Discover the best of Marseilles… without breaking the piggy bank!
Summer holidays are here and we’re all looking to get some sand and sun on a budget. We’ve done a little research for you to offer you some inside information on how to discover the city and see the turquoise waters of the coast without burning a hole in your pocket.
Marseille, a city whose reputation as being a cultural melting pot often precedes it, will be the European Capital of Culture in 2013. It is France’s second largest city and boasts a rich tapestry of history and culture to go with it.
London and Bristol both have daily low-cost direct flights to Marseilles and will land you there in less than two hours. The airport shuttle and shuttle train, which both run all day, will take you to the centre of town in 25 minutes and will only set you back around €8, depending on age.
A city pass for Marseilles offers 1 day (€22) or 2 days (€29) of open access for visits, transport and special deals: access to 12 museums, guided visit of the city and the If Castle, train and boat visits of the Frioul Islands and access on the entire bus, train and tramway network. There is also a brand new shuttle boat which will take you to the Pointe Rouge beaches from the old town and run all day for only €2.50 per ride. You can also get around the city by using Marseilles’s low-cost public bikes.
There are a multitude of guided tours (€7), a hop on, hop off bus tour which will take you to 13 stops across the city (€18) and a number of boat excursions, some of which run all the way up to the Calanques National Park and start at €22 depending on the season.
The Frioul Islands are a group of four islands and are about 4km from the coast. They include the If island on which stands the If Castle and can be accessed by sea shuttle from the Old Port every day.
The Calanques stretch out to 20km and offer great options for sports enthusiasts: sailing, diving, sea kayaking, climbing and hiking. You can access them by boat or by bus. The added bonus of this regional gem is that the park is free to visit!
There are also a variety of museums in Marseilles from cultural to historical to artistic that span centuries and regions – up to you to decide where to head to first.
Vertigo Centre and Vertigo Vieux Port (prices starting at €25 per night): Along a side-street leading down into the Arab quarter, the prizewinning Hotel Vertigo Centre has a range of simply furnished accommodation including deluxe rooms with a private terrace or balcony, and little traditional Marseilles-style cabanons (cabins) with a bedroom, sitting area and kitchenette. There are also standard rooms with twin or double beds and hostel-style shared rooms.
Mama’s Shelter: This quirky modern hotel offers the best amenities for as low as €69 per night per room. Its claim to fame initially comes as being created by the Trigano family, co-founders of Club Med, and designed by Philippe Starck. Located in the centre of town, it organises weekly events such as DJ set nights.
Camping le Jaï: Just north of Marseilles on the Jaï beach, this campsite is close to some of the most beautiful areas on the French coast and will only set you back €18.50 per tent placement for two. You can also rent bungalows for the week starting at €68 per night for four people (not including the car).
To cut costs, why not head to one of Marseilles’s famous markets? Every morning in the Old Port of Marseille, you can explore the famous fish market for the freshest catch. Also, the colourful yet typical market of Capucins which displays exotic fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs will whisk you away to faraway lands. Finally, the Cours Julien hosts an organic farmer’s market every Wednesday.
Every Friday during the summer months, La rue de l’Aïoli, near the Old Port, has its locals propose an Aïoli (typical provençal meal) for just €12.90. For a taste, head over to the Brasserie des Templiers, the Pub Red Eagle and the Massilia Café.
And don’t forget to taste the local delicacy – Bouillabaisse!
For more information on Marseille and how to make the most out of this fascinating city, head on over to its Tourist Office. If you’d like to find out more about the Calanques, why not read our blog article? And last, but certainly not least, we’ve posted some photos for you to get a glimpse at what your next trip could entail in Marseilles. Enjoy!
To see what we got up to on our press trip, have a look at our photo gallery.