A family day in Marseille

You have a day in Marseille with your family and you want to optimise your time? Here is a typical day that we have tested for you and that will help you discover the essential of the city with your children while having fun!

Virginie Verdi
  • Marseille in 3 words

    Solar, contradictory, bubbling.

A morning around the Old Port

Fish market

Our escapade in the Phocaean city starts at the Vieux Port, the nerve centre of the city.
To get us in the mood, we start our visit on the famous fish market with its colourful stalls, it’s the occasion to make the children discover the Mediterranean fishes and to talk to them about the unavoidable Bouillabaisse, this dish precious to the inhabitants of Marseille, that we won’t taste today, too bad, the time doesn’t allow it.
Just before going along the Quai Rive Neuve towards the Ferry-Boat pier, we take the time to play with our reflections under the Ombrière while posing. On the way, we take the opportunity to admire the famous Marseilles barquettes (traditional fishing boats), and then we go on board for the shortest cruise in the world (about 4 minutes) to the other side, “Le Quai du Port”.

A little tour of the old town

When we get off the boat, we are in front of the imposing Hôtel de Ville (town hall), and we start our walk in the Quartier du Panier, the historic district of Marseille. We follow the orange (almost red) circuit drawn on the city map provided by the Tourist Office. This itinerary guides us for 2 hours, through the narrow streets of the old town, passing by the places and monuments that cannot be ignored and the narrow streets that are so typical of this district.

Halfway through the tour, we enter the centre of the Vieille Charité and visit the MAAOA with its treasures (museum of African, Oceanian and Amerindian art). We then continue towards the Cathedral of La Major and the esplanade of the Mucem (museum of the civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean) and the Villa Méditerranée, which hosts a perfect replica of the Grotte Cosquer (prehistoric cave discovered in the Calanques), a jewel of prehistory.
For the moment, we take some pictures of these architectural feats and then, push the doors of the Mucem to go on the roof terrace, we cross the passerelle and arrive in the “garden of the migrations” of the Fort Saint Jean where we settle down for our picnic, the children take advantage of it to play, we have the impression to be out of time! We won’t have time to visit the museum today.

After visiting the fortress which is freely accessible, we leave by the passerelle and arrive on the square of the Saint Laurent Church which offers us an amazing view on the Old Port andNotre-Dame de la Garde. Then we went to the Place de Lenche, where we tasted the famous ice creams of the Glacier du Roi (a Marseilles institution) and bought some navettes (Marseilles biscuits with orange blossom) at the Navettes de Accoules.

An afternoon between a castle and a football!

The famous “Bonne Mère”!

We then move to the Quai du Port to take a seat on the little tourist train of Notre-Dame de La Garde. The little train goes along the Old Port and then the Corniche Kennedy, from where we have a wonderful view of the harbour of Marseille and the islands of Frioul and Château d’if, the little train then starts its ascent towards the “Bonne Mère”, the children are delighted!

On arrival, we get off the train and make some effort to climb the stairs that separate us from the Basilica square, the children have counted, there are 40 steps … more or less!
A small effort that is really worth it, from here the view is breathtaking! A 360° view on the city, we take the time to observe and we have fun to find the monuments and places we know. Then we pass through the doors of this sanctuary. Beyond the stained glass windows, statues and other religious objects, we detail the ex-votos which are suspended from the vault, explaining to the children what they represent, they are offerings made by the people of Marseille in thanks for a granted grace. On leaving the Basilica, we could clearly see the islands of Marseille and we unanimously decided to go there, so we set off for the Chateau d’If.

On the way to the If Castle

So here we are again, at the starting point, on the Vieux-Port. We buy our tickets for the ferry and we are already at sea in the direction of If Island. The children, equipped with their booklet, downloaded during the ferry, take part in the game and discover the history of this mysterious place while having fun. We had a very pleasant time and the view over Marseille was surprising.
Back on the Vieux-Port, my children insist on visiting the famous Velodrome stadium, I am quickly taken back by my children, it is now the Orange Velodrome! The end of the afternoon is approaching and I’m afraid it’s too late, my son pulls out his mobile phone and tells me that we still have 2 hours to go! We give in! We are in Marseille, we can’t visit the city without seeing this famous stadium, temple of OM the Marseille football team!

The Orange Velodrome

We rush into the metro, direction Rond-Point du Prado, 20 minutes later we are in front of the stadium! Impressive! Fortunately we bought our tickets online, so we can go directly to the visit. Here there is no guide, you do the visit at your own rhythm. We discover with enthusiasm the backstage of the stadium, this free tour allows us to stop in the changing rooms, my children’s eyes are full of stars and photos and selfies are flying! The apotheosis of the visit comes when we enter the field, or rather the edge of the field! A visit that ends our beautiful day in beauty!

It’s already time to go back home, we keep an excellent memory of this day in Marseille. The children are smiling and have really enjoyed all these activities, we will definitely do it again, there are so many other things to discover!

Did you know?

The golden Virgin who watches over Marseille is covered with gold leaf, she has to be completely redecorated every thirty years or so, she was last restored in 1989, it should not be long before she is adorned with a new golden dress!