Our Hotels in Marseille
Browse hotels in Marseille
Vibrant Marseille sits proudly overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, an enticing, multi-ethnic city showcasing a heady mixture of Ancient Greek, Roman, Arabic and Provençal heritage with enormous pride. The capital of the Bouches-du-Rhône département in southern France, it's in the midst of a renaissance kickstarted by the opening of the spectacular Museum of Mediterranean and European Civilisations (MuCEM) – with 2013's award of European City of Culture also helping to bring Marseille to worldwide attention. Today, innovative contemporary architecture on the Mediterranean seafront contrasts with labyrinthine alleys in the photogenic Le Panier district and the grandeur of centuries-old landmarks like the gaily striped Cathédrale La Major or immense Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica. Add the sheltered sandy inlets of Calanques National Parkand the myriad delights of Provençal dining to this vibrant mix, and Marseille is a truly irresistible and charming Côte d'Azur city.
Marseille Walking Tours
Life in Marseille centres on the lively Old Port, guarded by Fort Saint-Jean and the site of a legendary daily fish market. It's also the place where 2,600 years of history collide with the strikingly modern, being home to Norman Foster's mirror-ceilinged, Instagram-ready Ombrière installation, and the standout MuCEM, home to magical collections of artwork and ephemera recounting the story of the Mediterranean from ancient times to the present day.
Many Marseille tourist attractions are walkable from the seafront port, including the steep alleyways of the medieval Le Panierneighbourhood, teeming with art galleries and jewellery shops ranged round the 17th-century Vieille Charité almshouse.
South of the Old Port, wander uphill to the Gothic-era Abbaye Saint-Victor for ravishing views over the harbour. From there, leafy Vauban lanes wind slowly towards the neo-Byzantine Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica, at the city's highest point and crowned by an iconic, gilded statue of the Virgin Mary.
For a glimpse into Marseille's edgy contemporary culture, catch an exhibition at the Friche Belle de Mai, an arts centre in a repurposed tobacco factory. Follow that up with a leisurely stroll through Palais Longchamp's 19th-century water garden on your way to the hip bars on tree-lined Place Jean Jaurès.
One of the best things to do is visit Marseille's beaches. There's sailing off sandy Catalans beach, and families play volleyball, go windsurfing and swim at Marseille's popular Prado beaches, backed by the elegant Corniche Kennedy. However, it's to the east, in the Calanques National Park, that Marseille beaches take on their distinctive local character, revealing tiny sandy and pebble strips tucked into coves backed by towering limestone cliffs and topped by Aleppo pines.
If you'd like to explore some of the beaches near Marseille, we recommend that you escape the crowds by taking a boat trip from the Old Port to the fjord-like calanque beaches at d'En Vau and Port Pin, or enjoy a leisurely lunch in seafront bistros overlooking Calanque de Sormiou.
Another popular day cruise leaves Marseille's port for the Frioul Archipelago, sitting in the Mediterranean Sea 15 minutes off the coastline. On these four craggy islands, Napoleonic forts and the austere 16th-century Château d'If (setting of the prison in Alexandre Dumas's 1844 novel "The Count of Monte Cristo") await exploration on foot, while the beaches of Saint-Estève and Morgiret are lovely swimming and snorkelling spots with pristine turquoise waters.
Dining Out in Marseille
The best Marseille restaurants are rightly famous for their peerless Provençal cuisine, featuring the freshest of seafood, regional produce and of course richly flavoured olive oils. Thanks to its buzzing daily seafood market, the Old Port is surrounded by restaurants and is one of the best places to visit in Marseille for delicious bouillabaisse, the hearty and delicious fish stew that is Provence's signature dish.
Oh-so-cute Mediterranean-side villages like Vallon des Auffes, Bonneveine and Les Goudes are also packed with waterfront brasseries serving bouillabaisse, well as Provençal dishes like ratatouille and pizza-like pissaladière, on their sun-soaked terraces.
But there's also another, multicultural flavour to Marseille cuisine. Graze on delicious Arabic treats, including couscous, spicy merguez sausage and chicken pastilla stuffed with almonds, from stalls in colourful, dynamic Noailles Market. Or pick up African and Indian street snacks in cool Cours Julien bars while admiring the area's vivid, satirical street art.
Further afield, feast on panisse de Marseille chickpea pancakes from waterfront street stalls in the village of L'Estaque, once beloved of Impressionist artists for the quality of its light.
Thanks to its mild climate and well-drained limestone soil, Provence has been producing wines since Greek times, and is now renowned for the superb and intense quality of its rosés. Famous appellations include Côtes de Provence and Bandol, and we recommend that you sample our local wines when dining out in Marseille – but not before you've kicked off a lavish supper with a shot of aniseed-flavoured pastis, the city's classic apéritif.
The Best Marseille Hotels
One of the best areas to stay in Marseille is undoubtedly the Old Port, where our flagship, 5-star Sofitel Marseille Vieux-Port Hotelwith harbour views is in prime position for sightseeing. Its sophisticated amenities include a fitness centre and spa, plus a choice of haute cuisine and brasserie dining on panoramic terraces. If you'd rather be near Marseille beaches, we have hotels by the seaside on the Corniche Kennedy and close to the Calanques National Park. If that's not what you're looking for, there are choices for discriminating travellers throughout the city, from luxury Marseille hotels to family choices with interconnecting rooms, and hotels with coworking spaces if you're in Marseille on business.
Getting to Marseille
Marseille is easy to reach, with Eurostar services arriving at the main Gare de Marseille-Saint-Charles from London, Lyon and Paris as well as other European cities. SNCF trains run from Marseille-Blancarde station to the main destinations along the Côte d'Azur.
The city is also served by national and international flights from Marseille Provence Airport(25 minutes by car) – book an airport hotel if you're coming in late – and is straightforward to access by road, thanks to the tolled autoroutes coming in from Spain, Italy and northern France. It's quick to get around the city too, as the public transport system has métro and tram lines as well as a bus network, all run by RTM.
When to Visit Marseille
Blessed with an equable Mediterranean climate, Marseille has cool winters – when the strong Mistral wind often blows – and hot summers, and welcomes visitors throughout the year. However, perhaps the best time to visit is in spring and early summer, when sunny days and warm sea temperatures lend themselves to Marseille's alfresco lifestyle without peak-season crowds.
What is the best area to stay in Marseille?
For access to major attractions, day-cruise departure points and fabulous seafood restaurants, the Old Port is one of the best areas to stay in Marseille.
Is Marseille expensive to visit?
While certainly not an inexpensive city, Marseille is generally more affordable than other famous Côte d'Azur destinations including Nice, Cannes and Monaco.
Is Marseille good for tourists?
Yes, Marseille has plenty to keep tourists entertained for several days, with state-of-the-art museums, day cruises to offshore islands and secluded calanque beaches to explore. And of course, the city's culinary reputation means there are restaurants for every taste and budget.