MARSEILLE - FAQ`S
Marseille is serviced by Marseille airport, situated in the Bouches-du-Rhone, Provence region, in the south-east of France about 15 miles from Marseille.
If you have not booked a private transfer with us then you have a few options. Buses, taxis and train(s) connect in less than 30 minutes to the city center. The easiest transfer from the airport to the city center, the St Charles station, is by bus: Navette Marseille Aeroport, offers a direct transfer to the center of Marseille about every 20 minutes. The bus leaves from platform 2 between Hall 1 and Hall ¾ of Terminal 1 (MP1), the journey takes about a half an hour. Prices for the bus are about €8.30 one way, €13.40 return. Tickets can be purchased at the airport ticket counter and through the website.
Bus (Aix-en-Provence) is also another option by bus, but there is no direct train to Aix-en-Provence (the other large city in the vicinity of the airport). Bus line 40 leaves from platform 3 in front of Terminal 1 (MP1) and runs via Terminal 2 (MP2) Gare Zix TGV, Pôle d`activités and Plan d`Aillane to the main bus station of Aix-en-Provence (Gare Routière). Travel time from the airport to the city is about 30 minutes. The large railway station Gare Aix TGV is halfway between Marseille Airport and Aix-en-Provence. The bus leaves every half hour in both directions. The price per ticket is about €8.60 for a single trip and tickets can be purchased at the ticket counter at the airport bus station. From Gare St Charles, the metro can get you to most hotels.
Trains depart from Vitrolles Aéroport Marseille Provence Station, which can be reached with the free Airport Train shuttle bus that runs from platform 3 in front of Terminal 1 (MP1). The bus leaves 20 minutes prior to every scheduled train departure; the short ride takes about 5 minutes. Direct and indirect trains depart from the railway station to the St Charles train station; travel time by train is between 15 - 30 minutes. The cost is about €5.10 and can be purchased at the ticket desk or ticket machines at the airport, or on your smartphone. At Marseille`s main railway station (Marseille Gare St Charles) you can transfer to a city bus or the metro (M1 and M2). There are also three tram lines in Marseille (T1, T2 and T3) of Tramway de Marseille. For more information on train schedules visit: www.marseille-airport.com/access-car-parks/access/trains
A taxi ride from Marseille Airport will cost around €50 (or €60 at night). This is a good option if you have booked on an early flight from Marseille Airport or just prefer to take a taxi to get to the airport.
Car Rentals are also available at Marseille Airport: Hertz, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Europcare and Sixt are all available and open until 11:30 pm every night.
The main train station is Marseille St Charles. It is well-linked to the rest of the city, as the two subway lines and many buses stop there. It is a short walk away from Canebiere and the Old Port. Beware that the station is located on a small hill, if you go to the station by foot, you will have to climb a series of steps that can be difficult to maneuver with heavy pieces of luggage. The metro from St Charles station can get you to most hotels.How do I get around Marseille using Public Transportation?
Marseille offers a good public transportation system consisting of metro, buses and tramways, as well as a little tourist train, the boat shuttle to the Chateau d`If and a trip to Notre Dame de la Garde on the petit train. The Regie des Transports de Marseille RTM, the public transport system, is comprised of 2 underground railway lines (metro), 2 tram lines and 74 bus lines. Tickets for buses and metro can be purchased in cafes, at subway stations, or on the bus. Multi-journey ticket (carte libertes) offers 10 trips for about €13.60; this is the best option if you plan to use public transportation. The number of transfers is unlimited within the one-hour limit between the first boarding and last transfer on all the networks.
Metro tickets allow unlimited transfers onto a bus or tram within one hour of initial use for the base price of about €1.50 but does not include re-entry (1-hour limit) to the Metro. A Daily ticket (carte journee) costs about €5.20, and a 72-hour ticket costs €10.80. Valid for an unlimited number of trips, on the RTM network: bus, Metro, tramway, ferry boat (excluding sea shuttles) and on the Transmetropole network. The metro service runs until 1 am all through the week. Some bus and tram routes run up until about midnight or 1 am.
A Ferry boat crosses the Old Harbor (Vieux Port) every few minutes between the Town Hall and the river Neuve close to Marseille`s iconic Bar de la Marine. The ferry is operated by the RTM (the municipal transport network). There are also other route options and several companies in the Old Port offering boat tours of the Calanque, mini cruise tours, etc.
Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus, Marseille`s HoHo tourist bus, covers a large circuit that takes in most of the main tourist sites. It runs about every 30 minutes throughout the summer (less frequently in the winter months) and has an earphone commentary in eight languages, including English. You can board at any of the 14 stops and buy tickets on the bus itself, at the tourist office, or on the HoHo website, which also has the bus timetables and route map.
The Petit train (little tourist train) is a fun toy-town choo-choo painted vehicle that leaves from the Old Port. It offers two routes: up to Notre Dame de la Garde and through the Panier (Old Town). It is by far the best mode of transport around the steep and narrow streets.
The train to Notre Dame runs every 20 minutes in the summer and every 40 minutes in the winter. The ride lasts around 80 minutes, including a 30 minute stop at the church. The train to the Old Town runs every 30 minutes from April to December only and also takes in the docks, the MuCEM and the huge Terrasses du Port shopping mall.
If you need a taxi in Marseille there is a single number to call: 0811 46 90 90. From this number, you can order a taxi from any one of Marseille`s taxi ranks (the service is offered in English). The two main taxi companies, Taxi Radio Marseille and Taxis Marseillais, both have a smartphone app.
Two additions to Marseille`s streets are the pousse-pousse, an electric-assisted bicycle taxi which accommodates up to three passengers, and the little Asian-style tuk-tuk. Various itineraries are offered, including the Old Town or Panier and commentaries are in French and English. More information on these can be found at the tourist office.
Walking is a great way to see the city and take in the atmosphere. Neighborhoods are easy to navigate on foot. However, unless you are an avid walker, you may want to rely on either the Metro or the tramway to get around.
Marseille Provence Greeters offer free walking tours of the city, organized by theme and hosted by locals. You can also follow a self-guided walking tour to explore the attractions by downloading the `Marseille Map and Walks` app. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to the next. The tourist center also has maps to provide great walking tour options.
There is one-way traffic flow around the Old Port to fit in with the large new pedestrianized area on the quai des Belges. Also, we don`t recommend taking a car in the city center due to its narrow, one-way streets, random lane changes and so on which can make for difficult driving. The local drivers have a reputation for fearlessness and traffic can be dreadful.
There are plenty of parking areas in the city center, though the parking rates are among the highest in France. French car drivers are used to parking anywhere in the city, even double parking. Because of this, it is not recommended to park in the streets. Park your car in one of the car parks in the center.
On Street Parking: Paid parking applies on Monday - Saturday from 9 am - 7 pm (not on Sundays and holidays). In the city center, the maximum parking is 4 hours except for the busy shopping streets where a maximum of 2 hours is permitted. In the rest of the city the maximum duration is 4 hours. Inner city street parking is about €1.50 for the first hour, up to about €8 for 4 hours. Outside the city rates are around €1.50 for the first hour, up to about €6 for 4 hours.
Unlimited parking hours are set to parking garages in the city center. Parking rates in public parking lots start around €1.50 for the first hour, daily maximums at around €15 - €20. For more information on parking lots and hourly fees visit: www.parking-public.fr.
The `le velo` bicycle hire (en.levelo-mpm.fr) allows you to pick up one of the city`s 1,000 rent-a-bikes at one of its 130 bike racks and park it at any of them at the end of your ride. Biking can be rather dangerous in the city because there are basically no cycle paths and the few that are there are usually filled with pedestrians or parked cars. There is a hefty deposit of about €150 which will be charged if you don`t return the bike properly. The rental is quite cheap, about €1 per hour and the first half hour is free.
You will also find various companies offering bicycle, electric bike, electric scooter and Segway rentals and/or guided tours of Marseille on their vehicles.
Marseille has gotten a bad rep over the years, even among the French, but in recent years muggings and pickpockets have dramatically decreased in the city center. However, you will still want to avoid carrying valuables and be aware of your surroundings.
Marseille is an overall safe city. There is some pickpocket-related risk in Marseille. A few simple precautions will minimize your chances of being pickpocketed. As in any touristic place, there may be people trying to scam you, be aware of `gold ring` tricks, fake petitions, groups of teenagers acting strangely or trying to distract you, and people offering help with your luggage.
Most of the northern neighborhoods (quartiers nord), except L`Estaque and Château-Gombert, might be risky and should be avoided by tourists and there is no logical reason for going there.
The area around Boulevard Michelet teems with prostitutes and should be avoided on soccer nights as you can meet potentially angry and drunk Olympique de Marseille hooligans.
When driving a car, make sure the doors are locked. There have been occurrences of motorcyclists opening the doors of cars and quickly snatching bags and valuables from the seats.
The currency of France is the Euro, US dollars are not accepted. The city has ATMs to withdraw cash, and most of the top restaurants, shopping centers, boutiques, hotels, etc. accept credit cards. Also, banks offer the most convenient exchange rates.What is the weather like?
From May - September the weather is nice with good average temperatures. On average, the warmest month is July, about 80°F. The coldest months are December and January at about 45°F. The wettest month is October with July being the driest month.I don`t speak French, will many people speak English?
French is the official language spoken in Marseille. However, the staff of most tourism-related venues (hotels, restaurants) speaks English fluently, and plenty of attractions (museums, guided tours) feature a wide openness to the English speaking public. Quite often people do speak at least a little English. We suggest you get a good English-French guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.What is the food like?
Unsurprisingly, Marseille`s cuisine is focused on fish and seafood. The Marseillans blend the local flavors of Provence, with the sea, and a dash of North-African spices and flavors, giving the traditional Provencal cuisine a unique and exciting twist. Fare is simple but expressed by hearty blends of aromatic herbs. Its specialties being the famous fish broth `bouillabaisse`, a fish-based soup served with larouille (a garlic-saffron sauce) and bread similar to crostini, and `aioli`, a garlic sauce served with vegetables and dried cod. Some other favorites of the area: Moules Mariniere, also known as sailor mussels, served with lots of garlic, onion and herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary, etc.). The pink tinted Cassis white wine is perfect with seafood. Marseille is just west of the wine making regions of Cassis and Bandol, know for light whites and beautiful rose wine. Tapenade, made from capers, anchovies, black olives, garlic and olive oil. Marseille locals enjoy it with an a peritif with croutons or crostini. Pastis, a strong alcoholic (made in Marseille), aniseed flavored drink served with water. It is drunk mostly as a peritif, best enjoyed in the sunshine.
The best seafood can be found around le Vieux Port, in particular around Quai de Rive Neuve. Its streets are lined with restaurants and cafes. You will also find a good selection of restaurants offering simple traditional local fare at reasonable prices in the Le Panier district. Around the lively market square of La Plaine, the characteristic streets provide a wide assortment of traditional restaurants and rustic bars frequented by locals.
As the second largest city in France, Marseille offers some fantastic shopping opportunities. The main shopping streets in the city, the rue Paradis, rue Saint Ferreol and rue de Rome, run off the Canebiere, just to the north of the main tourist office.
Some popular souvenirs to shop for while in Marseille include soap (the famous savon de Marseille) and santons (carved wooden or clay crèche figurines) Pastis (Marseille`s famous cocktail), garlic (a key ingredient in Provencal cooking), and Provencal fabric and pottery.
There are several markets in Marseille. You won`t want to miss the daily fish market on the quai des Belges at the Vieux Port. The scene is lively with local fishermen competing with one another to sell the catch of the day to passers-by. Fresh fish have been sold from the same spot for centuries.
`Les Puces` (flea market) offers something completely different, a cross between a North African bazaar and a car boot sale, one of the liveliest places to check out on a Saturday or Sunday morning (open Tuesday - Saturday 8am - 12pm and Sunday 8:30am - 1pm).
The Center Bourse located just behind the Old Port has an upmarket shopping mall above the underground car park. The shopping center, with over 60 shops spread over 3 floors, offering various kinds of designer label goods - fashion, and health and beauty being the dominant themes.
Opening Hours: Open hours are typically Monday to Saturday 8am - 12pm and 2pm - 7pm, although some remain open at lunch time. Most shops are closed on Sunday.
Note: Value-added tax (VAT) rate is currently 20% in France for standard goods. A reduced rate of 10% applies to restaurants, transport, and certain medical drugs. And a 5.5% tax applies to food, water and non-alcoholic beverages, books, some entertainment events and some domestic personal services.
Marseille offers an energetic live music and club scene. The best areas for nightlife are Place Thiars and Cours Honore-d`Estienne-d`Orves in the Vieux Port, and Cours Julien, a square lined with cafes and bars west of the port.
L`Escale Borely, avenue Pierre Mendes France, is 20 minutes south of the town center (bus #83). Here you`ll find a dozen lively bars and cafes, plus restaurants of every possible ethnicity.
Take Bus #83 from Vieux Port to Plage du Prado and Plage de la Corniche. These are the best beaches for swimming and sunning. The sands are a bit gray and sometimes rocky, but the beaches are wide and the water is generally clear. These beaches are set against a beautiful backdrop of the cliffs of Marseille.What are the special events that take place throughout the year?
Le Defi de Monte-Cristo: Also known as the Monte-Cristo Challenge, inspired by Alexandre Dumas` 19th-century novel, The Count of Monte Cristo. In the story, main character Edmond Dantes escapes from Château d`If by swimming to the French mainland. In late June, hundreds of participants compete in a 3-mile swim, replicating Dantes` swim.
Festival de Marseille: A citywide celebration of music, dance, and arts, is held from mid-June to mid-July.
Septembre en Mer (September at Sea): A celebration of any and everything sea-related, from boating and paddle-boarding to Mediterranean cuisine and an environmentally sound coastline. Festivities take place from late August until early October and conclude with the Vieux Port`s Marine Parade.
Marseille`s Annual Marathon: A marathon, half-marathon and 10km-run each year in September.
Marseille`s 5150 Triathlon (iron man): Centered around the city`s Plages du Prado, the event takes place each year in late July.
Fiesta des Suds: The city`s most popular music festival since its inception in 1992 is held every year in late October. Live acts include famous South American and African bands, as well as international names.
La Foire aux Santons: A picturesque Christmas market held from late November near the Canebiere and Vieux Port. Provence is the home of santons, terracotta figurines used in nativity scenes known a crèches. Some merchants and many churches display impressive crèches of their own.
Emergency dial 112
Hospital Saint Joseph, 26 bd. de Louvain (www.hopital-saint-joseph.fr; tel. 04-91-80-65-00)