Founded by the Phoceans back in the year 600 BC, Marseille has always relied heavily on its location on the sea. Indeed, throughout most of its history Marseille has maintained its population and its economy through its reliance on the ocean and its easy accessibility. As the largest port city in the country of France, Marseille is also its second largest city and is a breathtakingly sprawling and intriguing place. Although a huge proportion of Marseille can hardly be considered a major tourist draw, its Vieux Port – which means “Old Port” - more than makes up for the rather mundane nature of many other parts of the city.
Sightseeing & Things To Do
The rich cultural traditions of this long-inhabited port city make it an excellent place to get off the cruise ship and have a look around. In a few short steps, you can be in the Vieux Port where the animated fishermen, scenic buildings and shimmering water will hold your attention rapt. Skip over to one of Marseille’s shopping areas to spend a bit of cash – or sample some mouthwatering bouillabaisse – and you can safely say that you’ve experienced the quintessential visit to Marseille. Although it’s not romantic like Paris, Marseille is well worth a visit and is worth getting to know a little bit.
Since Marseille is so incredibly sprawling, it is important to select a few places to visit when stopping in on a cruise. Fortunately, most of the truly exciting cultural and historical attractions are concentrated within an area that is convenient to where most ships dock. Consider these great options:
If you only get off the ship long enough to visit one spot in Marseille, it absolutely must be the Vieux Port. This well-preserved old port section of the city is a charming way to experience a glimpse into the past of the city. Fisherman sell their goods at rousing auctions here on a regular basis; try to witness this, as it is a truly unforgettable thing. Simply roaming around the port and seeing the sights is a fun way to while away a few hours.
Those who want to get a feel for the sumptuous, scenic surroundings that endear Marseille to so many should walk along La Corniche. This is a walkway – and a road – that goes along the sea and affords delightful views.
Enjoy nice weather when in Marseille by spending a bit of time at this pleasant park that is only 300 meters from the sea. Its neighbor, the Escale Borely, boasts a string of fine restaurants, cafes and bars; stick around for sunset for a real treat.
Marseille is not particularly well known for having great beaches. Many of the local beaches are downright unpleasant, but if you are determined to spend a bit of time at the beach in Marseille your best bet is to choose a spot somewhere between La Madrague harbor and La Point Reye harbor. Those beaches are as scenic as they get in this part of France.
You have a couple of different options when it comes to shopping in Marseille. If you’re looking for high end fashion, make a bee line over to Cours Julien. All along this stretch you will find a plethora of topnotch designer duds. Otherwise, make the rue St-Fereol your shopping headquarters; shops of every imaginable variety can be found here, and you can find anything from kitschy souvenirs to fine china.
Best Souvenir To Bring Back To the Cruise Ship
A classic souvenir to bring home from Marseille is anything that uses the Provencal motif that this seaside city is known for. This motif features faded blues and yellows and is pretty ubiquitous among goods all over town.
Eating – Sample the Local Cuisine
Marseille, like any city in France, prides itself on its impeccable culinary traditions. If you want to taste something that is pure Marseille, though, make it la bouillabaisse. This fish based soup is served with a delectable garlic-saffron sauce and mouth-watering bread. It can be found all over Marseille, so there’s no reason to miss out. That said, you’ll want to select a more upscale place to try it, since it generally isn’t available at low-budget dining establishments. Also, this dish is not strictly a soup – it is an entire meal, and will more than satisfy you.
When, Where, and How
When To Go
During the summer months – especially July and August – Marseille can be uncomfortably hot, humid and muggy. May and June are generally considered to be the optimal months to come to this French seaside city, as humidity is low, the majority of the rainy season has passed and temperatures are moderate.
Where You’re Docked
There are two major cruise terminals for ships to dock at in Marseille. Both of them are north of the Vieux Port, and each is located close enough to make heading over to that popular tourist district a breeze.
Which Cruise Ships Go Here?
Many of the major cruise lines have itineraries that include stops at Marseille. A few of the biggest cruise lines that stop in Marseille are Costa Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Cunard and Royal Caribbean. However, there are many other options available in terms of ships, dates, days in port and at sea when it comes to Marseille.