Marseille in a Day, France

Marseille in one day

It was very fortunate that Air France launched a direct flight from Moscow to Marseille . And the tickets are not expensive. And the plane is A320 new, and they feed and pour in French. The flight leaves from Sheremetyevo, which is a big plus for me: 30 minutes by cab and I’m already there.

Another plus is that the flight leaves in the evening. Four hours of the trip flew by with a good dinner and no less good French wine. And for dessert, two concerts on the iPod: Milen Farmer and Christophe Mae, and here – the plane is landing…

Bouillabaisse in Marseille.

Fish market in Marseille

How to get from the airport to the center of Marseille

The plane landed at 11:45 pm, right on schedule. The time in Marseille is minus 2 hours from Moscow. At 00:05, I was already leaving the airport building. It is very simple: it is the only late flight and there is no queue at passport control. In addition, the plane was 1/5 full.

Get out of the building (it’s Terminal 1) and turn right. Right in front of you will be a bus. It will be standing alone, you can’t go wrong. The ticket costs 8.5 euros.

Fish market in Marseille

It takes 20-25 minutes to get to the city center (train station). From there you can do whatever you want: take a cab, get on a train, or walk as I did.

Where to stay in Marseille

In Marseille, I booked the Escale Oceania Marseille Vieux Port and I can highly recommend it. Especially if you specified when booking that you wanted a view of the old port and a higher floor.

Large rooms, new furniture, view from the window and air…. After the winter and smoky Moscow it is especially felt: the air of freedom, the sea air…

Fish market in Marseille

Safety in Marseille

It was certainly unwise of me to leave the train station and walk towards my hotel. Although according to the map, and I looked the way even at home, it was a 10 minute leisurely walk to the hotel.

Having a wallet in my pants pocket and a camera in my bag, it is unwise to go and shoot a light in the dark near the train station streets. Probably not. But I walked. A couple of cloches sitting on the pavement with a bottle and some snacks on a dirty newspaper, I managed to light a cigarette, though I had to treat the poor guys with cigarettes.

Fish market in Marseille

Having declined the offer to have a drink with them, I went further. I walked with a backpack on my shoulder, a briefcase with a computer and a camera on my stomach. I wore red Clarks shoes and a red Galliano sweater and, of course, I had the attention of the criminal Arab element.

The streets are empty at this time, and it’s just me and a couple of guys trying to ask me something in French, gesticulating vigorously. I have to speak to them through my teeth in Italian…

– Ah, Italiano, – go away, you radish! Apparently something like this was said. And so I made my way to the hotel.

A short, night walk along the promenade – it’s across the street from me and I curl up to sleep: tomorrow I have big plans.

1. To find and try the famous fish soup bouillabaisse from Marseille. 2. To rent a car at one o’clock in the afternoon at the train station 3. Drive through two points on the way to Avignon

Fish market in Marseille

Marseille bouillabaisse soup.

Before my trip, I read reviews of restaurants in Marseille and wrote out for myself two of them that, judging by the reviews and the announcement of the owners themselves – cooked real bouillabaisse.

Here they are from my draft in the Provence itinerary thread: Fon Fon restaurant with a “view” and good reviews of the cuisine : http://www.chez-fonfon.com (140, Vallon des Auffes), also mentions the Michel-Brasserie des Catalans http://restaurant-michel-13.fr.

What to see in Marseille

What is a real bouillabaisse?

For starters, it’s a fisherman’s soup. You can also call it a regular Russian triple soup: first all kinds of trifles are boiled, which even a cat would not eat, then the resulting broth is cooked fish bigger, and so on.

The difference between bouillabaisse and triple soup is in its serving: we serve pieces of baguette, thick garlic sauce and grated cheese together with mustard-colored broth.

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Bouillabaisse in Marseille.

We pour broth into a plate (a pot of broth is served), smear a piece of baguette with garlic sauce rouille, sprinkle with cheese and place it in the plate with the broth. This way, sipping white wine until we cover the entire surface of the broth in the plate with these sandwiches.

The baguette is dry, like croutons. It soaks up the broth.

Once you’ve filled your plate – grab a spoon and shovel the soup-soaked croutons, because you’re about to be served a dish of fish that was cooked in this soup last. And that’s where it all starts, which is why bouillabaisse varies in price from 25 to 125 euros per serving:

Marseille

1. The amount of fish 2. The quality and type of fish or seafood 3. In places where bouillabaisse costs from 60 euros per serving, the fish brought to you is cut up by the waiter. He stands before your eyes and slowly separates the fish fillets from the bones. And in my opinion this is the main advantage of expensive bouillabaisse.

Marseille

Attractions in Marseille

But back to the fact that I had a good night’s sleep, taking advantage of the 3-hour difference with Moscow. I had a French breakfast: coffee, croissant and a little of this and a little of that from a tray.

On the quay in front of the hotel by this time there was a brisk trade in live goods: what kind of fish you would not see here. Just off the hook/from the net. Still beating in convulsions anticipating its soon transformation into bouillabaisse…

Marseille

Bargaining at the market is possible and necessary. Housewives of Marseille choose fish meticulously, discuss something with the seller, sometimes go away and then come back and knock down the price. A market is a market.

Well, I put the address of Von Von restaurant on my map and walk around the bay of the old port in the direction of the market. On the way, I stop, looking at the sailboats in the marina. Just a forest of masts.

One of Marseille’s landmarks is the island of If, home to the castle of the same name. Which was described in Dumas’ novel “The Count of Monte Cristo”. Go there? What for? It was not in my plans.

“The popularity of Château d’If is exceptionally high thanks to two prisoners: the Iron Mask, who was never there, and Edmond Dantes, who never existed.

But it was across from this island that there was the restaurant where I was going to have lunch. And it just so happened that I hadn’t specified what time the restaurants in Marseille opened.

They open at 1:30. I had to pick up my car at 1 p.m., and before that I had to vacate my hotel room. So, alas, I didn’t have lunch at Von Fon. But looked at the castle…from the shore.

Marseille

Marseille reviews

The city is amazing with its clumsiness: old mansions coexist with new construction in the worst soul of Biriulevo – panel blocks, some houses are attached to the hills surrounding the harbor like swallow’s nests.

It is very difficult to navigate in parts of the city that are located closer to the sea – some streets are twisted crazy spiral. In these cases, the Internet and the map on the phone helps.

Marseille bouillabaisse

But at the same time the city lives a simple life, without ponces and expensive limousines. Subway, streetcars, pedestrians on the streets, beach volleyball on the beach, fishing in the harbor….

It’s all very human. It’s just… I liked the city, although I’ve only been there for a little while.

What to see in Marseille in one day without a guide

What to see in Marseille in a day or two, and get a complete impression of the city. Marseille is one of the oldest cities in France and the entire Mediterranean. The history of the city goes back centuries, long before our era. There is even a museum of Roman docks, wharf where Roman ships entered.

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We will not go deeper into history in this article, there are museums for that, and plenty of them in Marseille. I will tell you about my personal tourist experience, how to save time and try to grasp the immensity in one day. However, it is not possible to cover all the attractions of Marseille in one day. If you don’t know where to start looking, take a City Pass!

What to see in Marseille in 1 day with the map of City Pass

What to see in Marseille

A telescope on the observation deck of Notre Dame de la Garde. It offers a beautiful view of the city.

To start your sightseeing in Marseille, you should take a walk along the main street. The main street of Marseille, La Canebière leads to the old port, and where the port, there is a buzz of life: business, cultural, commercial, criminal, tourist. The people of Marseille are proud of the main street, considering it the local Champs-Elysées.

To feel the color of the city just walk along La Canebiere. The slightest turn, you will find yourself in a maze of narrow streets, and it is already unclear where you are. Is it still France or are you in a bazaar in Tunisia, Algeria or Morocco? If you only have a day, start your walk around the city with a visit to the Tourist Office.

L`Office de Tourisme (Tourist Office) is located at La Canebiere 11 (on the left side, if you walk from the sea). Guests are greeted here by friendly managers and tourists are always welcome! At the desks there is information in several languages, including Russian. Stock up on maps, guides, buy souvenirs.

It does not matter if you do not know French, spoken English is very useful. In addition to the travel card you will be given a free map of the city, you can learn about all the activities and events, arrange a guide, book a tour, that is, gather information.

What you can get in the tourism office to choose and wish depends on the budget:

  • Ten guided walking tours (English, French)
  • Thirteen sightseeing tours in and around the city
  • Buy City Pass
  • Free tourist map of the city
  • Informational support

www.marseille-tourisme.com – official website of the tourism office to help

www. tourisme-marsielle.com – A blog for exploring Marseille. A sea of historical information.

В туристическом офисе продают сувениры, в том числе оливковое марсельское мыло. Если у вас не будет времени на экскурсию по мыльному заводу или в музей мыла, то это шанс приобрести настоящее марсельское мыло. (Сейчас жалею, что сразу не обратила внимания на сувениры, потом уже не было времени искать подарки.) Что такое настоящее марсельское мыло и как его выбрать читайте по ссылке>> This is a souvenir of Must Have.

It’s worth telling you more about the city-pass card. To facilitate the hard life of the tourist, the city issues a special plastic card Marseille City Pass. Buying a card, you get a lot of advantages, save money and time. The card is valid for 24, 48, and 72 hours. That is, you can plan to get acquainted with Marseille for one, two or three days. For one day, the cost of the card is 26 euros.

Marseille city pass map

City Pass card makes life easier for tourists and helps save time and money

The benefits of the City Pass card

  • Free travel by metro, bus, streetcar
  • Free ticket to some museums in the city (not all, please check)
  • Walking tours of the city in French or English
  • A visit to the famous Chateau d’If (if you are lucky, as the fortress is often closed due to constant reconstructions) in the tourist season or other islands of your choice
  • City tour on a funny little steam train through historical places.
  • Discounts at some stores, museums and events

By the way, the card can be purchased not only in the office, but also in places where the logo is marked with the letter M ( subway, airport, train station). On the map of the city center is worth a closer look.

The sights of Marseille in a day

tourist map of marseille

Red, yellow, green and blue routes through the landmarks of Marseille city center

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Especially for tourists, four routes marked with different colors have been developed: Red, Green, Yellow and Blue. You can follow each of them right from the doors of the tourist office. The red route takes you from the old port through the old quarter of Pannier, past the church of St. Lawrence, to the modern MuCEM exhibition center and the cathedral.

The blue route starts from the office doors to the old port, along the waterfront, the port docks and ends with the FRAC (Regional Foundation for Contemporary Art) building. The green route welcomes you to Notre Dame de la Garde. The cathedral towers over the city, and the gilded figure of the Virgin Mary with a baby in her arms guards the faithful and the city. Admission to the cathedral and guided tours are free. However, tours must be pre-booked.

The yellow route slightly duplicates the red one, passing through the streets of the old city. The first time you can get confused. The distances are not small, to pass all on foot in one day is unreal! Here to help will come Marseille City Pass, travel card, which you wisely bought in advance in the tourist office. The buses run well, and a couple of stops, using the card is advantageous. You should just attach it at the entrance to the scanner. Otherwise, one bus ride costs two euros.

Panoramic Tour double-decker bus tour of the city

An alternative option to wandering around the city on your own, is to tour the sights of Marseille on the ColorBus Marseille double-decker bus. The first stop is on the promenade near City Hall, a brightly colored double-decker bus with tourists immediately attracts attention. Again, the City Pass card will help save time and money. Tourists with a card boarding the bus for free, if no card, the price per adult is 19 euros per season.

Ticket City Pass allows you to freely move around historical sites. Tourists are free to get off and on the bus at any of the 14 stops if they wish. This allows you to independently determine the rhythm and time of sightseeing. At the entrance, everyone is given an individual audio guide. Information is available in 8 languages, including Russian. If you do not get off at stops, the duration of the tour is about 1.5 hours. Buses run on a schedule. You can get information from the tourism office, too. This is a good idea, as walking around all the significant places is simply unreal, especially in the heat.

Fourteen stops on the COLORBUS Marseille tourist bus

VieuxPort Mairie – Old Port Mairie

marseille old harbor

View of the old port of Marseille from the observation deck of Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica

La Criee – The National Theater of Marseille. It is located on the promenade opposite the City Hall. You do not need to get off the bus.

Pharo St Nicolas – Fort St. Nicolas was built by order of King Louis IV. Stunning view of the surrounding area.

entrance to the old port

Fortress of St. Nicolas (in the distance) and Fort St. Jean securely protected the entrance to the harbor

Catalans – A small beach in the city center. Popular with locals. If you need to swim urgently, you are here. A lot of people and not a lot of space on the beach.

city beach

Even in March on the town beach there are lovers of water procedures

Vallon des Auffes is a small cove with many moored boats. To feel the spirit of a seaside town, to have a bite to eat, to hang out among the old houses, to take pictures.

Oriol-Corniche – A long promenade with a beautiful view of the sea. A favorite place for jogging and watching the sunset.

promenade

There are spectacular views of the sea from the promenade

Notre Dame de la Garde, Marseille’s main cathedral, is located on the highest point of the city. There are panoramic views of the port and the islands. Worth a visit.

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The Abbaye Saint Victor is an ancient abbey for lovers of the past. The abbey was founded in the 5th century and is a historical monument of France. Romanesque and Gothic architecture, the spirit of antiquity and cool inside.

Cours Estienne d`Orves is a square in the old port area. Attractions – lots of tourist restaurants with high price tags. Nothing special.

Vieux Port-Canabiere – City center and starting point for boat tours. Start of Marseille’s main street and fish market in the morning.

Capitainerie – A stop on the waterfront in the port area. A place for walks.

La Major-Le Panier -Cathedral and Panier, the old quarter where Marseille began

Marseille Cathedral

Marseille Cathedral and the deserted promenade in March

Joliette – Marseille’s district at the beginning of the port

MuCem-St Jean – Medieval Fort St. Jean and the Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean. After the rich museums of Paris, the exhibition was not very impressive. You can get by with a cursory look around. Much more interesting is a walk in the open air. Amazing blend of medieval architecture and modern buildings. A wonderful place for photo sessions.

Marseille in March

It is better to see once than to hear a hundred times. See a little photo report about a day trip to Marseille. It was in March, the temperature was around 13-15 degrees with a strong wind and cloudy weather. The cold wind literally blew the few tourists off the promenade of the old port. March, the time of year free of tourists. The best period to visit museums, cathedrals and parks. Cafes and restaurants are always free, but swimming and boating are not. No queues for ice cream, too.

The old port of Marseille

tourists in Marseille's old harbor

In March, there aren’t many tourists in the old port. Every morning there is a fish market.

The old port, is the heart of the city. On either side of the entrance to the old port are two fortresses. Medieval Fort St. Jean and Fortress of St. Nicholas. The port area is always full of all sorts of people: gawkers, tourists, local freaks and crooks. Tourists should keep their eyes and hands in their pockets. A port is a port. Every tourist arriving in Marseille, be sure to walk along the promenade and visit the old port. Here, as in one point, all the urban and tourist routes converge.

The fish market makes a strong impression. Every morning the sailors put the night’s catch on trays for sale right in the central point of the port. Everything that was caught in the nets at night is placed on the trays. Fish of all kinds, squid, octopus, lobsters and other sea creatures. A stray thought popped into my head. That would rent an apartment here and go every morning to buy fresh fish or octopus, cook for lunch with a side dish of fresh vegetables. Now that’s a healthy diet! There are seafood restaurants along the Canebrier, and marine life is laid out for sale. You can choose and you will be cooked right there seafood delicacies. The gifts of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a shame you can’t make it in one day, and it costs “not for nothing”.

Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica

Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica

Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica with a gilded figure of the Virgin Mary overlooking Marseille

The cathedral is located on the highest peak. It must be said that Marseille is located on a hilly terrain, now a steep descent, now a high rise. The streets are narrow and it is difficult for the cars to separate. One has to wonder how a big bus can pass on the narrow winding streets. From the observation deck you have a stunning view of the city and its surroundings.

The Velodrome stadium, the sports base of Marseille’s Olympique soccer club, is clearly visible. (In the tourist office you can order a tour of the Velodrome). Through the telescope you can clearly see the island of Yves and its fortress. Marseille appears as in the palm of your hand. On the walls of the cathedral you can see traces of shelling from World War II. It is a miracle that the cathedral itself was not damaged. There is a lot of information about the basilica on the internet, and it is definitely worth a visit.

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Medieval Fort St. Jean and MuCem

Marseille sights

In March, the weather can be unlucky, but there are no tourists.

After a visit to Notre Dame de la Garde, this is the second must-see place. The old buildings from the time of Louis IV are organically combined with modern architecture. It is a trademark of the city that defines its personality. The great impression is made by the terrace with openwork wall overlooking the sea. You can lie on a lounge chair, to bask in the shade. But usually all the seats are occupied. But in March there are not so many tourists. The entrance to MuCem on the card City Pass is free. You have to show the card and get a free ticket. Nearby is the Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean (entrance fee). A beautiful view opens from the Ferris wheel, the city as in the palm of your hand.

Streetcar rides in Marseille

For a full experience it’s worth taking a ride on the Marseille streetcar. With the City Pass card the pleasure is free. You can get on and off at every stop. The streetcar is modern and comfortable. The transport scheme is not confusing and the map is easy to figure out.

The day flew by like a blink of an eye. You are full of impressions, tired and it’s time to sit in a cafe with a view of the old port. Keep in mind, the prices are for tourists and a plate of soup bouillabaisse (traditional fish soup, the food of sailors and locals) will cost 30 euros. Next to the French cafes nestled McDonald’s (the salvation of starving tourists in France), Arab kebabs, where prices bite not so bad.

At the end of the day you can afford a shot of pastis. The people of Marseille consider pastis, along with Marseille soap, their symbol and are proud of the strong drink. In fact, it is aniseed vodka, but they drink it diluted with water. Somewhat unaccustomed, diluted pastis resembles aniseed cough drops.

What to see and do in a day in Marseille

  • Walk down the Canabiere, Marseille’s main street.
  • Stop by the Tourist Office
  • Take the double-decker bus to some of the most famous landmarks.
  • Or take the bus from the old port to Notre Dame de la Garde.
  • Wander the streets of the historic quarter of Pannier
  • Stroll along the boardwalk
  • Swim in Catalan beach
  • Visit Saint Victor Abbey
  • Marvel at night fishing in the old harbor
  • Take a ride on the Ferris wheel
  • Visit the MuCem and the Mediterranean Museum, the Cathedral
  • Sit in a café and plan for tomorrow.

The sights of Marseille do not end there. The city has a large number of museums, museum parks, historical buildings and monasteries. The most famous and popular are the Museum of Fine Arts in the Palais de Lonçon and the Borely Museum. But all this variety can not fit in one day.

But there are places where tourists should not be shown. First of all, the northern neighborhoods of Marseille, where there is often shooting and local strife. And on the streets, there are military patrols in full riot gear. Marseille is considered the most insecure city in France. According to statistics of the 850 thousand inhabitants, 220 thousand are Muslims, natives of Africa and the Middle East (according to unofficial statistics about 40%).

In Marseille and about Marseille were made several films, the most famous among the younger generation is Taxi. But the best film is still Borsalino (Borsalino was filmed in 1970) and Borsalino and K 1974. The films capture the spirit of the port city as accurately as possible. Rampant mafia in the 30s of the 20th century, local girls of easy virtue and a division of the criminal market. Young Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo as tough mobsters. Watch an excerpt with the recognizable soundtrack.

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