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Marseille Walking Tour

The 10 best tourist attractions of Marseille

Marseille, the second largest city in France in terms of population (after the capital Paris) and the first French port, is a multicultural city, lively, sometimes chaotic and disorderly, but definitely authentic and characteristic. Inextricably linked to the sea and its traditions, the largest city in the south of France is a perfect destination for a weekend: there are many things to do in Marseille, especially after the important re-evaluation project that took place in 2013 on the occasion of its designation as European Capital of Culture. Below we will tell you which are the 10 tourist attractions in Marseille not to be missed!

1. Notre-Dame de la Garde Cathedral 

Affectionately called by the citizens of Marseille Bonne-Mére (Good Mother), Notre-Dame de la Garde Cathedral is one of the most important churches in the city.

The church was built in the 19th century and is in Romanesque-Byzantine style. The characteristic that immediately catches the eye is the high bell tower surmounted by a huge statue of Our Lady, visible almost everywhere in the city.

One of the reasons why we recommend you to go here is the magnificent view from the churchyard: we are 150 meters above sea level and the view is incomparable!


2. The Cathedral of Santa Maria Maggiore              

The Cathedral of Marseille is known to the citizens as La Major.

The church was built between 1852 and 1893, inspired by the Byzantine style. Inside the Church, in fact, there are numerous mosaics and, already from the outside, you can see the many high domes.

Attached to the Cathedral, but in a separate building, there is the Antica Major, a church dating back to the second half of 1100.

3. La Vieille Charité

In the old town is another of the most important tourist attractions of Marseille, the Vieille Charité.

This architectural complex, one of the most important in the city, was built in 1640 to house the poor and beggars of Marseille. The structure is made up of four wings of buildings among which the Chapel with its large dome stands out.

Today some of the city’s most important cultural institutions are housed here: the Museum of African, Oceanic and American Arts (M.A.A.O.A), the International Poetry Centre of Marseille (C.I.P.M), the Cinémathèque Le Miroir, the Museum of Mediterranean Archaeology and some rooms for temporary exhibitions.

4. The Le Panier district

La Vieille Charité is in the historic centre of Marseille, in one of its most beautiful districts, Le Panier.

The area is characterized by narrow alleys, facades invaded by laundry, local shops and many shops.

This is also one of the neighborhoods we pass through on our food tour of Marseille. The French city, in fact, boasts a very interesting gastronomic tradition that has developed over the centuries thanks to the many contaminations coming from the port.

Paninesses fris, fried chickpea flour discs, tapenade, croutons covered with a cream of olives, capers and anchovies and Pastis are just some of the good reasons to take part in a food and wine tour in Marseille!


5.  Il Porto Vecchio

A visit to Marseille is not finished until you have visited the Old Port. It is here, in fact, that you will discover all the authentic spirit of this city: among the luxury yachts of the new Marina, for example, the old fish market where every morning the fishermen show off the catch of the day.

From the Old Port of Marseille, a few boats also depart for a tour of the port: a good opportunity to observe the city from a particular point of view.


6. MuCEM

The Musée des civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée (MuCEM) is the only museum in the world dedicated to the civilizations of the Mediterranean basin.

This ambitious project that aims to tell the history and culture of this corner of the world is spread over 45,000 square meters of exhibits, prints, photographs and books.


7. The Corniche

The Corniche is one of the most beautiful streets in Marseille and one of the walks not to be missed during a visit to the city.

This long street stretches from the Old Port of Marseille to the Parc Balnéaire du Prado and was created simply to give work to about 8,000 workers. Its construction, in fact, began in 1848, when unemployment was a growing problem.

Despite some ugly concrete that over the years has sprung up near the promenade, this is one of the tourist attractions of Marseille not to be missed.

8. The Canebière

The main artery of the city was commissioned by Louis XIV who had it inaugurated in 1666. La Canebière experienced its heyday during the Belle Epoque when the department stores, restaurants and fashionable cafés overlooked it.

Today this continues to be the most important shopping street in Marseille.

9. La Cité Radieuse

The Cité Radieuse is a futuristic building designed by Le Corbusier between 1947 and 1951.

The building is more than 165 meters long, 24 meters wide and 56 meters high and houses 337 apartments on 12 floors with shops, kindergarten, hotel, art gallery and a swimming pool on the top floor. In 2016 it was even declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO: a must-see!


10. The If Castle and the Frioul Islands

Finally, the last of Marseille’s attractions is the Frioul archipelago.

Pomègues, Ratonneau, If and Tiboulen are the four islands that make it up.

The most famous of the four is certainly If with its castle. If by chance you have read “The Count of Montecristo” of Dumas, in fact, you will remember that it was here that Dantes was imprisoned together with the abbot Faria.

Every day boats leave from Marseilles to If and the other islands.


We hope that this short guide to 10 best tourist attractions of Marseille will help you organize your trip. We are waiting for you to discover the gastronomy of the city!