Marseille has a wide range of restaurants to suit every palate and pocket. The city is best known for its fresh seafood and French classics, but many dishes have a strong North African influence.
The streets around the Vieux Port such as Rue Saint-Saëns are packed with busy restaurants and many offer fixed-price menus at lunch and dinner. The Place de Lenche has a selection of mid-priced restaurants with outdoor seating.
The Cours Julien is dotted with relaxed bars and restaurants at a range of prices. For more stylish (and expensive) restaurants, try Rue Paradis, which runs south from the port.
L'Epuisette on the seafront and La Boite à Sardines on the Canabière both serve excellent seafood. No-frills Chez Etienne, a pizzeria in Le Panier, is a local institution.
The chef recommends...
- Bouillabaisse: A fish-based broth, typically including monkfish, John Dory, sea urchins and vegetables.
- Navettes de Marseille: A doughy biscuit that dates to the 13th century. Navettes are traditionally flavoured with orange-blossom water.
- Aïoli: A sauce made with garlic, egg and olive oil. It often accompanies fish dishes.
- Pastis: An aniseed-flavoured spirit, served with ice and water. This regional speciality is perfect for a late-afternoon apéritif.
Shopping in Marseille
As France’s second-largest city, Marseille offers a mix of high-end shops, familiar chains and stylish boutiques. Bustling markets around the city are the perfect places to shop for local food and gifts.
The hottest local and international designer boutiques are concentrated in the Opéra district, particularly streets near the Rue de Rome and the Rue Paradis. For a broader, more budget-friendly range of shops, visit the Terrasses du Port and Centre Bourse indoor shopping malls.
You’ll find independent shops along the streets north of the Vieux Port in the Le Panier district, and offbeat boutiques surrounding Cours Julien square. Head to Marseille’s lively outdoor markets, such as the Marché de la Plaine and the Rue Longue des Capucins, for fish fresh off the boat and exotic fruits and vegetables.
Top souvenirs from Marseille
- Oil-based Savon de Marseille (Marseille soap) has been made in the city since the 14th century. It’s sold throughout the city, but the Compagnie de Provence near the port makes some of the best.
- Marseille is a football-crazy city and you’ll spot people of all ages proudly sporting their blue-and-white colours. You can pick up your own Olympique Marseille shirt from the official shop at 44 La Canebière.
- The Marseille region is famous for its rosé wine, but the city is also proud of its refreshing home-grown beer, La Cagole de Marseille. You’ll find it in shops and bars around town.
Culture & Nightlife in Marseille
Whether you prefer a night at the opera or clubbing into the early hours, you’ll have plenty to choose from in Marseille. Waterfront bars and restaurants around the Vieux Port draw late-night crowds. Just a few streets away, you’ll find galleries, theatres and museums.
Marseille was European Capital of Culture in 2013 and the city still has a vibrant cultural life. Theatres La Criée and Théâtre de la Lenche are a short walk from Le Panier, while La Friche arts centre, which offers a range of performances and exhibitions, is near the Saint-Charles district. The Opéra Marseille season runs from September to June
Night owls head to the Vieux Port or slightly farther along the Corniche towards the bars and clubs around the Plage Borély. Hardcore partiers from around Europe gather in Marseille every August to hear superstar DJs spin at the Positiv festival.
Marseille Museums and Galleries
- The MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations) explores the history of the region and also hosts temporary exhibitions and contemporary art shows.
- The Musée d'Art Contemporain</a> is close to the beach and displays an internationally-respected collection of art dating from the 1960s to the present day.
- The Musée d'Histoire de Marseille traces the story of the town over the past 2,600 years and has impressive views over the Vieux Port.
- Set in an elegant 17th-century mansion, the Musée Cantini specialises in 20th-century art.
Visiting Marseille with a Family
The streets of Marseille’s bustling city centre are great fun to explore, as are its family-friendly museums and galleries. The waterfront has something for all ages with its busy port, boat trips and nearby beaches.
Taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the Vieux Port and wandering the nooks and crannies of the nearby Le Panier district is great fun. The MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations), a short walk from the port, has a Children’s Odyssey exhibit which leads kids through a virtual, interactive tour of the Mediterranean.
Boat trips run regularly from the port to the nearby Château d’If, of “The Count of Monte Cristo” fame, as well as the îles du Frioul. These tiny limestone islands are home to rare plant species and seabirds, making them an ideal place for a nature walk.
The Palais Longchamp, near the Saint-Charles district, houses the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de Marseille, where the whole family can learn about the local wildlife then relax in the nearby Parc Longchamp.
Marseille’s supervised beaches, such as the Plage Borély, are a short trip from the city centre and offer a range of watersports.
Things to do outdoors in Marseille
- Le Petit Train de Marseille is a fun way to take in the city’s top sights.
- Marseille’s sandy, supervised, beaches are perfect for the whole family to relax. If you’re feeling sporty, why not try out snorkelling, jetskis or windsurfing?
- Take a boat trip from the Vieux Port to the Calanques to check out their UNESCO-protected beauty and to swim in their crystal-clear waters.