8 ideas for activities in sunny Marseille

Would you like to head off into the sunshine for a vacation with your family, partner or friends? Marseille is brimming with outdoor activities to enjoy the sublime Mediterranean climate, both in summer and winter. An attractive destination par excellence, it welcomes you for an unforgettable stay that rhymes with city, sea and nature.

1. Sunbathe on the docks of the Vieux-Port

An emblematic district of the Phocaean city, the Vieux-Port welcomes the stalls of freshly caught fish merchants every morning. It’s the perfect place to stroll under the Provencal sun while enjoying a splendid view of the sea and the boats.
Just next to the seafood market is the ombrière imagined by Briton Norman Foster. This immense 22-metre by 48-metre mirrored ceiling reflects the Quai des Belges as well as Marseillais and tourists passing beneath it. A real eye-catcher, this infrastructure is an ideal way to protect yourself from the sun’s rays during a short break while strolling along the docks of the Vieux-Port.

2. Explore the Panier’s narrow streets and squares

While in sunny Marseille, stroll the picturesque streets of the Panier district, the oldest district of the Phocaean city, which inspired the producers of the TV series Plus belle la vie to build the fictional Mistral district. Located in the 2nd district, this atypical place with its narrow, colorful and planted alleys, will be the opportunity for you to shop in artisanal boutiques where many shopkeepers will welcome you with their lilting accents. This neighborhood is home to a number of restaurants with terraces, where you’ll be able to sample Provencal specialties such as bouillabaisse, a recipe based on fish and broth.

3. To the Château d’If and the Frioul Islands

Why not take a sea shuttle from the Vieux-Port to the Frioul Islands (Pomègues, Ratonneau, Tiboulen and If)? In the sunshine, you’ll discover the local flora and fauna, as well as some of Marseille’s history. Away from the city center, you’ll enjoy a moment of escape that lets you sample the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea, appreciate the seabed and explore the archipelago’s remains. On the island of If, you can visit the If castle, a former state prison made famous by Alexandre Dumas in Le Comte de Monte-Cristo, the novel in which the hero is imprisoned in the fortress. Classified as a historic monument in 1926, it attracts almost 100,000 visitors a year.

4. Head out to sea to discover the calanques

An outdoor activity not to be missed during your stay in Marseille: a visit to the calanques by boat! Departing from the Vieux-Port, you’ll enjoy exceptional views of Marseille’s harbor, the Frioul islands, the Château d’If and the Marseilleveyre massif throughout your excursion. The first national park in Europe to combine land, sea, islands and peri-urban areas, the Calanques National Park covers the communes of Marseille, Cassis and La Ciotat. It comprises 5,000 hectares of majestic scenery and 20 kilometers of coastline. During your sea voyage, stop off at a calanque to picnic, sunbathe or swim, especially if the temperature is high. You’ll also have the chance to admire the biodiversity-rich heritage treasures that are part of an environmental protection program.

5. Take a walk under the pines, from Luminy to the Sugiton belvedere

For those who enjoy hiking in the sunshine, from Luminy you can discover Sugiton, one of Marseille’s most beautiful calanques. With its sumptuous scenery, the Calanque de Sugiton – surrounded by extensive natural areas and mountainous reliefs – is usually a tourist favorite. You’ll be able to bask on the beach or take a dip in the crystal-clear waters after your walk. A panoramic view between sea and mountains is also accessible from the tour d’Orient, the name given to the Sugiton belvedere, where an orientation table awaits you. Culminating at 245 meters, this belvedere offers one of the most beautiful 360° views of the entire Calanques National Park. Leaving from Luminy (accessible via bus line B1 or 521), it will take you around 30 minutes to walk to the lookout and 45 minutes to reach the calanque.

6. Lounging on the Pointe Rouge beach

Beyond the Prado seaside park lies the Pointe Rouge, Marseille’s largest beach made up of fine sand. It’s a popular spot in summer, attracting mainly a family crowd. Alongside, you’ll find various restaurants, bars, clubs and pubs providing refreshment and atmosphere. Near the small port of Pointe Rouge, you’ll have access to various water sports such as sailing, diving, rowing, canoeing… Young and old love lounging on this beach and enjoying a dip in the waters of the Mediterranean!

7. Stroll the avenues of Parc Borély

In the 8th district, the 18-hectare Parc Borély is one of Marseille’s most popular public parks and gardens. Located in the Bonneveine district, it is home to an bastide dating back to the 18th century, sublimated by a French-style garden and a landscaped 19th-century park. Labelled a “remarkable garden”, the park is a delight for joggers and walkers who enjoy strolling along its shady paths between the rose garden beds or discovering rare species in the botanical garden. The Japanese garden, created as part of the 50th anniversary of the twinning between Marseille and Kobe, respects ancestral Japanese prescriptions and invites visitors on a journey where serenity and calm are the order of the day. With two playgrounds, the park is also a paradise for children who want to have fun. Owned by the city of Marseille, Château Borély is currently home to the Museum of Decorative Arts, Earthenware and Fashion.. Its style is a precious testimony to 18th-century architecture in Provence.

8. Admire the view of Marseille from Notre-Dame de la Garde

What would Marseille be without its Bonne Mère? Culminating at 154 meters, the basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde welcomes nearly 2 million visitors annually, placing it in first place among the most visited monuments in Marseille. Of Byzantine inspiration, this Romanesque church watches over fishermen, sailors and Marseillais alike, according to tradition. You can reach it by car, on foot or by taking the tourist train from the Vieux-Port. From this must-see spot, you’ll enjoy an exceptional view of the Phocaean city. It’s a must-do activity in the sunshine during your stay in one of France’s top southern destinations.