Going to the second biggest city in France, I expected many similarities to Paris, and I was a bit afraid I won’t like it. Don’t understand me wrong, I love Paris but planning holidays in the Mediterranean coastline meant I want something different than what the capital is representing. I must say, I didn’t get disappointed at all.
I came to Marseille by car which had one big advantage – I could easily and fast go outside the city to visit small villages around. Since I live in Paris and there is 3 months railway strike, I decided to drive all the way from home – 800 km. Normally it should not take more than 8 hours but I was not the only one scared to take a TGV during this period so the roads were full and my travel took 12 hours. It was not that bad though if you prepare good for such trip, it feels much shorter!
When I just entered the city on Saturday late afternoon, I already knew I would like this metropolis! Directly from the highway, we drove next to the seaside when a big sign MARSEILLE showed up in the hill, just like the HOLYWOOD one! After few minutes we entered to the Old Port, the center of the city, with a splendid view into Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde. It was totally worth the 12 hours drive!
I stayed in Airbnb apartment (the platform where people rent their houses for few nights) on the hill, near this famous Basilique (10 min walking). The flat was quite big, the area was nice and a free parking was not far so nothing to complain about. We spent the evening near the Old Port, looking for a perfect restaurant which was a big challenge. There are many pizza and burger places. Actually, pizza is very popular in Marseille due to influences from Naples from the beginning of XX century and it’s really tasty. I preferred to try something more traditional but finally, I ate pizza few times during my stay there, even though I am not a big fan of pizza…
Before my trip, I checked which places are the best to visit but every day, while checking information about the city, I bumped into some new monument or view I couldn’t miss. The first day in the south of France we spent exploring the beaches in the capital of Provence and cities around Marseille. We visited la Plage de Prado and la Plage de Bonneveine from where there is an amazing view of the Pointe Rouge village and beach. You can have a long walk there, next t the seaside and enjoy the view or jump into your swimsuit and swim 🙂 After the lunch near Le Vieux Port, where we tried les calamars, typical seafood in the Mediterranean area, we hit the road to northern part of the Marseille coastline and visited L’Estaque, Le Rove, La Beaumaderie and Saint Croix – beautiful small villages.
In L’Estaque we saw many people resting near the beach with their families, Le Rove, especially arches with a splendid view into Marseille, was full of people making barbecues. Unfortunately, the atmosphere there was not nice. Despite the amazing panorama, the area was full of garbage and smelling food so we didn’t spend much time there. It is definitely one of the favorite places of people from Marseille. If you come on another day than Sunday, maybe you be more lucky to feel good and to be able to spend more time there. After that, we visited La Plage de Saint-Croix near La Beaumaderie. More detailed information about these places you will find soon in a separate post.
The second day of our stay, we planned a trip to Cassis, a small town compared to Saint Tropez, which is considered as the end of Cote d’Azur. The center of this village is colorful, with many small boats in the port and cute restaurants with the view into the sea. There is also a very beautiful beach where we spend the morning. Choosing a restaurant to have lunch was a difficult choice, many places offer fresh fishes and seafood but French people eat déjeuner only between 12 – 2 pm so the tables are very limited. Also, I must say that the prices were not cheap – a menu normally coasts more than 20 €. We chose a restaurant famous for its mules in different sauces. Right after the lunch, we took a road into another close town, La Ciotat. However, I saw on Instagram great pictures made from the road Route des Cretes La Ciotat Cassis so we took this road, a bit longer one but totally worth it. That day we still visited La Ciotat and I liked this place much more than Cassis. Both are very nice but La Ciotat is bigger, less crowded, much cheaper and… more beautiful.
The third day, we climbed into Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde. We visited it inside but the most amazing was the panorama of whole Marseille. You can also go there by car during the day and the night or by bus during the day so if you don’t like walking too much it can be a good solution. After taking hundreds of pictures, we spent the afternoon on the beach called Plage du Prophete. This beach is surrounded by the walls of the Corniche Keneddystreet, a long, famous road of Marseille close to the sea, so despite the wind, it was a good place for swimming and snorkeling.
The fourth day of our stay in Marseille, in the morning we went to the Old Port to buy some fishes and see the surroundings of the center of the city during the day. We had coffee with navette, small traditional cookies of Marseille between the building of La Bourse and close to Opera. In this place General the Gaulle, I found a small market with original soap from Marseille. In the afternoon, we visited Park Borely, the beach of Pointe Rouge that we saw before from far and a viewpoint called Pointe Cadiere.
The next day we spent mostly on the beach Pointe Rouge. I actually wanted to go to National Park of Calanques but to do that you need to park a car at least one hour from one of the Calanques and walk through mountains. I think it’s totally worth going there but with my recent knee injury, I had to skip it. In the afternoon, we visited Palais Longchamps on the other side of the city.
Our last day, we decided to take a cruise to see the calanques since I was not able to walk there. There are few companies organizing the trip and different departure hours as well as the time you spend on the boat. We choose to go in the morning for a 2,15 hours cruise. The calanques are narrow, steep-walled inlet that is developed near the sea.
All afternoon we spent near the seaside next to Cathédrale de La Major. You can take there a long walk in Quai de la Tourette and Promenade Robert Laffont to see Fort Saint-Jean, Palais de Pharo, and Mucem, a Museum of Europe and the Mediterranean Civilizations.
During the whole week in Marseille, you can really see many monuments and amazing spots and also have enough time to spend on the beach. First of all, you can be sightseeing places while choosing a different beach every day. Also in the evenings or afternoons, you can go to new zones of the city. There are many beautiful places I have seen around Marseille and in the city itself and for sure many that I missed. Of course, the choice is yours. The Chateau D’If, a castle known as Monte Cristo from Alexandre Dumas book which you can visit by boat. You can see the MUCEUM inside as well as Palais de Pharo. There are also many other interesting villages around the city but the decision is always yours. I do not regret my choices about visiting any of the places because each of them is unique and has its own charm, just like all south of France.