What to do in your free time in Marseille

A city full of activities

Relax and make the most of your free time in Marseille during your business trip, conference or event. Discover the wonders of the city by embarking on a boat trip to the Château d’If and the Frioul islands, soak up culture with a visit to the famous Mucem, stroll through the charming alleyways of the Panier district and admire the splendor of the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica. Don’t forget to sample local culinary delights, such as the legendary bouillabaisse. Treat yourself to unforgettable moments in this enchanting destination.

Published on 17 November 2023
Pascale BigoPascale Bigo
©Pascale Bigo
Pascale Bigo
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Château d'If and the Frioul Islands

Frioul Island, off the coast of Marseille, is home to the iconic Château d’If, a historic fortress built in the early Renaissance. This majestic castle, famous for its role in Alexandre Dumas’ novel Le Comte de Monte-Cristo, has become one of Marseille’s most visited tourist sites. When you visit the island, you’ll discover a captivating blend of history and legend. Explore the towers, ramparts and cells of this fearsome prison, where historical figures and opponents of the regime were locked up. Admire engravings by former prisoners and soak up the atmosphere steeped in history. From the terrace of the Grande Tour, enjoy a breathtaking view of the Frioul archipelago, the surrounding calanques and the magnificent city of Marseille. A visit to the Château d’If and Frioul Island promises an unforgettable experience combining culture, history and breathtaking panoramas.

Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica

When you’re in Marseille on a business trip, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the famous basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde. This emblematic edifice of the city watches over sailors, fishermen and all Marseillais. Affectionately nicknamed the “Good Mother”, it offers a breathtaking panorama from the hilltop where it sits majestically. Visible from every corner of the city and facing the Mediterranean Sea, the basilica is a true symbol of Marseille.

The architectural beauty both outside and inside the basilica, as well as the 360-degree panoramic view over the entire city, make this edifice Marseille’s most visited monument. You can reach it on foot, or opt for a ride on the little tourist train, allowing you to enjoy the ride without having to climb the hill on foot. Whether you’re a believer or simply looking for an enriching experience, the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica is a must-see in Marseille.

The Panier district

Discover the Panier district, one of Marseille’s hidden treasures, if you have the opportunity during your business trip to Marseille. Immerse yourself in the heart of the city’s oldest district and let its mythical charm wash over you. Between the lively little café terraces, the colorful facades decorated with street art and the charming designer boutiques, you’ll be transported to a veritable open-air museum. Numerous cultural venues make up this district, such as the Maison Diamantée and its facade decorated with diamond-tipped bosses, the Hôtel de Cabre, which is one of the oldest houses in Marseille, or la Vieille Charité, nestled in the heart of Le Panier, which invites relaxation and cultural discovery thanks to its many temporary and permanent exhibitions.

The Mucem

The must-see Mucem, with its three sites spread over almost 45,000 m², is a true jewel of the city of Marseille. Located at the entrance to the port, on the J4 harbor mole and in Fort Saint-Jean, it offers a unique panorama of Marseille’s development and historical heritage. The first major national museum dedicated to Mediterranean civilizations for the 21st century, it opened its doors in 2013 and has quickly become one of Marseille’s most visited museums. A permanent exhibition is available, called La galerie de la Méditerranée, which lets you discover the major milestones of Mediterranean civilizations, while the second floor hosts temporary exhibitions.

The Mucem offers a wide variety of facilities and activities. You can attend shows, concerts, stroll through its bookshop and even enjoy a unique culinary experience at the restaurant run by 3-star chef Gérald Passédat located on the top floor of the Mucem, offering breathtaking views thanks to its panoramic terrace.

A typical Marseille dish: bouillabaisse

Marseille is full of typical culinary specialties such as anchoïade, soupe au pistou, supions… But the most emblematic remains the bouillabaisse. This emblematic dish was born of the ingenuity of fishermen who, sorting the fish destined for sale, reserved certain pieces to prepare a family meal. Over the years, the recipe has been perfected, and now incorporates a binding base and sometimes even shellfish. It is traditionally served in two separate courses, with the beautifully prepared fish on one side, and the hot broth on the other. Depending on your preference, you can mix the two in a soup plate, or enjoy them separately.

You can find all the Marseille restaurants offering bouillabaisse here.