Sitting on the edge of the Mediterranean, Marseille is nothing like Paris, and that's good. With almost constant sunshine, miles of beautiful beaches and a splendid mixture of cultures – the city has a taste you will not find anywhere else in France.
I really did not expect you to fall in love with this city. I only had 48 hours here and planned to rest after ten days without traveling. It is no surprise that I could not resist my urge to explore Marseilles for two days.
Here's how to spend 48 hours in Marseilles, France!
I arrived in Marseilles by train from Avignon and recommended that you do the same if you have the opportunity. The Gare de Marseille-Saint-Charles Train Station is beautiful and has large glass windows with natural light sinking in.
Located above a small hill, the station is connected to the city center by a huge staircase. If you are traveling with lots of luggage, look at the stairs, walk right around the building and you will be on the street level.
Where to stay in Marseille
Hôtel Alex: Alex Hotel is the only three-star boutique hotel in Marseilles. Located near the train station and the airport, it is easy to get here once you arrive.
The hotel is also a few minutes from the Old Port, Mucem and the famous La Panier district.
Inside each room you will find high quality bedding, air conditioning, rain shower, flat-screen TVs, free WiFi and much more. After check-in, head to the lounge 1713, on the rooftop terrace where you can enjoy wine and local dishes.
Breakfast at the Old Port
The Old Port of Marseille is one of the most picturesque parts of the city. The 100-year fish market opens at 8am and is an ideal place to get a light breakfast.
Head to one of the cafes on the edge of the water, order a croissant and café au lait and watch the streams that boil the old wooden boats in a distance.
Visit the Notre Dame de la Garde
After breakfast, take the Petit train to Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde. It is a scenic trip that will take you along a coastal road and passes through the palaces of Palazzo Pharo and the Monastery of St. Victor.
Notre Dame de la Garde is located on the highest point of Marseille and is one of the most iconic symbols of the city. Through them you will find beautiful mosaics, colored marble statues and frescoes depicting ships traveling under the protection of La Bonne Mere.
Make sure you check the timetable for the train to make sure you do not miss it!
Wander around Cours Julien and Parc Longchamp
When you're done, make your way to Parc Longchamp. It is listed as one of France's remarkable gardens by the French Ministry of Culture.
Then head to Cours Julien. It is the Bohemian district of Marseilles and is an ideal place to spend the afternoon.
Explore street art, shop for vinyl records, vintage clothes or handmade gifts. Make sure you enter one of the bars and you will have the traditional French "apéro" drink before dinner.
Dinner at Peron Restaurant
Situated right on the water, Peron is one of the best restaurants in Marseilles for an impressive sunset dinner. It's a popular spot, so book in advance to snag a table overlooking.
Do not leave without trying their signature Bouillabaisse!
Drinks at La Petit Pavillion
If you are looking for a low key atmosphere to book your first day in Marseilles, stop by La Petit Pavillion. It is another incredible sunset in the city and has a great cocktail menu.
Enjoy the sun at the Port du Vallon des Auffes
Start the second day in Marseilles with breakfast at your hotel or in nearby cafes. When you're done, walk to the Port du Vallon des Auffes.
It is a village that looks like Popeye and is right next to the Catalan beach. Bring a towel, sunglasses, bikini together and spend the morning enjoying the sun.
Relax in the warm Mediterranean Sea and grab something to eat in one of the restaurants hanging around the harbor.
Explore La Panier
After lunch, take a stroll to La Panier. It is the oldest neighborhood in Marseilles and is known for cobbled streets, cute vintage shops, street art and historic buildings.
Spend your afternoon wandering around the Vielle Charité. It is a 17th century ministry that has become a cultural center. You will find many museums, cinemas and exhibitions.
Before leaving, climb up the Cathédrale de la Major.
Watch the sunset at La Porte d 'Orient
Grab a local coach and explore further along the coast before the day's end. I recommend that you get to La Porte d 'Orient exactly as the sun begins to descend.
You will be on time to watch the bright light between the statues that have been applied to your hands, creating an epic sunset landscape.
Good food at L 'Epuisette
If you have space in your budget to enjoy an excellent dining experience, you can not go wrong with a table at L 'Epuisette. It serves some of the best bouillabaisses in Marseille and overlooks the fishing harbor of Vallon des Auffes.
Reservations are necessary!
Day trip from Marseille
If you have time, go on a day trip to Calanques. A national park was set up in 2012, stretching from Marseille to La Ciotat.
The park is known for its stunning turquoise waters and limestone rocks.
It is one of the most beautiful national parks in Europe! If you have the opportunity and the weather is quite warm, find somewhere to get in and swim.
I think it's safe to say that I have a small crash in Marseilles. While I did not have to wait a long way from the second largest city in France, I found a way to slip into my heart.
Have you ever been to Marseilles? Do you have any advice? Let us know the following comments!