Planning a trip to Marseille? Get some inspiration on what to do while you’re there with our idea of a perfect three-day itinerary. History, culture, entertainment, restaurants… Pack it all in at a comfortable pace and don’t miss a thing!
Your weekend in Marseille begins at the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde. This church, known to residents of Marseille as the “Good Mother”, protects the city and its sailors and is also one of its best lookout points. This Byzantine-inspired masterpiece, a symbol of Marseille, reaches a height of nearly 150 metres. Admire the extraordinary interior of the basilica, which is made from white Carrara marble, pink marble from Brignoles and stones decorated with mosaics. At its summit sits a golden statue of Mary watching over the city.
Head back down the hill for lunch in Marseille’s Vieux-Port. Take a seat on the patio of Le Miramar, a true institution in the city. Here you can enjoy excellent seafood, including the catch of the day. The star of the menu is undoubtedly the exceptional bouillabaisse, one of the best in the city. Take your time to appreciate this soup made with whole fish, croutons, potatoes and a special sauce as your first experience with the culinary specialities of Marseille. The ceremonial preparation of this traditional dish is a unique and authentic experience, almost worth a visit in itself.
In the afternoon, stroll along the Vieux-Port of Marseille. You can feel the city’s heartbeat on the cobblestones at the foot of La Canebière, the most famous street in the Marseille. This Mediterranean city is on full display at the Vieux-Port. Here, fishermen unload their catches, locals and visitors mingle and boats gently buffeted by the wind complete the idyllic scene. It’s a perfect spot to discover the first day of your weekend in Marseille. Pass by the Marseille Soap Museum to learn more about how this local product is made. It’s just the right occasion to pick up a lovely gift with the fragrances of Provence to keep the memory and scents of the region close by.
In the evening, find a comfortable spot on the terrace of the bar-restaurant La Caravelle, where you can enjoy regional specialities. Here you’ll be treated to fish, Provençal vegetables and charcuterie to the soundtrack of live jazz concerts. It’s a cosy setting with a lovely view of the lights of the Vieux-Port: the perfect combination to start your weekend in Marseille.
The next day, head for the recently built Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, which was inaugurated in 2013 to help celebrate the city’s designation as the European Capital of Culture. Discover the exhibits and collection of the MuCEM, a museum dedicated to the history, anthropology and preservation of Mediterranean heritage. It’s a fascinating way to discover Marseille and its civilisations, housed within one of the city’s newest architectural treasures, itself a symbol of economic and cultural renewal.
At lunch, enjoy a stunning view of the sea from the terrace of Môle Passedat. You can choose from three different spaces in this establishment: the Table, the Kitchen or the Café. Whether you prefer the restaurant with its panoramic view or a quick bite on the terrace, you’ll be treated to the local cuisine of chef Gérald Passedat. You’re sure to find something that suits you amongst the many culinary offerings which honour the gastronomic heritage of the region, the Mediterranean and the season. Free range chicken with honey, artichoke stew with a cumin/saffron broth... The restaurant serves authentic cuisine in an idyllic setting, perfect for a weekend in Marseille.
In the afternoon, discover the heritage of the city’s oldest neighbourhood. Visit the narrow roads and steep slopes of the area known as Le Panier. This is where the Phoenicians, the city’s first inhabitants, settled in 600 B.C., and the neighbourhood still stands as a permanent testament to ancient Massalia. Stroll past the artisanal shops and adapt to the pace of the locals who still gather on the famous Place de Lenche, a former Greek agora where events and markets are held today.
It feels like a small Provençal village, and is a perfect place to eat dinner. Find a spot at a table at Entre Terre et Mer, where you can enjoy excellent seafood platters. Delicious oysters, whelks and shrimp are featured on a menu that also includes high quality cheeses and charcuterie to delight your palate. The unusual blue facade of Au Vieux Panier, with its aged painting and tables in the middle of the road offers you a unique setting.
For the last day of your weekend in Marseille, start with a visit of the Cité Radieuse, in the south of the city. This unusual building constructed by Le Corbusier in 1952 is one of the first examples of the Unité d’habitation, a type of residence conceived of as a vertical village. With more than 300 apartments, interior roads and businesses, it was designed to promote the autonomy of the building and its inhabitants. A visit to this example of modern architecture offers you the chance to discover a unique, lively place that is symbolic of the city of Marseille.
Next, head to the Parc Borély, a large green space found near the beaches of the Prado. Enjoy a stroll through the many gardens on this more than 17-hectare site, where you can also discover a surprising sculpture by artist Jean-Michel Folon. His work, L’Homme à l’oiseau, is found at the foot of the park’s waterfall. From there, head for Prado Beach, across from which you can find a replica of Michelangelo's famous David statue.
In the afternoon, stroll along the extraordinary Corniche Kennedy. This walkway, which extends nearly 5 kilometres, offers one of the most beautiful panoramic views you’ll see during your weekend in Marseille. Take a break to admire the stunning view of the Château d’If and the Îles du Frioul while seated on the longest urban bench in the world, nearly three kilometres long. You will also pass by France’s elevation “zero point”, at sea level, which is found on this magnificent promenade. Next you will discover the imposing Parc Valmer and walk along Malmousque Bay before settling down for your final evening.
For dinner, small colourful cabins and pointus, the region’s pointed-bowed fishing boats, welcome you in the stunningly picturesque enclave of Vallon des Auffes. This small fishing village nestled between two cliffs offers you a unique setting just steps away from the downtown Marseille. Taste local fish specialities while sitting in the bay windows of Chez Fonfon, where you can look out at the port while you eat. A John Dory fillet or a piece of roasted sea bass is the perfect accompaniment to the beautiful sunset view. This is truly the Dolce Vita of a weekend in Marseille.
You will love the charm of this port city, a mix of Provençal and Mediterranean culture. You are sure to have fallen completely under the charm of Marseille by the end of these three days, wishing you could extend your stay to discover the lively, colourful neighbourhoods of Noailles and the Cours Julien, or explore the magnificent Parc national des Calanques to the south of the city.