Editor’s note: I met Mandy on my first full day in Marseille, and believe you me, she is an awesome tour guide. That’s why I’m so excited she wrote up this walking tour of Marseille for all of us, complete with a Google maps link to keep track! For all of her articles on The Royal Tour, click here. You can also click here for a full guide of all of our Marseille content!
Marseille is probably the best keep secret In France – and possibly all of Europe – in terms of a vacation destination. It has absolutely everything for every type of traveler: plenty of history and museums for a history buff, beaches and delicious weather for a chill out, amazing food, and all sorts of other cool things. I lived in this city for three years and cannot wait to go back for a visit. While I lived there, I used public transport only a handful of times because it is so friendly for walkers and there’s so much beauty everywhere. I tried to encapsulate all my favorite bits into a robust walking tour of Marseille that should last about two hours. See the mapped out itinerary by clicking here.
We will walk past Cathedral Major, right along the sea!
Our tour starts in the neighborhood called le Panier, next to the Musée Vielle Charité. This is my favorite museum in Marseille, and I highly recommend visiting if the opportunity is available. One cool thing about this city is that the first Sunday of every month there’s free entry to the city’s museums. This museum was once a hospice, and the architecture is one of the attractions. Le Panier features many winding pedestrian streets with beautiful street art. We’ll then travel to Cathedral Major which is one of the largest cathedrals in all of France and breathtakingly beautiful, especially considering the Mediterranean provides the backdrop.
Street art in le Panier
We then have the opportunity to walk past MuCEM, a gorgeous museum which integrates the 17th century Fort St. Jean with a modern building that houses a fabulous museum. Even if you don’t go into the museum, the views of the sea while walking around it are absolutely stunning (and it’s a great spot for sunsets). Next, you’ll walk around the famous Vieux Port – literally old port – which some call the heart of the city. I love seeing all the boats docked there!
The Vieux Port
The next stop is Palais du Pharo, a palace built in the nineteenth century that overlooks the sea. This is a good resting point (ideally with a glass of rosé) for up next is the most difficult part of the walk. It is a somewhat arduous incline but definitely worth it for the walk to Notre Dame de la Garde, which can be seen from so many points in the city, and an especially notable landmark if you’ve taken the train or bus into Gare St. Charles, the city’s main station. Built in 1864, it is a fairly new landmark in Marseille, but easily its most famous. The basilica itself is beautiful, but even better is the panoramic view of the city on top of this hill. Walking all around the cathedral and taking pictures could easily suck up a half hour or more of your walk. Once you’ve had enough, you’ll start to descend a different way from whence you came for the last stops.
The spire of Notre Dame de la Garde is the most recognizable point in the city, and can be seen from all over.
The sea is the star of this walking tour and of course this is where I’ll have you end. First, you should stop at the Port d’Orient, a magnificent statue facing the sea. Finally you’ll finish your walking tour at Vallon des Auffres, which is an adorable traditional fishing village featuring cute fishing cabins along the sea. This is where the tour ends and from here you can head back to your hotel, though my personal preference would be to talk another 25 minutes along the coast to la Plage or to Prophète for some sunbathing and swimming.
This tour makes a great introduction to a truly amazing city, and I hope you enjoy it!
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