Marseille Holidays

A sunny city with a bit of swagger

Known to the Greeks and Romans as Massalia, the thriving port town of Marseille has come a long way from its ancient roots, and is now renowned as one of the most lively, culturally diverse and cutting-edge cities not only in France but also in Europe. All of this combines to make a Marseille holiday an exciting prospect for every type of traveller. France’s second-largest city and an important southern-trading gateway, Marseille is a melting pot of cultures thanks to large waves of immigration from Italy and Greece in the 19th century and former French colonies, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, in the 20th century. All these influences have given it a unique culture and cuisine.

While profoundly French in many ways – it’s the home of France’s anthem, ‘La Marseillaise’ – the city is also renowned for its alternative outlook, as famous now for hip-hop acts and Le Corbusier architecture as it is stunning beaches and fantastic seafood. There’s also plenty of sightseeing to do, with a wealth of museums and galleries, the historic Vieux Port, various forts, offshore islands, a famous basilica and a cathedral. Previously both the European Capital of Culture and the European Capital of Sport, holidays to Marseille will introduce you to a dynamic, ever-changing city that has a certain unique ‘je ne sais quoi’.

All resorts in Marseille

Three tips for a top trip

Pick a money-saving pass
Visitors can buy a 24-, 48- or 72-hour Marseille Pass to gain access to public transport, several museums and activities, and enjoy discounts in certain shops.
Head to the beach
Beaches in Marseille are a mix of rock, sand and shingle, giving you plenty of options. However, be aware that car access is sometimes restricted during the spring and summer seasons.
Hop to the islands
For a day out on the water and some spectacular scenery, take the Frioul If express boat to the Frioul Archipelago – a group of four scenic islands, one of which is the site of the Château d’If.

Best attractions to see in Marseille

Galleries galore

Marseille is famous for its art galleries, including the sprawling Musée d’Art Contemporain (MAC), Galerie Detaille and Musée Cantini, with many more cultural spaces around the city.

Notre-Dame de la Garde

The city’s most symbolic building attracts huge numbers of pilgrims each year thanks to its religious significance, but also its stunning panoramic views of Marseille.

Massif des Calanques

A 20-kilometre stretch of white cliffs and bays between Marseille and Cassis makes for an excellent day trip for nature lovers. Consider hiring a car and plan your route in advance.

Your Marseille questions, answered

The city has a Mediterranean climate, with humid winters and hot, dry summers, and is officially the sunniest major city in France thanks to the mistral – a powerful wind that generally keeps the sky clear.

As a gateway port city, Marseille has a strong emphasis on seafood cuisine, and is the home of ‘bouillabaisse’ (a hearty fish stew), as well as other great dishes.

‘Savon de Marseille’ is the region’s classic soap, which comes in funky, colourful blocks. And if soap’s not for you, try a bottle of locally brewed pastis.