What To See: Marseille

This is our guide to the unmissable sights of Marseille, from the Château d'If and Notre Dame de la Garde to the stunning MuCEM and all the other new attractions that transformed the city in 2013 as part of the European Capital of Culture programme.

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Click here to read about the beaches and calanques of Marseille, here to find out more about its elegant old opera house and here for its stunning new Vélodrome football stadium. More suggestions for things to do specifically with children in and around the city are covered in our section on family-friendly Marseille. Click here for practical information to help you enjoy your trip.

Here is an armchair tour of Marseille's main attractions. Click on each image in the gallery or scroll down the page to read more.

marseille-market-smallMarseille's climate and its exuberant character, combined with the sheer quality and variety of Mediterranean produce, make the city a brilliant backdrop for a wide range of street markets.

Aerial view of the Old Port, MarseilleDominated on one side by the Panier (Old Town) and on the other by Notre Dame de la Garde, the Old Port, or Vieux Port, has been the beating heart of Marseille for over 2000 years.

The Chateau d'If, MarseilleMarseille's answer to Alcatraz, this brooding island-fortress-prison has hosted victims of religious persecution, roués, anti-royalists, revolutionaries and Alexandre Dumas père's (fictional) hero, the Count of Monte Cristo.

amphorae history museum marseille smallMarseille's museum and gallery scene has gone through huge changes and it's now among the best in Europe. Here we list the main ones and report on the latest shows.

The Palais Longchamp, MarseilleDespite the name, this is not a palace. It's an extravagant monument to the glory of water and its crucial importance ever since Marseille was founded by the Greeks in 600 BC.

The Madonna of Notre Dame de la Garde, MarseillePart lighthouse, part fortress, part sacred place of pilgrimage, La Bonne Mère (the Good Mother), as Notre Dame de la Garde is universally and affectionately referred to, is the symbol of Marseille.

marseille-old-town-panierMarseille's Panier (Old Town) is full of history. It surges up from the north of the Old Port, its tall, narrow houses draped with washing and criss-crossed by steep cobbled steps.

Saint Charles station, MarseilleAll the romance of the early days of rail still surrounds Marseille's main train station, perched high on a hill to the east of the city centre and linked to it by a magnificent staircase.

L'Estaque town signL'Estaque, a scruffy fishing port north-west of Marseille, has an extraordinary claim to fame: for over half a century, it was a magnet for a series of world-renowned artists.

Treetop adventure playground, MarseilleIf you're in Marseille with small children or with teenagers, you'll have no trouble finding plenty of terrific places in the city for a family day out.

Saint Victor Abbey, MarseilleIn its millennia of history Marseille has accumulated very many churches, of which three are outstanding examples.

Le Corbusier's The Radiant City, MarseilleLe Corbusier's pioneering urban housing experiment is known poetically as the Radiant City, prosaically as the Unité d'Habitation and irreverently by locals as La Maison du Fada (The Madman's House).

Street art in the Cours Julien, MarseillePerched up on a hill, the hip Cours Julien district is beloved of Marseille's "bo-bo" (bourgeois-bohemian) community. It teems with bars, restaurants, theatres and shops with colourful, hand-painted façades.

MuCEM Marseille latticework facadeThe MuCEM (Musée des civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée, or the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations) is Marseille's most dramatic new museum.

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