavored with orange blossom. Finally, we should not forget the essential Pastis. The king of Marseille counters can be eaten here for two cents and always refreshes the spirits in hot weather.

In which district to stay in Marseille during your stay?

The Old Port district is the nerve center of Marseille. Ideal for exploring all parts of the city and places of interest, it also hosts a large number of bars and restaurants and many adjacent streets allow to satisfy shopping desires. But if your budget is tight, forget it because a night here will cost you no less than 100 euros. La Canebière is also quite expensive, but the most famous avenue in Marseille offers a good compromise between nighttime festivities and traditional activities with its Provencal market.

La Canebière

The district of La Plaine is the favorite place for students and artists. Here, street art is king and art in all its forms takes advantage of the cultural momentum that reigns there. In addition, the neighborhood is rather inexpensive. The Panier district has the advantage of being almost entirely pedestrian, which allows you to find a little rest in the bustling activity of Marseille. Small alleys as narrow as they are colorful connect sites of interest such as the Hôtel Dieu or the courtyard of Accoules and contribute to the atmosphere of an authentic district and not so expensive given its proximity to the city center.

What are the main museums and monuments to discover?

Visit Marseille by strolling at random in its ancient streets is already an end in itself for the curious traveler but certain places double the walk of a significant historical or cultural interest. Our Lady of the Guard, affectionately nicknamed the Good Mother by the locals, is the city's most emblematic building. Perched on its natural throne, it offers a breathtaking panorama of the city. The Cathedral of the Major is equally impressive for its centuries-old history and the dynamism of its neighborhood. Neighborhood which has also benefited from the establishment of MUCEM, the museum dedicated to the civilizations of the Mediterranean, to find an important place in the hearts of tourists.

Our Lady of the Guard

The Palais Longchamp also has multiple interests. On the site, we find the water tower wanted by Napoleon III but also sumptuous gardens for shelter in the shade and two important museums, that of Fine Arts and the Museum of Natural History. The Château d'If is both magnificent and disturbing. Inspiring the adventures of the Count of Monte Cristo, this maritime fortress watches over the city while demonstrating the former royal power. The Vieille Charité, which was once a coercive asylum for the poor and vagabonds, is now a delight for history buffs who can learn in two museums devoted to Oceanic and Amerindian arts as well as archeology. Finally, we highly recommend a little detour to the Port Antique, place of establishment of the first Greek founders, to plunge back into the early days of Marseilles history.

What walks are to do in Marseille and its surroundings?

To visit Marseille, the walk is ideal because it allows you to immerse yourself completely in the different personalities of the city. Stroll on the quays of the Old Port and discover the town hall or the fish markets, zigzagging through the narrow streets of the Panier by aiming at the various points of interest in the sector or even walking up the Canebière to reach the refreshing gardens of the Palais Longchamp will allow you to take the pulse of the city and notice that here, each district has its own rhythm.

A street in the Le Panier district

Around Marseille, you can take the Corniche cycle path to reach the Prado beaches and, why not, take the time for a baptism of diving or kayaking. You can also discover the Hippodrome de Marseille and indulge in reverie in the gardens of the Chateau Borely during the same ride. If you want to relive the Portuguese literature, board a sea shuttle that will take you to L'Estaque. In this small fishing port, you can taste delicious panisses or chichis and take the time to live in the solar rhythm. Finally, we cannot recommend enough to make a detour through Cassis and its famous creeks. In addition to a raw and wild nature, you can admire the dives of the locals and maybe even try it!

Useful information

Here are a few things that will help you prepare for your trip:

  • The Marseille Pass: Prepaid card which allows access to many tourist sites and activities (example: free entry to 15 museums, guided tour with a tour guide, reductions in certain shops including Galeries Lafayette, etc.). In addition, you have the option of freely using the entire public transport network.
  • Marseille Tourist Office: The official website will allow you to organize your stay and find out about activities and events.

Follow the song of the cicadas and discover the Marseille city!

Have you ever visited Marseille and its surroundings? Share your good addresses and tips in the comments!

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