Vue sur le fort saint jean et le vieux port
Immerse yourselfIn the iconic and historical heart of the city

The ‘Vieux-Port’ (Old Port)

Together with ‘Notre-Dame de la Garde’, the ‘Vieux Port’ of Marseille, located at the bottom of the famous ‘Canebière’ is one of the symbols of the city. With gatherings, major events, and fireworks, it is the landmark of the people of Marseille!

It is the focal point of Marseille’s history, where the ancient Greek colony Massalia was founded, and later became the Roman Massilia. The medieval Marsiho was also built around the Old Port. From then on, the port entrance was guarded by two forts, Saint-Nicolas and Saint-Jean fort. Surrounded by limestone cliffs, the city is naturally orientated towards the Mediterranean sea. The primary purpose of Marseille’s ‘Vieux Port’ was trade and over time, the city established networks with increasingly remote destinations.

One of the symbols of the ‘Vieux Port’ was the transporter bridge, a metallic structure joining the two forts, inaugurated in 1905, which was unfortunately destroyed after the Second World War.

The Old Port was renovated in 2013, the same year Marseille was designated European Capital of Culture (easier access to the port, reduced traffic, creation of a shade house by the architect Norman Foster). To this day, the ‘Vieux Port’ remains Marseille’s vibrant hub guarded over by Notre Dame de la Garde.

Book an exclusive guided tour around the Old Port

Did you know ?

The Gyptis and Protis legend is the mythical story of the founding of Marseille (Massalia) around 600 BC by Greek settlers from the city of Phocaea. This myth has been told since the 3rd century BC. It tells the story of the marriage of Gyptis, daughter of Nann, chief of the native Segobridge, to Protis, a sailor from Phocaea. At the time of her wedding, the princess chose to marry the foreigner by offering him a goblet filled with water during a meal. This legend is a tribute to Marseille’s origins as a welcoming city for foreigners. Tourism follows on from this legend.

Marseille’s Ferry-boat

Already over 130 years old

The Ferry-boat, so dear to Marcel Pagnol, departs from City Hall across the ‘Vieux Port’ several times a day. It was launched in June 1880 for the famous route ‘Town Hall to Place aux Huiles’.

In 2010, a more eco-friendly solar-powered Ferryboat took to the water. Nowadays, they both share the crossing.

Saint-Ferréol church

Saint-Ferréol church is not as eye-catching as ‘Notre-Dame de la Garde’. It is a monument from the 16th century located along the ‘Vieux Port’ of Marseille. The Knights Templar commandery stood on the site of the church in the 12th century. When the Templar commandery was abolished and its members scattered, Augustinian monks bought the site in 1369. They undertook the construction of the gothic church which was consecrated in 1542 but only completed in 1588. The Italian-style bell tower dates back to the 18th century. The church was established as a parish in 1803 under the name of Saint-Ferréol as a tribute to the collegiate church of the same name destroyed in 1794 (where the current prefecture stands).

The building originally contained 5 bays and 12 side chapels but urban planning work damaged two of the bays in 1804. When the ‘rue Impériale’ (Imperial street), today ‘rue de la République’ was widened, the cement engineer Désiré Michel built the new neo-baroque façade.

Practical information

Head towards the islands and the Calanques National Park in Marseille!

The ‘Vieux Port’ is also home to the shipping companies offering trips to marvel at the Calanques of Marseille. Choose between a guided tour in the heart of the Calanques National Park and the islands between the Phocaean city and Cassis (Frioul and Riou archipelago) or an unmissable stroll to admire the stunning views of the cliffs plunging into turquoise waters.

Furthermore, the city transport network RTM provides a sea shuttle service between the ‘Vieux Port’ and the districts of ‘Pointe Rouge’ or ‘l’Estaque’ between April and October.