We visited Marseille in the autumn month of October. The weather was sunny but uncomfortably windy. There were a number of magnificant landmarks including Port Vieux, Palais Longchamp, Chateau d'If and Notre Dame de la Garde. Getting around the city is relatively easy with the Metro, Tram and Tourist Bus, but hugely disappointed with the dirty streets, street mugging incident on La Canebiere, expensive dining, lack of choices on hotels and basic beach resource. The city has a strong Mediterranean flavour but tinted by the rugged street scenes and often intimidated by groups of men hanging around the main streets apparently praying on their next victim!
we didn't do our research on marseille and just showed up there. Its dirty, there were prostitutes outside of our 'cute' little street. Coming from grand paris to marseille is very dissapointing.
The nicest thing is the train station.
Skip it, go to nice or somewhere else.
Not so good... on Monday only one museum open. Trip from cruise port to town too expensive And, the driver dropped us off about a mile to city center...so we had to pass shops.
Unfortunately the crime rate in Marseille is very high
Bag snatching and the grabbing of necklaces being very prevalent
Their is little to no Police presence and their are no cameras
Police travel around 4 to a car and arrive after crimes have occurred
We have lived here nearly 2 years and have been robbed twice and some friends with us for a few days were also robbed from their car on the Corniche.
The Police I have met do not speak English and they shrug off the situation saying "This is Marseille" " A big city"
The latest figures mentioned I believe 2300 such crimes for the last 3 months and those are the ones reported without the people we have heard about where attempts to grab something have been made
If you come do not wear jewelery and only keep one cc and a little cash on you and ladies have your bag strapped across your chest
Anyone considering a trip to Marseille must be more wary than ever.On a recent 2 day visit we met 3 other people (as well as ourselves) who had been attacked and had bags snatched by youths who escaped on a scooter. These thefts were in broad daylight the earliest at 7pm and in major public areas. Rue Saint Ferreol and Boulevard d' Athenes are major shopping arteries. The police were very good at writing up our incident but there is little sign of them on the streets which are littered with dodgy types.The taxi drivers compound the problem by refusing to take you on short trips and advising that you walk. We did and were robbed within 100metres of the station.
The Belsunce area is near to the tourist areas and the criminals prey on tourists without fear of arrest.
My husband and have twice visited Mareille. The first time, we arrived by train, walked to the harbor, marveling at the lovely vistas, enjoyed lunch at a lovely restaurant, then returned to our hotel in Nice.
Charmed by this visit, we returned a few months later, this time to spend a few days at the Mercure hotel near the water. We were immediately disillusioned of the charm of this city when the cab driver cheated us by overcharging by almost double. Later that afternoon, my husband was accosted in a busy square and his wallet was stolen. It was obvious that the routine used by this thief was well planned and frequently executed. It was performed in full view of many merchants, who, we realize in retrospect, were very aware of the criminal performance and did nothing to warn or help the victim. It almost seems that they were in on the scam and maybe even profited from our misfortune.
When we returned to the hotel, the desk clerk commented that this was very common in this city. Needless to say, we plan to stay far away from Marseille.
Hopefully, our fellow Trip Advisors will learn from our experience and spend their tourist dollars in more pleasant parts of France.
Marseille is not a very beautiful city, but has got nice parts... and the seaside is very close, there is a lot of culture... But it's dangerous by night, lots of criminals!
Mrs D S W
There wasn't enough time to make good use of the opportunities presented by the pass. Most of our time was spent having a wonderful lunch at the Old Port, and buying various soaps, for which Marseille is famous. We wanted to see the Roman docks museum, but did not succeed in finding it! A two -or-three day pass for an extended stay in Marseille would be used more.
Marseille hot, busy and SO different to somewhere like Paris. It has the potential to be a really attractive place if something could be done about the slightly seedy, run down aspect that a lot of it has, not helped by graffitti everywhere and the gangs of young guys hanging around on street corners.
The people seem in the main pleasant, the weather great and underneath the dust and the tattiness of many of its streets there's a lot of interesting history and culture. It's just not immediately apparent to a new visitor to the city.
Everyone has heard that it can be a dangerous town etc. etc. Well while it definitely has a slightly dodgy feel to it I just want to let people know about one thing.....
Roadworks, roadworks, roadworks! Apparently a new tramway system is being installed. But is it necessary to dig up a large part of the city centre simulataneously ?
The Canabiere is affected quite badly with pedestrians been herded closely together due to excavations. Getting to our hotel meant a longish walk with heavy cases as due to the aforementioned roadwork the taxi couldn't actually reach the hotel itself. Crossing the road in the hectic traffic can be a real experience!
I'm a transplant myself. Going back on the last 3 years since I made the move I would say that to settle in Marseille was significantly more challenging than anywhere else I've been.
I don't want to indulge in the smear campaign that commonly targets a city that I love. Marseille's polarizing reputation already makes it very vulnerable to commonplace clichés, so I'm trying to tread lightly here. But to be totally honest I do think that Marseille can indeed be a very stressful environment to navigate, particularly as a newcomer.
I found locals to be short tempered. I've seen so many conflictual but otherwise common situations escalate out of hand in a matter of minutes, over a few unfortunate words or slightly too much of an attitude. I've seen countless occurrences of road rage (it doesn't help that traffic is horrendous). I've seen people get into fistfights over a mad look or the most petty dispute. I've also witnessed a level of incivility, a general lack of curteousness, manners, sense of social facilitation or whatever you want to call it that, in all honesty, I had never seen anywhere else, in France at least.
For that reason my advice would probably be to relax. But really. The more laid back you can be and the more likely your dive into this city is going to be smooth.
This may sound imprecise or even weak, to me keeping my cool has been and still is the number one survival strategy in Marseille's sometimes (often?) hostile jungle.
Sure at the beginning it felt like I was just letting people walk all over me. In many occasions I renounced standing up against general jerkiness and just “let them have it". But at the end of the day it preserved me that much more space, peace of mind and mental energy to actually live my life unbothered.
Lodging: You are usually required to provide a French guarantor, except if you have a long-term contract with a well-known company. I (and most students) get around this by sharing a flat appartager.com.
Neighboorhood: Metro closes at 00:30h, so if nightlife is a priority, you have to live near the centre. 13001 is noisy but lively. 13003 is cheaper, but a 20 min walk from the center, and some sketchy areas. Same goes for 13004. 13002 south is charming, but avoid 13002 north. 13005 is more calm and not very expensive (I'd avoid 'la Timone'). 13006-13008 are much more expensive, but nicer. I find them boring, though. Don't know much about 13011. 13012 seems calm (see /u/gaz3tta below). 13013-13016 are known as "quartiers nords". Usually sketchy and boring. Some calm, cheap, spacious lodgings in certain areas of 13013 (yours truly lives there), but having to ride the early-closing metro for a beer everytime gets old pretty quickly. If you are the quantitative type, look at kelquartier.com for incomes, crime rates, and bars/km2, as well as neighborhood names and descriptions.
Banking: French banks make you jump through hoops before taking your money. Some would not open an account without documents that you only get after living here and working for a company for a few years. La Banque Postale was the more pragmatic one, and within a day, worked with me to get me an account as a pennyless foreign student.
Cell services: look for Free.fr or b-and-you.fr if you want unlimited SMS/ limited internet plans for about 4€/month. But you'll need a bank account and at least a housing contract as proof of address. You can get a prepaid phone for 30€ at a tobacco shop, but ditch it as soon as possible, since they are extremely expensive.
Finally, Marseille is looked down upon by middle-class comfortable people from other cities: it can seem like a hostile city at first (bustling, noisy, not the cleanest), but I've come to love it better than most anywhere I've lived. It's lively, has a killer music scene, the people are down to earth and open, and the sea is all around it.
ps: food: avoid supermarkets. Find fresh and cheap everything in Noailles. Visit the old port fishmarket, or tens of local markets that pop up at different days of the week (cours Julien and Castellane come to mind).
pps: I'm sorry to say this about you, dear Marseille, but: your backpack will get snatched if you're in a touristy area (at a bar's terrace, for example) and don't keep it in your field of view, so, try to avoid that.
We got a reasonable flight deal with Ryanair to Marseille and had read several reviews which were not particularly positive about the city.The city is a vibrant colourful city with a beach within walking distance of our hotel "Grand Tonic" in Vieux Port.If you don't like city holidays you won't like Marseille.There is a great transport system and plenty to do and see.We visited Arles by train for about £20 return which is well worth visiting.Vieux Port is a very touristy centre with loads of cafes bars and restaurants.The Tourist Office was very helpful with advice and pamphlets and I would recommend going there straight away.The hotel was very central and we upgraded to a room with a view of the port which we thought was worthwhile.It was reasonably priced and they seem to do regular offers from about 80 euros a night.Not that cheap but that seems to be what you pay in a big city.The city is bustling from morning to night .Don't be put off by reports of its reputation in the past.There are negatives like the number of beggars and 7 euros for a pint in restaurants.I really enjoyed Marseille and won't hesitate to return
I was so surprised to discover that Marseille is so "un" South of France. Well there aren’t any of those types that frequent the SoF in their flash cars and fancy clothing. No Marseille is just full of normal people living their lives with a smattering of tourists. I mean I didn’t have any flash clothes although I had a few smart items for the evening when the restaurants beckoned. I have an image of a real gritty city with some crime and grime as I call it but initially I saw none of this.
The hotel that had been chosen was on the cornice and was a lure for all the looky looky men, This is my description of Africans trying to sell anything that resembles wooden animals, leather bags, sunglasses or watches. I have a view that as you walk past they are saying “looky_looky”. I am just not going to buy. The first time I ever came across them was in Los Cristianos in the Canaries, then I think we bought something as it looked a real bargain.
The harbour is right opposite the hotel and the rest of the first day is me content sitting with coffee watching the world go by. that sums up my initial view of the city
We were able to use a 49 hour pass for public transportation as well as the Little Train and some museums. The best one was the Museum of the Mediterranean and Marseille.
This was a great deal! It gives you access to everything you want to do and see, lots of parks, museums and cool activities! And the all the public transportation which was a HUGE lifesaver! Marseille is a big town!
Surprised just how nice Marseille is. I had heard it was dirty and run down, but maybe things have improved. The bus driver gave us a really good tour so we saw all along the coast.
City Pass included many transportation choices and museums to see -We chose Chateau d'If by boat. It was fascinating to explore. It had been last used as a prison.! My 14 year old boy loved it..
It was a great experience! We took our two grandsons, while their parents went off on their own. We saw a lot of Marseille and got a good look at the sights of Marseille.
We booked these cute little three wheel cars for a few hours and toured the city. It was fun and crazy. The owner ended up guiding us around town and we all enjoyed the day.
Recently I received a mail from Tripadvisor listing the top European destinations. To my surprise the list was headed by Monte Carlo. Now let's compare this one to Marseille: Marseille has real people with a real life (we just happened to be there during a period of national strikes and a full blown demonstration in front of our hotel), interesting architecture, many sites to visit, great vistas, restaurants, cafes, ... Cassis is nearby as is Aix, so you can venture from Marseille and easily spend a week in the area. After Marseille went on to Monte Carlo, and IMHO none of the above apply.
P.S.: In Marseille enjoy a breakfast in the Sofitel and be blown away by the view across the harbor.
The transport system in Marseille is excellent, trams, buses and metro are fully integrated. A one day pass is 4.75 euros, even better if you are staying longer is the 3 day card for 10 euros. You can get information at the RTM office at the bus station near the Bourse. Tickets are available from machines at Bus, tram and Metro stations.
Marseille, the second largest city in France, is located on the Mediterrean. I visited during the last two weeks of March and found flowers, green grass, leaves on the trees and temperatures in the teens. The city is made for walking - every corner holds a surprise whether a fountain, a historical site or a building that has maintained its beautiful architecture through the ages. The traffic is horrific and never ceasing, the citizens are in love with their cell phones and there are restaurants for every taste and budget. Seafood dishes are recommended and salad nicoise which uses wonderful fruity olive oil in the dressing. Walk to Notre Dame for breathtaking views of the city and the port. Travel by boat to Chateau d'If.
I live in Marseille since my birth.
My first advice would be : be familiar with common transports because they are difficult to understand.
Don’t over-estimate the city’s size, Marseille is quite little and by using main roads you can reach every place you want.
Visit the most important place to be familiar with them : la Préfécture, le Vieux Port, le Parc Borély, le parc Pastré, le Cours Julien, le Cours Lieutaud, la Plaine, le Panier, la Joliette… When you’re in Marseilles, these names SHOULD be associated with a place in your head, and with a metro station/bus station.
After the technical aspect, I would recommend you to be patient, because Marseillais can be real dicks sometimes. I love my city and their people buuut sometimes we’re dicks because traffic is horrible in ALL the city between 4 and 7 PM.
Also, get a motorcycle or if you’re motivated, a bicycle, because car will lead you to lose all your time.
If you’re not used to, don’t go to north neighbours because that’s where the drug trade is.
Also, if you want some weed, go there but with friends and know where you go because sellers are really nice but others…
Eat a Kebab. And a pizza.
Learn french, the fastest you can, there is no Marseillais that speaks english. If you need more adivce, you can ask me, i’m your guy.
Great response. I might add that doing documentation will be very hard in France if you do not speak French. If you are a student it is advisable to live along your bus/metro route (especially if you go to school at Luminy because the bus takes more than 30 minutes during rush hour).
I will add that I am also a foreigner who moved to Marseille and it does have a lot of charm. Before I moved here people said that it was dangerous and ugly, but that reputation is from 20 years ago. Today it is a buseling city with tons of things to do, an awesome area for going out with friends (cours julienne), but there is a lot of trash, so keep that in mind.
Also if you like hiking I suggest you visit Les Calanques as it is a beautiful national park and if you are lucky you will see baby sangliers in summer/fall.
You did ask about the renting tax which the other poster did not talk about. I never knew about it until I was here as my country does it differently. Basically if you rent there will be a tax every 6 months that you have to pay for renting, for me its 400 euros a year. Some places have an agreement where the landlord will pay it, some places make you pay it.
If you have a car I suggest the 13009 and 13008 as they are the nicer areas and you can easily return home after a night of going out with friends.