Marseille is the kind of French town that has the same amount of charm as Paris, despite being less popular among the traveling crowd. With new arts districts, rejuvenated neighborhoods, and inventive museums popping up left and right, you could say Marseille is having its very own moment. Head to the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations to understand everything you’ve ever wanted to learn about this region while on Mediterranean cruises, plus experience its breathtaking and adventurous design. Explore the neighborhoods of Cours Julien and Le Panier to experience their own unique vibes.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to the region of Provence without experiencing high-quality French food, baked goods like fresh croissants and pastries, strong red wine, and a culture highly tuned into enjoying the moment. Whether you stay local to the Vieux port in Marseille or take a day trip further into Provence, this corner of the Mediterranean deserves careful study from anyone who decides to visit on a Marseille cruise.
Le Panier is the oldest quarter in all of Marseille. In this artistic, bohemian neighborhood, you can stroll along Rue du Panier and relax at Place des Pistoles or Place de Lenche. On a Marseille cruise, an afternoon at Le Panier will feel like living in a French fairytale.
The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations only opened in 2013, but it quickly became a premiere cultural institution. Architecturally, it’s one of the most recognizable sights in Marseille, and the entire museum celebrates and honors the anthropological and artistic achievements of the Mediterranean.
A tour of this national monument and Roman Catholic church of France is a must-do experience. The magnificent church holds religious and historical significance, making it one of Marseille’s most recognizable sights and a symbol of the area’s earlier opulence and excess.
Perhaps the only word that fully describes Cours Julien is “trendy.” The 19th century architecture and city walls are decorated in beautiful murals and works of street art commissioned by local artists. It has a similar vibe to Miami’s bustling Wynwood District. It’s a great spot for taking photos and admiring the art. It’s only a 10-minute walk from the Vieux Port.
Vieux Port is one of the clear highlights of Marseille and the entire region of Provence itself. The romance of Vieux Port is apparent when you arrive. It’s an easy introduction to the city, plus you can walk around, watch the boats sail out in the harbor, or stay for a sunset. Take a ride on the Ferris wheel here for a fun vista of the entire city.
This neighborhood was once falling into disarray, but today it’s been revitalized as a center for arts and culture. Close to the Cathédrale La Major and the Musée des Civilisations, the neighborhood makes for a pleasant afternoon of gallery and museum hopping.
Address: 23 rue des Repenties, 13002 Marseille, France
For vegetarians, it’s hard to beat the sandwiches at Mamma Cucina. The restaurant is also known for light fare like salads, freshly baked focaccia, and other savory lunch treats.
AM par Alexandre Mazzia
Address: 9 rue Rocca, 13008 Marseille, France
AM promises a fine dining, upscale experience like you’ve never had before. Making a reservation is recommended, since space in the restaurant is limited to only 24 seats. Open for lunch and dinner, all dishes are part of a changing, chef’s choice daily menu, with different price points for different numbers of courses.
Address: 1 boulevard Perier, 13008 Marseille, France
Dishes like tuna tartare and salads, savory tarts, risotto, and others comprise a simple and minimal menu at Bistrot o’prado. Don’t miss the creme brulee for dessert.
Marseille has the unique distinction of being the second-largest city in France, and it’s an area that the region of Provence has become known for. Marseille has had settlements from other groups dating back to the Greek and Roman times. The tropical Mediterranean weather stays mild and the summers are warm, attracting both summer travelers and winter escapees every year. Today, Marseille is working to add substance to its style, creating new and innovative museums and opening upscale restaurants along the way. The renaissance is just beginning, starting with the Vieux Port, while Marseille continues to dance to the beat of its own drum.
On a cruise, Marseille makes for an ideal port city. When you get off the ship, you’ll already be where all the action is. Shops, quaint cafes, glamorous restaurants, and umbrella-filled bar patios are all located nearby just waiting to be explored.
There’s a shuttle bus to and from Vieux Port when you arrive, and that’s how most Marseille cruise passengers arrive in the heart of the city. You’ll be well within walking distance when you get to the Vieux Port. Taxis and bike rentals are readily available for getting around. There’s also a small tourist train that takes travelers to the major sights.
When you cruise Marseille, you’ll find plenty of shopping near Vieux Port, as well as an abundance of boutiques in the city. Shop for souvenirs by the cruise terminal or at Old Harbor's Craft Market, which specializes in the kinds of elegant French presents family members back home will love. Head to rue St-Ferréol for higher-end clothing, handbags, and chic fashions.
The official currency France uses is the euro, and credit and debit cards are frequently accepted here. Carrying a little bit of cash is always helpful when going to more coastal French cities, where the majority of businesses are locally owned and operated. There is usually a service charge included on your restaurant bill, which is required by law. Be sure to leave 10-15% as a tip for a taxi driver when in France. You should leave a one to two euro tip for a tour guide as well.