A visit to France without seeing Marseille is like going to Italy and missing Rome. Since this is the biggest port of the Mediterranean and also one of the oldest in this part of France, there is plenty to see and do as a tourist and a sailor. A virtual melting pot for all the culture and nationalities that live here, Marseille is thus one of those unique yacht charter France locations that’s worth checking out.
Also called the gateway to Provence, Marseille is famous for being the largest Mediterranean port, the biggest French port and the second largest city in France. It is also a place with an extremely ethnically varied populace. To the visitor’s eyes, the city gets a distinct African or Arab feel thanks to the large number of immigrants from these regions, but it also has a certain charm that can’t be found in other cities along the Cote d’Azur.
Travel & Arrival
Being a major commercial node, the city is serviced by an international airport, Marseilles-Provence, which can be found 30 km from the urban area. This distance is travelled by busses, taxis and trains in less than 30 minutes so tourists should have no problem, no matter where they come from.
The central train station is called Marseille St. Charles which connects with Paris (3 hours), Nice (2 hours) and Brussels (5 hours) via the TGV. There is also an indirect link with Barcelona, via Cerbere.
Arriving by bus is also an option for the budget-minded traveler as Eurolines has connections running from all major European cities and the destination station is right to the central train station.
Numerous highways link Marseille with the rest of France, making it easy for any arriving sailor to drive into town. Though rather expensive, these highways will get you to your destination in 8 hours if coming from Paris, in 2 hours from Nice, a bit over an hour coming from Montpellier, 4 hours from Toulouse and 3 hours from Lyon.
By water, ferry routes link the town to Ajaccio, Bastia, Propriano and some other cities on the French Coast. The harbor is rather big and it also provides access to many boats not just commercial ships.
Avant & Apres Sail
Since the town was built around the old port (Vieux Port) this is the first place your crew should consider visiting with its daily fish auction and also a myriad of galleries, museums and churches compacted in a small area.
And speaking of churches, one any tourist visiting this destination should see is the Notre Dame de la Garde. Then you might want to take your crew to the Musee des Docks romains, the Musee s’Archeologie mediterraneenne, le Cours Julien (a place packed full of bookstores and cafes), la Corniche (a seaside stroll) and the Longchamp Palace on the boulevard with the same name.
Restaurants and cafes can be found all through the city but many sailors choose to dine in the old port where the offer ranges from pizza to the Bouillabaisse, the famous fish stew, which is the local specialty.
Events & Actions
Sunbathing is as everywhere on the Cote d’Azur a favorite pastime and people gather on the Plage des Catalans which is near the city center. Other activities popular with the crowds are diving, sailing, fishing or rock climbing on the fjords (calanques) between Marseille and La Ciotat.
Also, for those who are into football, it’s worth checking out the Stade Velodrome where “Olympique Marseille” entertains the locals on numerous occasions.