Marseille, the second most populous city in France, is a beautiful port city with something for everyone, and many travelers classify it as a must-visit spot while in France. If these bold recommendations are anything to go by, Marseille must have numerous attractions that endear one and all to it.
The main reason Marseille is worth visiting is its warm, temperate climate. Since it receives sunshine nearly all year round, can enjoy its gorgeous coastline, breathtaking locations, and delectable dishes for as long as they like.
In this article, I’ll highlight four reasons you should add Marseille to your list of dream travel destinations. Let’s get right into it!
Reasons Why Marseille Is Worth Visiting
Marseille has a population of less than one million but receives around five million tourists yearly. Whether due to the appeal of its multicultural vibe or its status as France’s oldest city, the place is a magnet. Here are some of the reasons why.
1. Warm, Pleasant Weather
Marseille enjoys a temperate climate with short, warm, and clear summers. The temperatures range from 39°F to 84°F (3.9°C to 28.9°C) and rarely go below 30°F (-1.1°C) or above 90℉ (32°C).
Predictably, this pleasant weather attracts many tourists to the region during the summer months. If you’re bothered by the droves of tourists and hot temperatures in summer, you can still experience some of the magic of Marseille in the autumn months of September and November, when temperatures are lower and there are fewer tourists.
However, the persistent rains in spring and fall may limit your activities. Still, there’s an undeniable charm of being among very few tourists with the backdrop of the relatively tamer weather, if that’s what you’re into.
2. A Thrilling, Multi-Cultural Food Scene
Since it’s been influenced by Mediterranean and European cultures, Marseille offers a wide variety of delicacies from both sides of the Mediterranean sea. You can indulge in a traditional French meal today and a home-grown North African specialty tomorrow.
But this diversity doesn’t stop in Marseille’s food scene, as you’ll notice it in the city’s architecture and shopping joints.
Marseille Is Home to The World Famous Bouillabaisse
Marseille is home to the world-renowned bouillabaisse, a spicy fish stew that has humble beginnings but now brings visitors from far and wide to the port city.
Initially popular among sailors and made from leftover fish, don’t be surprised if you encounter a bowl with a premium price tag. They even have an official bouillabaisse website that directs tourists to fresh, original bouillabaisse.
Marseille Has Legendary Dining Experiences
Marseilles’ food scene has something for everyone as far as gastronomical pleasures are concerned. Here are a few examples of their delicious delights:
- If you want to enjoy rich, locally-brewed coffee, you’ll love Brulerie Moka. You can find classic French coffee at Café de la Banque, whose patio heats up during winter, making the ambiance so cozy you won’t want to leave.
- Épicerie l’Idéal presents the perfect setting for a casual lunch with friends. For a classic Tunisian meal experience, Chez Yassine is across the street.
- Marseille also allows tourists to indulge in Apéro, a uniquely French tradition that involves bonding with friends over a few cocktails and snacks before dinner. It also allows diners to prepare their palettes for the incoming meal.
- The Café de l’Abbaye and Café de l’Abbayeare are perfect apéro spots. If you can get a seat on its first floor, the latter will offer you stunning views of the Vieux Port.
3. Stunning Architectural Sights
Since the Greeks founded Marseille around 600 B.C.E., the port city has been a melting pot of cultures. Consequently, the architecture mirrors its extensive diversity and enchants tourists and locals alike.
Fans of The Count of Monte Cristo are familiar with Chateau d’If, the prison that housed the protagonist Edmonde Dantès. If you wish to walk in his fictional shoes, Marseille is the place to be.
It’s also the location of stunning churches like the Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica and Cathédrale La Major. Even those not of the Christian persuasion might be awestruck by these architectural marvels.
The status as the seventh largest European port also makes Marseille worth visiting. Marseille is always buzzing with commercial activity at the port, which would be fascinating to those interested in the ins and outs of international trade.
4. Beautiful Beaches
Marseille has a long coastline that houses several beautiful natural and artificial beaches. Whether you’d like to hike up rocky seaside escarpments or lounge in the warm Mediterranean Sea, there’s something for everyone on Marseille’s beaches.
Visit a Popular Man-Made Beach at the Plage du Prado
This 2 km (1.24 miles) stretch of manmade beaches was designed to be a place where locals could retreat to enjoy a refreshing swim and an assortment of activities. Since it’s a 15-minute bus ride to central Marseille, it’s also become popular with tourists.
At this beach city, you can play beach volleyball or football, windsurf, or skate at the skate park near Bonneveine Beach. If you’re not as athletic, or if you want to chill out, how about taking a trip down memory lane by visiting Château Borély – Musée des arts décoratifs, a museum in a rustic 18th-century mansion?
If You Want To Hike, Visit Calanque d’En Vau
This secluded beach is a textbook example of good things coming to those who wait.
It’s not a tourist hub like Plage du Prado and other beaches near Vieux Port, but what it lacks in human activity, it makes up for by being one of the most scenic experiences you can enjoy in Marseille.
To get to Calanque d’En Vau, you’ll have to take a one-hour hike through a trail lined with pine trees. Once you arrive, the inlets, reminiscent of tall, pearl-colored cliffs and clear blue waters, will justify the trek.
If Swimming Is Your Thing, You Can’t Miss the Calanque de Sormiou
If hiking to a beach isn’t your ideal way to spend a vacation, you’ll be glad to know that you can still enjoy the marvelous natural beaches in Marseille. Calanque de Sormiou is an ideal example of this middle ground.
Just a 20-minute drive from the beaches along Plage du Prado, this destination gets significant traffic, especially during the summer. Its popularity has necessitated the creation of designated swimming areas away from the boats.
Families flock to this beach on the back of this assurance.
Speaking of a safe swimming experience for kids, have you ever wanted to fill an inflatable with air but didn’t have a pump? In this article, I revealed some nifty substitutes you can use to get the job done.