Hello there! I’m back from a lovely weekend in Marseille, France. This was my first holiday with my family in a very long time. My brother, my sister and I all left home years ago and somehow never got round to organising a family holiday since then. We had lots to celebrate; my sister had her graduation ceremony, it was my brother’s birthday and we also celebrated my birthday, which was earlier in May. It’s also Mother’s Day in France next weekend and I won’t be around so this was my opportunity to give mum a hug in advance.
We had the most wonderful time. The weather was glorious and it was nice to re-visit this part of the South of France. I genuinely can’t remember if I had been to Marseille before. I had definitely been to places nearby like Cassis and I remember some of the Calanques but I don’t think I had been to the city itself. It’s nice. It’s got a very different vibe from Cannes, Nice and Antibes but some of the areas in the city look lovely nonetheless. I won’t be doing a city guide this time, as I haven’t done everything there is to do there. For me, this trip was more about getting some quality time with the fam-bam. But we did explore a little so today, I would love to share with you my 5 favourite things to do in Marseille.
#1 – Drink pastis! Pastis is an anise-flavoured spirit served with water. It’s really popular in the South of France, Marseille in particular. Pretty much any restaurant and bar will have it on their menu but I do recommend Au Petit Nice; they have a great terrace and the atmosphere is very friendly. Did I mention their pastis is £2 a glass? Perfect for the apero!
#2 – Get lost in the picturesque streets of Le Panier. Le Panier is the old town of Marseille. It’s a little bit like Montmartre in Paris with lots of steps, cute streets and lovely squares. But it’s got a more Mediterranean feel to it with pastel-coloured walls, brightly-coloured doors and window blinds, clothing hanging from the windows and interesting shops selling things like boules (to play petanque!), Savons de Marseille (hard soap made from vegetable oils produced around Marseille) and the renowned navettes (orange blossom flavoured biscuits). A great shop for navettes is just at the bottom of the district near the Vieux Port. It’s called Navettes des Accoules. Pick some up on your way back from the Panier as a little treat.
#3 – Gorge yourself on seafood at one of the restaurants by the Vieux Port. Ideally, you’ll want to try a Bouillabaisse (it’s a fish stew). It’s one of the culinary specialties of Marseille but make sure to book ahead of time as it’s usually made for a big group of people and takes a while to prepare. Otherwise try the moules marineres (can’t go wrong with those – a classic!). Personally, I’d recommend looking for the Plat du Jour or the Specials, which are created based on the catch of the day. That’s what I did when we went to this great restaurant just off the harbour called Le Bouchon Provencal. I ordered the monkfish with grilled vegetables. Delicious! Work out an appetite with a walk around the Vieux Port beforehand.
#4 – Spend the afternoon at the Frioul archipelago. The archipelago is composed of 4 islands just off the coast of Marseille and is simply breathtaking. It’s a great place to go to for sunbathing, swimming or going on a hike. To get there, you have take a boat from the Vieux Port. It costs around £10 if I remember well and the trip takes about 30-40 mins. From there you have several beaches and calanques to choose from. Make sure to pack water, sunscreen, a good book and snacks. The shops there aren’t great.
#5 – Explore the Vallon des Auffes. It’s a cute and colourful harbour along Marseille’s southern coastline. It’s very small but truly picture perfect and there is a great walk along the sea, which leads to Malmousque and a few beaches. The views over the sea are stunning! To get to the Vallon, take bus 83 at the Old Port. Then follow the coast to Malmousque, Plage du Prophete (the sandy one), the next beach (can’t remember the name) and then walk all the way to Parc Borely. From there, take the 83 again and then the Metro to go back to the city center. It’s a lot of walking but you wont regret it!
Hope this is helpful! If you’ve been to Marseille before, please do share your experience. What did you enjoy doing the most?
When in Rome