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Long weekend in Marseille:organization and sites to visit

Long weekend in Marseille:organization and sites to visit

You have decided to go on a long weekend to Marseille and you are doing well. Indeed, if you do not yet know the city of Marseille, you will love it, there are so many magnificent places to see and things to do. First of all, Marseille is a very pleasant city all year round, because it benefits from the Mediterranean climate. Even if sometimes the mistral blows a little too hard, it chases away the clouds quickly and brings you a bit of freshness during the summer season. You can therefore schedule your visit at any time of the year.

Take the City Pass

To visit the most beautiful monuments of Marseille, it is in your best interest to take the City Pass of the city. It is valid from 24 to 72 hours and includes:

  • Unlimited access to all public transport in the city
  • Free access to Marseille museums
  • The boat trip to visit the Château d’If and the Frioul Islands
  • The little train tour between the old town center and the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica
  • Discounts in many stores

Its price is 27 € for one day, 37 € for two days and 43 € for three days. You can buy it online or pick it up at the Tourist and Congress Office.

Our Lady of the Guard

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde dominates the metropolis from the hill on which it is perched 150 meters high. As soon as you reach the "Bonne Mère", you can admire the sea and Marseille offering you a 360° panorama. Notre-Dame de la Garde is dedicated to the Virgin Mary who is symbolized by a statue on her bell tower. It weighs more than nine seven tons and is covered in gold. This Virgin is the protector of sailors as well as of the city. When you enter the heart of the basilica, you will discover very pretty mosaics and a red and white marble interior. To climb to the top of the hill, in order to visit this monument, you can go there on foot, by bus, by car, by small train, and even by Segway.

The Old Port

The Old Port is a must visit when you go to Marseille. It was founded by the Phocaeans during Antiquity. You can walk on its quays and admire the boats, go to the fish market every morning and go for a walk at the "Bar de la Marine" so dear to Pagnol and symbolic of his trilogy. The Old Port of Marseille is still the departure point for boat excursions. You will embark there to see the creeks, the Frioul islands or even the Château d'If.

The Panier district

The Panier district was for a long time a place not recommended for tourists, because it had a very bad reputation. In recent years, it has become the fashionable place where many films and series are shot. Le Panier is also narrow streets leading you to very pretty craft shops and colorful little bars where it is good to stop for a pastis or a cold drink. When you are there, visit the old Charité housing 4 museums, Street-art, Place de Lenche with a view of the Notre-Dame basilica. Then go and eat on the Place des Pistoles and taste the typical dishes of the place such as a bouillabaisse, for example.


From the Old Port, embark for the Frioul Islands. In less than half an hour, you will be there. The boat will leave you on the island of Ratonneau where you can swim and visit its creeks. You can still go to the island of the Château d'If dating from the 16th century, built at the request of François I to defend the coast and watch over the city of Marseille. In 1580, it was transformed into a prison where many famous people such as the Marquis de Sade, Mirabeau or the most famous Count of Monte-Cristo were locked up. The visit of this castle is paying and you can take your ticket on arrival or online. Frioul also includes the island of Pomègues and its superb beaches, including that of "Tahiti".

The Auffres valley

The Vallon des Auffres is a pretty district of Marseille with a small port and fishermen's huts as well as the very colorful local boats called "Pointus". This port is very picturesque and authentic. On site, there is an emblematic restaurant where you can taste succulent fresh fish or a traditional bouillabaisse which is the institution of the place. The setting is exceptional and you'll think you're in a small village far from the big city.

The Cornice

The JF Kennedy Corniche starts from the Prado beaches and ends at the Catalans beach. You can walk there on foot, by bike or even on a scooter, and even jog along the Big Blue. You can still admire the Frioul islands from its edge and then climb up to the Valmer park to enjoy a superb panorama.

The Longchamp Palace

Do not miss to visit the Palais Longchamp in Marseille, because it is certainly the most beautiful building in the city. Initially, it was built to be a water tower and collect the waters of the Durance. Currently, it houses the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Natural History. You can admire the magnificent monumental arcades and its prestigious fountains.

The Calanques National Park

Many people believe that the creeks are located in the municipality of Cassis. They are wrong, because most of them are located on Marseille soil. You will be able to see them from the sea by embarking on a boat at the Old Port and find the most beautiful ones like those of:

  • Sormiou
  • Sugiton
  • En-Vau
  • Port-Pin
  • Port Miou

You can also access it on foot by leaving your car in one of the car parks provided for this purpose. Once you have walked a few minutes, the Calanques will reveal their heavenly beauty to you. Only the Calanque de Port-Miou is located in the municipality of Cassis. All the others are located in the 8th and 9th arrondissements of Marseille. If you follow the panoramic path, you will discover unique landscapes in the world and still very preserved. You can take advantage of your visit to spend the day there, have a picnic and swim in the clear, turquoise water.

The Cathedral of the Major

The Cathedral of the Major is called the "Pajama" by the Marseillais, because it is built in facings of two tones giving it the impression of being striped. In Romano-Byzantine style, its first stone was laid by Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in 1852 and was consecrated as a cathedral in 1896. It stands on the remains of an old Romanesque church on an esplanade near the Old Port. This cathedral was the only one built in the 19th century in our country. It is huge since its dimensions are close to the basic Saint Peter's in Rome. You can admire its cupolas and balustrades similar to those of the cathedrals of Siena and Lucca. On its facade, one can also see the statues of Christ, of certain apostles and of the saints of Provence. Inside, don't miss Christ and Saint Veronica, the statues of the four evangelists, the onyx Ciborium, the tomb of Saint Eugene de Mazenod and the altars of Jules Cantini.

Fort Saint Jean and the Mucem

The Fort Saint Jean and the Mucem are also worth visiting. In the Mucem, you can discover the civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean. Its contemporary architecture will surprise you and you can admire the landscape from its roof terrace which connects the building to Fort Saint Jean and its ancient ramparts and its gardens of vestiges. This fort is unique. It is built on remains dating back to Antiquity and dates from the 17th century.

Marseille is also the singing accent, the South, poets, painters, famous singers like Montand and many more. You can go up the Fameuse Canebière and do some window shopping, or go all the way to Rue de Rome, where you will find some wonderful boutiques. Marseille is still Provence, the pitchounes and the "Sardine that blocked the port". Immerse yourself in the places, smell, taste, see and admire!