Marseille is the largest and oldest city in France with over 57 kilometers of the seafront, located in the South Coast of the country. In this article, I have created a great 3-day itinerary to follow for a long weekend in the city and visit the must-see sights in the town centre and discover some hidden local favourites.
LADY OF LA GARDE
Why not start your long weekend by visiting one of the most famous places in the city, the Lady of La Garde, a place which locals call The Good Mother. This cathedral is often referred to as the symbol of Marseilles and is the highest point of the city.
The cathedral is over 800 years old, and she has been known as the mother of the sailors since the end of the 16th century when sailors started visiting the cathedral to pray. In 1214, the cathedral only had a little chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was built on a hill called La Garde. In 1524, Francis 1st built a fort around the chapel to use it as a strategic point in case of a war. Today it is open to the public and is a sanctuary and active fortress.
The cathedral can be reached by bus, on line 60, from the Metro Vieux Port station in the Old Port. From the bus stop, you continue walking in the direction of the Noailles neighborhood.
Once you’re back in the Old Port, you can walk up the Canebiere Avenue, in the direction of Rue de Rome to go and visit the oldest herbalist shop in France, The Père Blaize , opened in 1815.
At a few streets from there, you can go and visit The Empereur Shop, the oldest hardware store in France opened in 1827. This started as a small shop and today it has grown into a shop which covered two floors, but through all of this, it has stayed within the family and is still run by them today. Inside the shop, you will find everything you need for your house, from new to old, and every room, and the shop also has vintage toys.
By now, it’s lunchtime and Noailles is full of restaurants with very good and cheap restaurants. There is a great restaurant called Pizza Charly in the Capuchins Market, which has the cheapest pizza in the area and has some of the best pizza in the city. You can buy a slice of pizza, a half or an entire pizza to go. Recently they even opened a room for those who want to sit in and eat the pizza.
Once you have eaten lunch, if you like spices, you must take a trip to Saladin (10 rue Longue des Capucins), you won’t be disappointed. If you like exploring the neighborhood, there is also a few greened streets such as Rue de Chateauredon and Rue de l’Arc. On the way to Rue d’Aubagne, you can stop for a drink at the Joli Rouge flea market.
If you are more of a street art fan, you can visit Cours Julien. This is a small neighbourhood filled with street art, cafes, and restaurants with food from all around the world.
My favourite places in the city are Ego for ice cream, the Black Bird Coffee, and for great cupcakes go to Mademoiselle Cupcake on Notre Dame du Mont next to the Cours Julien. Noailles is also the perfect neighborhood to get an evening drink.
If you prefer architecture and museums, you can visit Longchamp Palace with its Museum of Fine Arts on the left and the Museum of Natural History on the right. This Palace was built to celebrate the arrival of water into the city in 1862. Behind the palace, you can find and relax at Longchamp Park.
You can access Longchamp Palace by taking the Subway on line M1 between Cinq-Avenues Longchamp station, or the tram line T2 between Cinq Avenue station, or any of the 6,7,42,81 buses.
The second day of our Marseille itinerary begins in Old Port. You can walk on the right side of the port to The Caravelle, which is a little cafe on the 1st floor of 34 Quai du Port. They serve croissants, orange juice, and coffee for breakfast. They also have a small balcony with a great view, but make sure you get there early as the balcony gets crowded.
After breakfast, you can walk to the City Hall, by following the stairs to Villeneuve Bargemon Square and take right to make a stop at the Cabre Hotel, after the 2nd World War the hotel was moved and turned 90° to fit with the new layout of the street.
While in the area you can take a look at the Intercontinental Hotel. This beautiful building (you can go for a drink or for lunch on the terrace with the Good Mother watching over you) was built as a hospital in 1188 and was reopened in 2013 to become a 5* hotel.
As you continue your journey through the neighbourhood, you can enjoy an ice cream at Vanille Noire. The owner has created ice cream with the same name, a vanilla and black that it looks like charcoal but it’s actually the squid ink which gives it that colour. Either you like it or you don’t or you don’t, personally, I totally love it! They use no or very few additives in their ice creams.
Panier is a neighbourhood filled with beautiful street art, small shops, narrow streets, and colourful buildings. Panier has a great soap shop called Bazar of Cesar. The owner and sales staff can explain each soap and their uses, and it is a great place to purchase souvenirs.
When visiting this area make sure you don’t miss the Old Charity centre which is a great place to see beautiful architecture. This area has several museums, which you can visit and walk into for free. It’s like traveling back in time.
After you have visited this area you can stop at The Major Cathedrale, then stop for lunch in Panier square, a great place to eat lunch is on the 2nd floor of the Regards de Provence Museum at the Regards Cafe. The cafe has two terraces (indoor and outdoor) the terraces face the MuCEM, Villa Mediterranean, and the ocean.
After lunch, you can visit the MuCEM or Fort St Jean which is considered by many as a photographers playground. The museum opened in 2013 and you can enter for free and walk around the corridors.
The museum has a great rooftop with chairs and deckchairs to relax and enjoy the view of the ocean and Pharo Garden. The museum is attached to Fort St Jean and you can access it from the rooftop at the bridge. Once inside the fort, you can wander around the grounds paths, migrations gardens, and you can go up to the top of the King René Tower, and admire the view.
After exploring the fort you can walk in the direction of Regards de Provence Museum and walk along the Major Vaults where you can find a large number of boutique shops and restaurants. Here you should try Esperantines which are chocolates than contain olive oil.
For the final stop of the day, you can walk along to The Docks Village at La Joliette, where you can take the entrance directly from the square. The Docks Village is home to shops, restaurants, bookstores, cafes boutiques, and galleries, all located within a 19th-century building, which is owned by the port.
Inside there are four little squares that represent the four seasons. The entrance to the building also has decorative features which represent the four seasons.
For the third and final day in Marseille, it is a good idea to explore the coastline and the Mediterranean sea. There are lots of things to explore and look at, on the coastline.
A great place to stop is L’Ombrière, which was designed by Norman Foster in 2013. It is a huge mirror ceiling which is popular with photographers.
Other great places to visit are the Pharo Gardens and Pharo Place, although you can’t visit the place you can walk around the gardens. This palace was built for Napoleon for his wife but they ended up giving it to the town instead.
Close to the Pharo Palace is Four des Navettes which sells Navettes (an orange blossom biscuit) and other bakery items.
Great beaches to stop at along the coastline are The Catalans, Vallon des Auffes (which is a little fisherman village with natural pools), Malmousque Cove, Maldorme Cove (Anse de Maldormé), and Fake Money Cove (Anse de la Fausse Monnaie).
Many of these can be reached by following along the street and path close to the ocean. On the path, there is a restaurant called Passedat which has four green doors.
Back on the main road, you can walk along the road and visit the Kennedy Corniche which is the longest bench in the world. The bench is 3km long and stretches along the seafront and you can sit down where you think is the best view. At the end of the corniche is beautiful colourful mosaics which were created by children in the local area.
A great place to stop for a drink is at NHOW which has a terrace close to a private beach where you can enjoy the view. For a budget price drink, you can continue walking to the beach of Prado. Here there is a bakery where you can have a drink and sit on the beach close to the statue of David.
Another great place to explore is Valmer Park which sits at the top of a hill which you can climb up, from the top you can see Passedat wall and the beaches below.
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN MARSEILLE
If you decide to stay another day or two, you can visit these additional places:
- The Calanques, The Goudes or Frioul Archipelago for hiking and beach lovers (it’s very important to have tennis shoes on your feet and a big bottle of water to go to those places)
- Castle of If, for the lovers of literature and/or history
- The botanical garden in the Borely Park (tickets available in the Borely Castle)
- The Radiant City by The Corbusier, a building unit with beautiful architecture and rooftop.
- The Friche Belle de Mai, a cultural place with a skatepark, multiple sports section, exhibit areas, restaurant, and there is even an open air cinema in summer on the rooftop.
MARSEILLE ITINERARY WRAP UP
Marseille is a wonderful city and I hope this guide helps you make the most of 72 hours in it! Take your time, explore all the different parts, and let me know if you have any other recommendations for places to see in Marseille.
We hope that this article has inspired you to visit Marseille, France. If you have any questions about the destination or have your own travel tips to share please leave these in the comments below.
Want to share your own travel tips by guest writing for We Are Travel Girls? Go to our Contribute page for guidelines and to submit your article.
Our Top Places To Stay in Marseille, France
- InterContinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu
- Hotel C2
- La Residence Du Vieux Port
- Find the best price on hotels in Marseille, France
- Sign up to AirBnB with this link and receive US $35 off your first booking
Read More About France
- Once Upon A Time In Colmar, France
- A Fairytale In Alsace, France
- A Surprise South Of France Getaway To Cannes
- 7 Secret Spots To See Off The Beaten Path In Paris
Pin For Later
This website is a free resource and to keep it free for our readers we may use affiliate links in our articles. If you make a purchase via the links on our site you will pay the same price, but we may receive a small percentage which helps us to keep bringing you new and informative travel content every day! Any products we endorse we personally use and love. Please see our Disclosures for more information.