Getting There

Marseille-Provence Airport (; tel. 04-42-14-14-14), 27km (17 miles) northwest of the city center, receives international flights from all over Europe. From the airport, shuttle buses (navettes;; tel. 08-92-70-08-40) make the trip to Marseille’s St-Charles rail station, near the Vieux-Port, for 10€, 7€ passengers 12 to 26, and 5€ children 11 and under. The shuttle buses run daily every 20 min. from 4am until 1am; the trip takes 25 min.

Marseille has train connections from all over Europe, particularly to and from Nice, and on to Italy. It’s also linked to Paris via the TGV bullet train, which departs almost every hour from the Gare de Lyon (trip time: 3 hr., 20 min.;; tel. 36-35; 40€–125€ one-way). Buses serve the Gare Routière, rue Honnorat (tel. 04-91-08-16-40), adjacent to the St-Charles railway station. Several buses run daily between Aix-en-Provence and Marseille (; trip time: 40 min.; 7€ one-way). If you’re driving from Paris, follow A6 south to Lyon, and then continue south along A7 to Marseille. The drive takes about 8 hours. From Provence, take A7 south to Marseille.

City Layout & Getting Around

Marseille is a large metropolis, although most sights are concentrated around the Vieux Port. If you’re keen to explore different parts of the city, you’ll need to take advantage of its comprehensive public transport or have a strong set of legs.

Neighborhoods in Brief — The major arteries divide Marseille into 16 arrondissements. Like Paris, the last two digits of a postal code tell you within which arrondissement an address is located. Visitors tend to spend most of their time in four main neighborhoods. The first is the Vieux Port, the atmospheric natural harbor that’s a focal point for the city center. From here, the wide La Canebière boulevard runs eastwards, bisected by Marseille’s most popular shopping avenues. To the north lies Le Panier, the original Old Town, crisscrossed by a pastel network of undulating alleyways. This neighborhood’s western edge is trimmed by former docklands, which have been completed redeveloped over the past few years. Southeast of the Vieux Port, the alternative neighborhood around cours Julien is home to convivial restaurants, hipster bars, thrift stores, and one-off boutiques aplenty. And come summertime, action shifts to the Plages du Prado, a strip of beaches due south of the city center.

On Foot — Each of Marseille’s neighborhoods is easily navigable on foot. However, unless you’re an avid walker, you may want to rely on either the Métro, the tramway or Le Vélo public bikes, to zip around town.

By Car — Parking and car safety are so problematic that your best bet is to park in a garage and rely on public transport.

By Taxi — Contact Taxis Radio Marseille (; tel. 04-91-02-20-20). Uber and Bolt operate in the city, and are frequently cheaper and friendlier.

By Bike or ScooterLe Vélo ( is Marseille’s easy-to-use bike share scheme. Simply unlock one of the 1,000 bikes from the 130 stands across the city using a credit card or sign up before you travel. The 7-day service costs just 1€ with the first 30 min. of pedaling completely free. Equally fun are legions of electric scooters that have blossomed across the city. Simply download an app from Lime, Bird, or Tier, then unlock one for around 0.30€ per minute. Instructions will pop up on your cellphone screen. Each scooter automatically switches off if you’re whizzing through a prohibited area, only to restart when it’s pushed to a free riding zone.

By Public Transport — Métro lines 1 and 2 both stop at the main train station, Gare St-Charles, place Victor Hugo. Line 1 makes a U-shaped circuit from the suburbs into the city and back again; Line 2 runs north and south in the downtown area. Also with two lines, the tramway services the Canabière and the refurbished Joliette Docks district, as well as continuing out to the suburbs. Individual tickets are 2€; they’re valid on Métro, tram, and bus lines for up to 60 minutes after purchase. If you plan to take public transport several times during your stay, buy a pass journée, valid for 1 day for 5.20€. Transit maps are downloadable from the Régie des Transport de Marseille (; tel. 04-91-91-92-10).

Marseille City Pass

Alternatively, it’s also possible to purchase a 1-day (29€), 2-day (39€), or 3-day (47€) City Pass from the Marseille Tourist Office. The pass covers all public transport, including the round-trip ferry trip to Château d’If, as well as entrance to more than a dozen of the city’s museums and a ride on the petit-train up to the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde.

Visitor Information — The Office de Tourisme is at 11 la Canebière (; tel. 08-26-50-05-00; Métro: Vieux-Port).

Special Events — Le Défi de Monte-Cristo (—also known as the Monte-Cristo Challenge—is inspired by Alexandre Dumas' 19th-century novel, The Count of Monte Cristo. In the story, main character Edmond Dantès escapes from Château d'If by swimming to the French mainland. In late June, hundreds of participants battle it out to replicate Dantès’ 5-km (3-mile) swim, each one hoping to win the race’s 3,000€ prize.

The city’s Festival de Marseille (, a citywide celebration of music, dance, and arts, is held from mid-June to mid-July.

As summer winds down, Septembre en Mer (September at Sea, celebrates any and everything sea-related, from boating and paddle-boarding to Mediterranean cuisine and an environmentally sound coastline. Festivities take place from late August until early October and culminate with the Vieux Port's Marine Parade.

For runners, Marseille holds an annual Marathon (, half-marathon and 10km-run each year in September. 

The city’s most popular music festival since its inception in 1992 is Fiesta des Suds ( It’s held annually in late October. Live acts include prominent South American and African bands, as well as big international names such as Patti Smith.

ATMs/Banks — Marseille’s banks are plentiful, including three along La Canebière.

Doctors & Hospitals — Hopital Saint Joseph, 26 bd. de Louvain (; tel. 04-91-80-65-00).

Embassies & Consulates — British Consulate Marseille, 10 pl. de la Joliette (; tel. 04-91-15-72-10); Consulate General of the United States Marseille, pl. Varian Fry (; tel. 01-43-12-48-85).

Internet Access — Marseille’s municipality hosts 50 free Wi-Fi hotspots around the city. Central locations (including Jardin du Pharo, the square outside the Hôtel de Ville, and La Vieille Charité) are indicated on the free maps distributed by the tourist office.

Mail & Postage — La Poste, 1 cours Jean Ballard (tel. 36-31).

Pharmacies — La Pharmacie Méditerranéenne, 37 la Canebière (tel. 04-91-91-32-06).

Safety — As in any big city, it’s wise to keep to keep a close eye on your belongings and avoid poorly lit areas at night.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.