On a recent trip to France we wanted to know what to do in Marseille ?. In a nutshell we found lots of interesting places and most that were free and all within a small radius of each other.
The Metro in Marseille is easy to get around. Therefore we could cover a great deal of ground both by foot and by Metro. The metro only has 2 rail lines the Blue and Red or 1 and 2.
We stayed near the Castellane metro station which is on the metro red line as shown in the picture above. When we arrived at the main bus/train station at Saint Charles, the metro line was easy to find. It was also very cheap at a few euro’s ( 3.40 at time of writing). As you can see in the above picture it is only 3 stops from the main st Saint Charles Marseille bus station to Castellane where we were staying.
So what to do in Marseille?
We first went to the Vieux port by metro and as the metro arrives directly at the port it was therefore no hassle. The vieux port or old Port provides wonderful views of the Marina and also the Notre Dame. The Notre Dame sits impressively in the distance high on a hill. The great Madonna on top of the Notre dame glistens in the sunshine. Known Also, to the French as La Bonne Mere and translated to English as the ( “the good Mother”).
The Famous Vieux Port !
Walking along the path or Quay du port in the north side of Vieux port which is consequently the nerve center of Marseille. There are lots to see and do and it is always buzzing day or night, as a result it is alive with vibrancy. By walking down the port toward the end of the bay you will come across the Saint jean fort in which houses the Mucem or museum.
When looking over to the north side of the bay you can see fort st Nicolas both being fortification and built-in 1660 by louis XIV. The earlier structures owe their past to the crusaders and the knights Hospitaller.
Inland and opposite the fort sean Jean is the Saint-laurent church constructed from pink limestone, acquired from the la Couronne quarry and is a rare remnant of the Roman Provencal style of Marseilles. Just around the corner from the church is the Marseille cathedral and the structure dominates the skyline.
Panier district !
Turning right and away from the Marseille port you will come across one of the old town areas know as the Panier . Panier is a lovely district with its meandering walkways and it’s noteworthy and interesting art area. Full of great artists and probably with some of the most amazing graffiti we have seen. (except for Banksy of course ). We loved this area !!
Sean Jean fort !
The Sean Jean fort at the bay entrance towering over the vieux port has amazing views over the marina, the boats and also the Notre Dame. The Notre Dame is viewable in the distance perched up high almost kissing the clouds.
It was in the Sean Jean Fort, which is free to enter that we watched a video on the history of Marseille starting with how Marseille began some 2600 years ago. Especially relevant was the explanation in detail why and how the Greeks colonised the city around 600 BC. The video brought the area and city to life and was very informative. The Sean jean fort also has a square tower and we walked up the steps known as the Tour du Roi Rene, there are 154 steps, so not for the faint hearted.
It has amazing views over the port and also the Notre Dame and views of Abbaye de Saint Victor on the south side of the port.
NOTRE DAME !
Notre Dame in Marseille is a must visit, towering over the city of Marseille with great views of all the major sites of the city. Steeped in religion and Catholicism. we walked from Castellane Metro along the Boulevard Vauban and up a fairly easy walk but not wheelchair friendly ! (it is a hill). The madonna and child glisten in the sunlight made of gilded copper and encased in gold leaf and shimmering high above. The Notre dame De la Garde sits on a limestone outcrop and built where there was once a fort, part of the spur of the fort can still be seen today. The visit rewards most of all with stunning views across Marseille and the basilica is place of pilgrimage.
As we were staying at the Residence Meublee services it was an easy walk to Notre Dame and only took around 15 minutes to meander up the hill. It is easily viewable on the walk.
To look at the video of Residenc meublee services please visit here !! . It is a 5 minute walk from the Castellane Metro station so very accessible and has self catering to keep the cost down. It is a no frills and fancies place but its clean, well located, great security and the bed is comfy.
So what to do in Marseille, walk, talk, eat peruse the art areas and so much more. It is a city that is easy to navigate and steeped in history !!