Marseille city breaks line up sky-climbing cliffs, plenty of action on the boat trip front and a hefty book of history.

Marseille city breaks

When it comes to measuring up France’s big cities, Marseille plays second fiddle to Paris. But, because it’s more compact than its big sister, exploring is as easy as peas. The Old Port sits front and centre – it’s one of France’s biggest and busiest and it offers up plenty of boat trips to nearby beaches, cities, and towns. Restaurant-and-bar-wise, most of the action unfolds around the edge of the port. Having said that, the nearby neighbourhood of La Panier is well worth a look, too – it’s the city’s oldest part and it’s choc-a-bloc with history-filled museums.

Coastal calanques

The Calanques National Park is one of Marseille’s most treasured landmarks, and it’s all with very good reason. The park is made up of a collection of 26 calanques – steep cliffs made out of limestone which drop down into the Med’s clear-as-crystal waters. Some have a beach at their base, while others offer a rockier entrance into the sea. Hiking shoes are must-haves if you plan on descending down a cliff path. Or, for an easier ride, catch a boat – plenty of trips set off from the port.

A French first

While it might have missed out on capital-city status, Marseille takes the crown when it comes to experience. It’s France’s oldest city, and its time stamp dates back more than 2,600 years when Greek travellers settled here. The story begins in Le Panier – the hillside neighbourhood that’s perched just above the city’s centre. It feels worlds away from the buzzing port, and its sleepy streets form pathways to cutesy café-lined squares.

At a Glance

  • Climb along the cliffs in Calanques National Park
  • Catch the tourist train to the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica
  • Dig into Marseille’s history with a visit to La Panie