Our suggestions for tours
Discover Marseille in 1, 2, or 3 days: To help you get the most out of your stay in Marseille and to ensure you do not miss a thing, we have some ideas for tours to discover the city in 1, 2 or 3 days
1st day: The must-see sights
Morning: Marseille seen from above
Leave the Old Port on bus 60, on the little tourist train or with the Grand Tour de Marseille to go to Notre Dame de la Garde. Notre Dame de la Garde "La Bonne Mère", the emblematic figure of the City watches over sailors, fishermen and all the inhabitants of Marseille. A unique viewpoint over the city, the Old Port, the Panier district, the islands of Le Frioul and If, the north of Marseille, the beaches and the hills encircling the city. Tour of the basilica adorned with mosaics and numerous ex-voto offerings. Discovery of the fish market on the Quai des Belges, as you amble along the port quays. Possibility of crossing the Old Port by the famous Ferry Boat in either direction, the crossing is free.
Lunch in one of the many restaurants to be found on or around the Old Port. Whether you fancy a bouillabaisse or a light lunch with Provencal flavours, you will find exactly what you are looking for on the port quay, Quai de la Mairie, Cours Estienne d’Orves, Rue Saintes and the surrounding areas.
Afternoon: Around the Old Port :
Le Panier. Tucked away behind the town hall is the historical heart of the city called "Le Panier". The name ("basket”) is said to come from the name of an auberge, "Le Logis du Panier", established in the 17th century. Alone or with a guide (guided tours are possible with the Tourist Office and Convention Bureau) on the small tourist train or on foot, discover the secret charm of the oldest quarter of Marseille. Possibility of visiting the Musée de Vieille Charité and the Roman Docks Museum (both closed on Mondays), or the Préau des Accoules, a Museum devoted to children. From the Old Port, walk along La Canebière to Cours Julien home to the “Regards de Provence” foundation at the Palace of Arts, to discover the current exhibition, and then continue your journey to the Palais Longchamp.
As you make your way back to the Old Port, take the opportunity to pick out some souvenirs of Marseille (olive oil soaps, Pastis, lavender, navettes cakes, santons, OM shop, etc.). Shopaholics will find everything they need in Rue Saint-Férreol, Rue Paradis, Rue de la République, home to the major chain stores, luxury brands as well as small designers.
2nd day: Marseille beside the sea
Discovery of the seafront, Marseille’s harbour and its islands
Work on the Corniche started in 1848 and was completed in 1863 with the construction of two bridges spanning the creeks of Les Auffes and La Fausse-Monnaie. The Corniche is seen as a maritime public thoroughfare. As you walk along it you can discover the islands of Marseille, the beautiful mansion houses, the Porte d'Orient, the tide gauge, the monument to the repatriated, hidden beaches and numerous restaurants.
Take bus 83 or a bike along the Corniche or the Grand Tour and continue along Corniche Kennedy to the beaches of Le Prado. Discovery of the little port of Vallon des Auffes, Malmousque quarter, and the beaches of Le Prado. (Possibility of taking a maiden dive or a kayak trip to discover the bay of Marseille by sea.) Further along is Marseille’s racecourse with a nine-hole golf course in the middle. Along the seafront there are cycle paths, Borely Park and its botanical Garden. As you continue towards Les Goudes or Callelongue following directions to Pointe Rouge you are coming to the edge of Marseille. This little haven of peace, seemingly at the end of the world, is the ideal location for an aperitif on the water's edge.
As you head back to the city centre it is possible to stop at the stade Vélodrome
Le Stade Vélodrome : the home of Marseille football, was built in 1937 by the architect Ploquin for the 1938 World Cup and redesigned by J.P Buffi for the 1998 World Cup. It has a capacity of 60,000. In preparation for Euro 2016, the Grand Stade, due to be completed in 2014, will be able to hold up to 67,000 and will boast shops, a hotel, etc.
A little further along on, Boulevard Michelet, is the Unité d’Habitation (Housing Unit) built by the architect Le Corbusier in 1952 and known informally as “La Maison du Fada” (The Lunatic’s House). This building remains a model example of post-war architecture and opens its doors to visitors. (Guided tours are possible with the Tourist Office and Convention Bureau). Return to the Old Port for immediate embarkation
3rd day: From L’Estaque to the calanques passing through Euroméditerrannée
A day in the Calanques : Discover the Calanques National Park
Marseille to Cassis for more energetic walkers takes 11 hrs. A family walk leaving from Callelongue to the calanque of Marseilleveyre takes 1½ hrs. Superb views over the islands of Marseille. A number of itineraries available (pick up the IGN (national geographic institute) map of the Calanques and read the access rules and regulations at the Tourist Office and Convention Bureau).
Depending on your preferences: Visit to the quarter of L’Estaque
Situated to the north of Marseille, L’Estaque has remained a small fishing port, with an industrial past finely portrayed in the film “Marius and Jeannette”. This quarter was also very popular with painters from the end of the 19th century, firstly following in the wake of Cézanne, then at the beginning of the 20th century with Braque and the beginnings of Cubism. A gourmet stop is a must in order to taste the famous panisses and Chichis Freggis made exclusively in the chichi huts on the port of L’Estaque.
The Fortin de Corbières houses the Monticelli Museum qui a ouvert ses which opened its doors in 2010. This museum displays the largest collection of works by the Marseille painter and also organises wonderful temporary exhibitions.
Guided tours of the quarter are also organised by the Tourist Office and Convention Bureau. (programme varies).
Lunch break at L’Estaque in one of the many restaurants on the port, to enjoy a freshly-landed grilled fish.