Old port marseille

5 Things to know before visiting Marseille

This Marseille Travel Essentials lays out all the essential information you need to know in order to plan your trip to one of the most popular destinations in South of France. No matter how frequently you travel, some questions will always need answers: What’s the weather like? How can I get from the airport to my hotel? What currency and type of plug do I need? All these answers plus other basic info about the best time to go, getting there, getting around, and a few useful travel tips are all compiled in this Marseille Travel Essentials list. After reading this, you will be a little more prepared (and excited) for your trip in Marseille!

Related: More posts on France

Marseille basics

  • Primary languages: French
  • Plug types: C, and E
  • Electricity: 220-240 V
  • Currency: Euro (€)
  • International dialling code: +33 4
  • Emergency telephone number: 112

What is the best time to travel to Marseille?

Marseille is claimed to be the sunniest city in France. It has a Mediterranean climate, with mild, humid winters and hot, dry summers. Average temperatures range from 7ºC in winter to 26ºC in summer. The rainiest time of the year is from October to May, with an average of 10-12 rainy days per month. Marseille is pleasant year-round, but the best times to visit are in June and September. The temperatures would be in the 20s (ºC), you’ll avoid the huge tourist crowds of July-August, and enjoy more affordable hotel and flight prices.

How to reach Marseille?

Marseille Provence Airport

Marseille Provence Airport is located in Marignane, 25 km northwest of the city centre. It’s one of the busiest international airports in France and Europe. You’ll find a good range of facilities including restaurants, shops and banking services in Terminal 1. There are several transfer options to reach central Marseille:

  • A taxi to the city centre takes around 30 minutes. Taxi ranks can be found outside the arrivals hall.
  • The airport shuttle bus takes around 25 minutes. The shuttle bus stop can be found on the platform 6, in front of the arrivals hall.
  • The train takes around 25 minutes. From the airport, take the free shuttle bus to the Vitrolles Aeroport Train Station, then the train to Saint-Charles Railway Station in the city centre. It’s the cheapest transfer option from the airport.
  • Car rental agencies can be found opposite Terminal 1 on parking 8.

Saint-Charles Railway Station 

Marseille-Saint-Charles is the main railway station in Marseille. It’s located in the city centre, a stroll away from the Old Port. Opened in 1848, the station is famous for its monumental staircase that you fortunately can avoid by using lifts. There’s a good choice of small eateries and newsstands in the station. 

Marseille to Paris by train takes around 3.5 hours by TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse – High-Speed Train). From the train station, the transfer options to your hotel include bus, metro, tram, taxi and cars for hire.

How to get around Marseille?

The best way to explore Marseille city centre is on foot. The Old Town and adjacent Old Port feature many landmarks and attractions such as Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica, Fort Saint-Jean and many museums. 

For longer journeys, the city’s public transport services provide an affordable and efficient way to discover the city. Bus, metro and tram lines criss-cross Marseille and permit you to go everywhere around the city. Public transport in Marseille is run by the RTM (Régie des Transports de Marseille), which means that its a single ticketing system making our life easier!

  • Single tickets can be purchased at a bus/tram/metro station vending machine, or on the bus. It’s valid for 1 hour on the RTM network.
  • 10-ticket carnets are available.
  • You can also purchase a 24-, 48- or 72-hour Marseille City Pass. It includes limitless use of public transport and free admission or discount to many museums and attractions.
  • Le vélo is a bike-sharing scheme run by the city. Available 24/7 and featuring over 1,000 bikes available in 130 docking stations throughout Marseille, it offers an affordable and healthy way to get around the city. A short subscription is valid for 7 days.

Taxi Travel Tips

  • Taxi ranks can be found at Marseille-Saint-Charles Railway Station and near the main attractions in the city centre. It’s also possible to hail a cab on the street if there’s no rank within 50 metres.
  • The 2 main taxi companies in Marseille are Taxi Radio Marseille (04 91 02 20 20) and Taxis Marseillais (04 91 92 92 92). You can also use their apps to book a taxi.
  • Taxi rates are fixed by the prefecture. 
  • Rates are slightly higher at night and on weekends.
  • Most taxis accept the payment of the fare by credit card.
  • If you do not speak French, a good way to tell the taxi driver where you want to go is by showing him a piece of paper, or your smartphone, with the address of your destination written on it.
  • As usual when travelling abroad, beware of taxi scam and double-check that the meter is on.
  • Taxi apps including Uber, eCab, Taxi Radio Marseille and Les Taxis Marseillais can be used to get around the city.

What are the main annual events in Marseille?

Marseille International Fair

  • What: Held since 1924, Marseille International Fair is one of the most popular events in France. It hosts over 1,000 exhibitors, artisans and artists. Expect to see a wide range of products and sample the many local foods at hand.
  • When: Late September
  • Where: Parc Chanot

Le Marché de Noël du Vieux-Port de Marseille

  • What: This Christmas Village is built in 40 illuminated chalets and offers Marseille soap, mulled wine, waffles, decorations and more. Don’t miss the nearby Foire aux Santons de Marseille (Christmas crèche figurines), held since 1803.
  • When: December
  • Where: Quai de la Fraternité

Fiesta Des Suds

  • What: This 3-day festival celebrates diversity and multiethnic cultures through music. Self-titled “trend lab since 1992” it’s been headlined by artists such as Patti Smith, Youssou N’Dour and Keziah Jones, just to name a few.
  • When: October
  • Where: Docks des Suds

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