Marseille

Marseille (Latin: Massilia) is the second most populated city of France (and third urban area) the biggest mediterranean port and the economic center of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. In 2013 the city (with its region) was the European Capital of Culture, a large series of cultural events took place, and several new infrastructures were inaugurated. In 2013 Marseille also hosted the EuroPride.

Understand

Notre Dame de la Garde

Marseille has a complex history. It was founded by the Phoceans (from the Greek city of Phocea) in 600 B.C. and is one of the oldest cities in Europe. The town is a far cry from the Cézanne paintings and Provençal clichés of sleepy villages, "pétanque" players and Marcel Pagnol novels. With around one million inhabitants, Marseille is the second largest city in France in terms of population and the largest in terms of area. Its population is a real melting pot of different cultures. It is also said that there are more Comorian people in Marseille than in Comoros! Indeed, the people of Marseille have varying ethnic backgrounds, with a lot of Italians and Spaniards having immigrated to the area after the Second World War.

For people not afraid to discover a real place with real people, Marseille is the place. From colourful markets (like Noailles market) that will make you feel like you are in Africa, to the Calanques (a natural area of big cliffs falling into the sea - Calanque means fjord), from the Panier area (the oldest place of the town and historically the place where newcomers installed) to the Vieux-Port (old harbor) and the Corniche (a road along the sea) Marseille has definitely a lot to offer.

Forget the Canebière, forget the "savon de Marseille" (Marseille soap), forget the clichés, and just have a ride from l'Estaque to Les Goudes. You will not forget it.

Get in

By plane

Marseille-Provence International Airport (IATA: MRS) is located about 30 km from Marseille. Buses, taxis and now train connect in less than 30 minutes. Shuttle services from other European cities have made more places available from Marseille.

La Navette Aéroport is an easy way to get to Marseille's city center. The shuttle leaves approximately every 15-20 minutes, taking 25 minutes and goes directly to the St. Charles bus/train station where you can take the metro or walk to your hotel. As of February 2016, the price is €8.20 for a one-way or €13.10 for a round-trip.

By train

Marseille has TGV lines to Paris (3 hours) and Lyon (1 hour 45), Nice (2 hours) and to Brussels (5 hours). Also, Eurostar now offers an all year round direct service from London (6½ hours) with up to five weekly departures during summer season and one to two during winter.

For travel from Spain, there an are daily AVE service operated by a joint venture of the French and Spanish railway companies from Barcelona (4 hours), and Madrid (7 hours). Alternatively, there are frequent connections to Cerbère and onwards to Barcelona by means of a series of regional trains.

There is also a daily Thello train to Milan (4h45).

By bus

Eurolines has many connections all over Europe. From Marseille there are at least direct connections to Barcelona, Prague and Tangier.

There is also a Eurolines office on the 3 Allée Léon Gambetta; If you walk down the big stairs on the southside of the station, follow the road until you come to a squarelike intersection. The office is on your left hand.

By car

Marseille is very well connected to most French cities through numerous highways. As always in France those highways are expensive but practical, comfortable and fast. Marseille is around 8 hours from Paris by car, 2 hours from Nice, 1h30 from Montpellier, 4 hours from Toulouse and 3 hours from Lyon. However, be aware that driving in the city centre is a nightmare - park your car somewhere safe and stick to public transport when ever you can.

By boat

Marseille has a big harbour. There are direct daily services to Marseille from Ajaccio, Bastia, Porto Torres, Porto-Vecchio, and Propriano as well as ferries traversing the Mediterranean from Oran and Algiers in Algeria, usually with one or two crossings per week.

There are several piers at the harbour, so it is advisable to check well in advance from which pier you are departing.

By bicycle

If traveling by bicycle, you should arrive early in the day to avoid getting lost in this vast metropolis. Maps from the tourist office focus on the city center, so you should come with your own map to navigate the suburbs. There is a very cheap bike location system (Le vélo), which costs 1 euro for a week's subscription. Each time you hire a bike, the first 30 minutes are free, then each hour costs 1 euro. Note that there is a 150 euros deposit which will be charged if you don't return the bike proper. Univélo Marseille is a mobile app which gives you live bike or bike parking availability in the 100+ bike stations.

Get around

By bus, tramway, subway

Marseille is served by a transit system, the Régie des Transports de Marseille (RTM) comprising 2 subway lines, 2 tram lines and 74 bus lines. If you have any mobility problems, are in a wheel chair or have a child in a push chair, you should be aware that almost every métro station has steps in it somewhere and some will have several flights of stairs - stick to the trams and buses which are a better option.

The tickets for bus/métro can be bought in the cafes, at the subway stations, or on the bus; it is advised to buy a multi journey ticket (carte libertés) at 13 € (10 voyages), which are not sold in the buses. The number of transfers is unlimited (including the return journeys) within the one-hour limit between the first boarding and last transfer on all the network (you must validate with each entry to the bus). The subway actually runs between 5AM and 12:30AM. The tram system operates until 12:30AM 7 days a week. Most bus routes do not operate after 9PM or so, although a limited network of night buses (Fluobus) operates with infrequent service (only about every 45–60 minutes or so) until about 12:30AM or so. Using a taxi is recommended if you need to travel after 9PM

The Pilote website, includes all the bus, tram and metro schedules but is easier to read than the RTM sites. Moreover, this site repeats the schedules of the majority of transport in common runs of the agglomeration (tram, bus interurban, trains regional) and makes it possible to search for journeys in Marseille and the nearby communes.

Airport transfers are available for €8.50 each way to/from Gare St Charles. Tickets may be bought at the cabin between Hall 1 and Hall 3/4 of the main terminal and at a separate kiosk in the new Gare Routière, after Voie N in the Gare St Charles. The bus runs every 20 minutes on 10, 30, and 50 minutes past the hour. The ride is about 30 minutes. The bus says Navette Aeroport Gare St Charles on it. From Gare St Charles, the metro can get you to most hotels.

Metro tickets allow unlimited transfers onto bus or tram within 1 hour of initial use for the base €1.50 fare but does not include re-entry (1 hour limit) to the metro. A daily ticket (carte journée) costs €5.00.

By boat

A Ferry Boat crosses the Old Harbour (Vieux Port). It is a tourist attraction in itself known as the shortest commercial boat ride in Europe. Several other ferries propose connexions with L'Estaque, Les Goudes, La Pointe-Rouge and Le Frioul. They cost 10€ return trip but a 1 week RTM transportation pass (13€) comprises them (except Frioul island) which is very interesting. Also there are several companies proposing boat tours of the Calanque, like mini-cruises.

By car

Avoid taking your car if you possibly can. Marseille, at least the centre, has narrow streets, one-way streets, random lane changes and so on which can drive both locals and non-locals crazy. The local drivers have a well deserved reputation for fearlessness - particularly if they are on two wheels. In addition, Marseille has some of the lowest parking fines in France - parking fines are rarely enforced and consequently you will find cars parked (and sometimes double parked) everywhere.

Due to the new tunnel that is being built to try to alleviate some of Marseille's traffic problems, satellite navigational systems such as the Tom Tom are likely to be out of date and dangerous if followed. For instance, following a Tom Tom in the centre of Marseille could take you across newly installed pedestrian areas or Tram lines. The one-way system has also completely changed.

By taxi

Be careful of rogue taxi drivers. While there aren't many, there are a few and a €20 ride can quickly become a €40 ride. If you think you've been cheated get the taxi driver's number (located in the rear of the car, often on the window) and go to the Tourist's Office at 4, La Canebière (near Le Vieux Port) and speak to a representative, they can and will get your money back if you've been ripped off. They will also get the taxi driver in significant trouble.

By bicycle

Marseille has the excellent le vélo cycle hire scheme in place as well as plenty of cycle paths, this makes it possible to get round the city quickly and very reasonably but be warned that the velo stations lock at midnight so if you don't return your bicycle before then you will need to pay for an extra day. It costs 1 euro for a week's subscription. Each time you hire a bike, the first 30 minutes are free, then each hour costs 1 euro. Note that there is a 150 euros deposit which will be charged if you don't return the bike properly.

See

Vieux Port
Abbey of Saint Victor
La Vieille Charité
Palais Longchamp

Museums and places of interest

Outside of town

Callelongue port

Do

Calanque d'En Vau

You can visit the fabulous restaurants and cafes. You can go and do many adventurous things such as diving and hiring boats! The calanques (fjords) between Marseille and La Ciotat are a very popular sports climbing area. And of course, if the weather is fine, you can simply go to the beach!

Tours

Events

As European Capital of Culture 2013, Marseille is planning great cultural changes and events for the coming years. However, this does mean that many of the museums and galleries are currently closed for refurbishment (in 2012). So far, the main cultural events are:

Beaches

Let's be honest, beaches in Marseille are not always great. More over depending on the weather, they can be rather polluted.

However the small beaches south of the city centre between La Pointe Rouge harbour and La Madrague harbour are cleaner, nicer and usually slightly less crowded.

There are also good sandy beaches at L'Estaque - take bus #35 from Joliette metro/tram stop to the end of the line (20–25 minutes).

Learn

Universities

Marseille is home to many universities and has a reputation for great education. The universities have a wide array of focuses from art to business.

Eat

Unsurprisingly, Marseille's cuisine is focused on fish and seafood. Its two flag-bearing specialities being the famous fish broth "bouillabaisse" and "aïoli", a garlic sauce served with vegetables and dried cod.

La Bouillabaisse de Marseille

La bouillabaisse is an excellent fish-based soup served with la rouille (a garlic-saffron sauce) and bread similar to crostini. In fact, Bouillabaisse is a 2 course meal: first you get soup from the pot, then you get the rest, i.e. fish.

La bouillabaisse cannot be enjoyed on the cheap. If you are invited to the home of someone making bouillabaisse, then you are in the clear. But never eat cheap bouillabaisse at a restaurant unless it's not called bouillabaisse; only eat it at a place where you have to reserve in advance.

Budget

There are lots of Kebab restaurants along the Canebière. Many cheap, authentic couscous eateries are to be found around the Cours Belsunce, where the local Maghrebic immigrants have their lunch.

Mid-range

Many affordable restaurants with sunny terraces are to be found on Cours Julien, a pedestrian-only street near the Canebière and the "Plaine".

Splurge

Drink

In recent years lots of new places have opened in Marseille, at night, three main districts are interesting (besides beaches between april and october where people go and spend the night), the Old Port with lots of bars and pubs (particularly on the southern side and on Cours d'Estienne d'Orves, La Plaine/Cours Julien with numerous alternative and underground bars, and La Joliette/J4 with trendy chic new bars and clubs. However La Friche should not be forgotten, particularly during summer when the very large rooftop hosts dj parties for free every friday and saturday. For events and concert agenda, see La Nuit Magazine or printed paper Ventilo, particularly during summer as lots of music festivals, boat parties (mini-cruises at night with djs in the Calanques for €20-40), rooftop parties and concerts take places.


English/Irish pubs

Arty bars


themes bars

Clubs

Splurge

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Connect

Le Vieux Port has WiFi access, available from many of the bars and restaurants, and in some places in the street (although there are not many places to sit). The ESSID to use is "Marseille sans fil" and the network is not encrypted. When you first connect, your browser will take you to a web page about the service in French: simply click on "Cliquez ici" ("Click here") on that page to use the network freely.

Note WiFi is pronounced wee-fee or wiffy in French - even by English speakers. Asking for Why-Fye will usually be greeted by a blank look.

Stay safe

Since many years, muggings and pickpockets have dramatically decreased in the city center, however, avoid carrying valuables and watch your surroundings, like in most cities. Most of the northern neighbourhoods(quartiers nord), except L'Estaque and Château-Gombert, might be risky and should be avoided by tourists, however there is no logical reason for going there.

The area around Boulevard Michelet teems with prostitutes and should be avoided on soccer nights, as you can meet potentially angry and drunk Olympique de Marseille hooligans.

All that said, overall, the city is fairly safe.

Cope

Religious centers

Christians

View of the Quai Rive Neuve and the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde, Old Port of Marseille, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Southeastern France, Western Europe.

Jewish

Other

Consulates

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, March 28, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.