Marseille City Guide

France’s oldest city, Marseille, is a charming autumn getaway.


The bustling port city is France’s second largest commune, where the fall days are just warm enough for lunch by the sea and a stroll along the harbour by night.


At the heart of the city lies the Vieux Port, a colourful old harbour where ships docked for centuries. Now it thrives with fishing boats and impressive yachts. Every day of the year fisherman present their best catch of the day at the Marché au Poisson (fish market), where many local restaurants source their classic Bouillabaisse for many a tourist to enjoy for the evening.


The colourful harbour of Vieux Port. Source: Leila Wallace

A wide variety of bars, restaurants and cafes surround the bustling harbour. This is ideal for a sunny lunch on the terrace of La Caravelle, a traditional dinner of Coq au vin or a French martini or two.


The old town of Marseille, located in the quarter of La Panier, is an ideal place for an afternoon wander through beautiful squares and a browse through the art shops. 


A day trip by boat to the gorgeous national park of the Calanques is a essential. It’s only ten miles from the city and boasts the highest cliffs in France where a series of white limestone crevices rise above the beautiful, turquoise Mediterranean waters below.

The national park of the Calanques. Source: Leila Wallace

Marseille Cathedral is one of the most iconic buildings in the city. Structured in a Byzantine-Roman style, it is the national monument of France, featuring a grand interior lined with murals, mosaic and marble.


Marseille hosts a wide range of street markets, from Marché Avenue du Prado, which sells everything from local produce, fruit, fresh flowers, clothing and household items to Marché Capucins, one of the noisiest and busiest markets selling herbs spices and African food.


Finally, head up the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, a Romanesque-Byzantine church, topped with a golden statue of the Virgin Mary for outstanding views across the city, especially at sunset.


Filled with over 1500 years of history, and a remarkable variety of galleries, museums, boutique hotels, delicious French food and shopping, Marseille has everything the autumn traveller could ask for.

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