Entrée du Vieux-Port, vue sur le Mucem et le Fort St Jean

Top 10 must‑see places in Marseille

Whether you are stopping over for a few hours or staying for a few days, discover different itineraries adapted to your customers!

Notre-Dame de la Garde

The best way to get to know Marseille and its surroundings is to climb to the top of the hill where the Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde is located. Since the Middle Ages, this religious edifice, also called “the Good Mother”, is considered as the guardian of sailors and fishermen. A symbol of Marseille, the site attracts more than 1.8 million visitors every year. From the top of its 154 metres, the Garde hill offers an unobstructed 360° view of Marseille, an almost aerial panorama to locate the different districts of the city, from the Côte Bleue to the Calanques. A small tourist train takes you up to the basilica from the Vieux-Port.

The Old Port

The Greek city of Massalia was born of the mythical marriage of Gyptis, a native princess, and Protis, a navigator from Phocaea in Asia Minor. Together, they created a Greek trading post on the banks of the Lacydon (now the Old Port). The Old Port is the prestigious theatre where the history of Marseille is played out. It was here that the ancient Greek colony Massalia was born, which later became the Roman Massilia, and around the Old Port that the medieval Marsiho was built. From then on, the entrance to the port was guarded by two forts, Fort Saint-Nicolas and Fort Saint-Jean. Renovated in 2013, the year of Marseille’s European Capital of Culture (reduced traffic, redevelopment and creation of a shaded area by Norman Foster), the Old Port remains today the nerve centre of Marseille with its daily fish market, its ferryboat linking the two quays, its cafés, hotels, restaurants, its boat departures to the Calanques National Park or the Château d’If and its lively nightlife.

The Panier district

The Panier is the oldest district in France. 600 years before Jesus Christ, Massalia was born in the place of the current Panier. If the Greeks chose this place, it is for its privileged position in height and close to the sea. This historic district has a great charm with its narrow streets, its many craftsmen, its monuments such as the Vieille Charité which houses the Museum of African, Oceanian and Amerindian Arts (M.A.A.O.A) and the Museum of Mediterranean Archaeology. The bohemian atmosphere of the district reveals an art of living à la marseillaise where it is good to stroll according to your desires.

The Mucem and the Cosquer Cave

The heart of the Mucem (National Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations), built on the former J4 port mole, is a modern architectural structure designed by the architect Rudy Ricciotti in association with Roland Carta. The 15,000 m2 building houses two exhibition areas: the Galerie de la Méditerranée, dedicated to the discovery of the major stages of Mediterranean civilisations, and a space reserved for temporary exhibitions. The Mucem also houses a 355-seat auditorium, a space for the projection of audiovisual documents (“la Médinathèque”, in collaboration with the INA), a space dedicated to children (“l’Odyssée des enfants”), a bookstore-boutique, as well as “Le Môle Passédat” and “La Cuisine”, the restaurants of the famous 3-star chef Gérald Passédat, with a panoramic terrace.

The Cosquer Cave, restored in the Villa Méditerranée building in Marseille, finally reveals its secrets buried for 30,000 years under 37 metres of water. The Cosquer Méditerranée adventure unfolds on three levels with the prehistoric cave under the sea to be discovered on 1750m2 … Get on board autonomous modules and let yourself be guided for 35 minutes of exploration. Also visit the Mediterranean Gallery to discover life-size reproductions of the animal species that made up the wild fauna of the creeks during the ice age, the reconstruction of a pregnant Sapiens woman as well as digital and audiovisual projections on history, the rise of the waters and the climate.

The Calanques National Park

This limestone massif to the south of the city was classified as a National Park in 2012 and thus became Europe’s first peri-urban park, stretching over 20 km of coastline. The wooded massifs of maritime pines and aromatic plants and the turquoise waters of the Calanques National Park offer an ideal playground for lovers of walking, diving, climbing or heritage. The park is accessible by bus, car or boat to admire the Calanques and their cliffs from the sea, a unique experience! To discover the Calanques in the heart of the Park, you will need to put on your walking shoes and take the many hiking trails.

The Château d’If

Marseille has some superb examples of military architecture, such as the Château d’If, built by order of King François I between 1527 and 1529. Off the coast of Marseille, the fortress, with its medieval curves, has essentially served as a state prison during its 400 years of official use. Made famous by Alexandre Dumas’ novel, the Count of Monte Cristo, the castle, a listed historical monument, is a must-see site to visit, just 20 minutes by boat from the Vieux Port.

The Longchamp Palace

A hymn to the glory of water, this monumental water palace-castle is closely linked to the construction of the Durance canal. It celebrates the arrival of water in Marseille and is one of the finest achievements of Second Empire architecture in the city. In the left wing of the building, you will find the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which currently holds paintings, drawings and sculptures dating from the 17th to the 19th century. It is currently considered to be the oldest museum in Marseille, having been created in 1802. In the right wing of the palace, the Natural History Museum houses several collections of curiosity cabinets dating from the 18th century. Behind the palace, the pleasure garden, which is very popular with the inhabitants of Marseille, houses an astronomical observatory open to the public.

La Cité Radieuse, Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier, an architect of avant-garde genius, built the “Cité Radieuse” after the war between 1947 and 1951. It is a vertical city of raw concrete, stilts and polychrome loggias, offering 337 magnificent flats, a hotel, a restaurant, a school, shops, an art and design centre and a panoramic roof terrace. Long reviled, the place is now a reference for artists and architecture lovers from all over the world. Since 2016, the Cité Radieuse has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Marseille Metropolitan Tourist and Convention Bureau manages the tours of the site exclusively and also offers a tour of a listed historic flat. 

The Corniche and the beaches

With 300 days of sunshine a year and 57 km of coastline on the Mediterranean, Marseille offers an ideal climate for those who enjoy swimming, walking, water sports or just relaxing. The city has 21 beaches, ranging from small white sandy beaches to the large beaches of Prado, as well as small, more intimate coves closer to the Calanques National Park. You can also admire the big blue by taking the Corniche Kennedy, a road which overhangs the sea and thus discover the longest bank of the world which extends on 3 km! The Corniche also has a beautiful cycle path from the city centre to the Prado beaches.

The Orange Velodrome

The Orange Velodrome stadium is one of the most famous sports venues in the world. It is the second largest stadium in France, after the Stade de France. Its renovation in 2014 increased its capacity to 67,000 seats, and in addition to covering all the stands, the modernisation project has allowed the emergence of a new centre of attraction: Le Prado shopping centre, 4* Marriott Hotel, restaurants…

The OM tour allows you to visit the stadium freely through a free route with many anecdotes, access to the changing room, the edge of the pitch and many exclusive places!

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