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.

booking.com logoClick here to book a hotel in Provence

 

 

Bear in mind, too, that some "grown-up" activities are perfect for children, in particular the petit train rides on the quaint tourist train through the Old Town (the Panier) or up the hill to Notre Dame de la Garde, and the open-top bus tours. A ride in a tuk tuk or bicycle taxi (for small families!) could be fun too. You might even rent electric bikes or Segways.

Or take a boat trip to the calanques or to the Château d'If and Frioul islands. Get older children to read (or watch) Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo first to fire up their imaginations.

In summer the beach will be a prime destination for kids of all ages. Among the beaches along the Blue Coast to the north-west of Marseille, the best sandy beach for families is the plage du Verdon.

It is very well set up for children, though you will need a car to get there. There is a very large car-park and even this fills up quickly in the hot summer months.

In the inner Marseille area, head for the strip of beaches by the parc Borély, pictured. They are just a short bus ride south of the centre and have restaurants, cafés, a children's playground, a carousel, a skateboarding park and other beaches sports facilities.

Plage Borely, MarseilleA short walk from the beaches, the Parc Borély itself, a very large green area with landscaped gardens, is also a lovely place to walk and play.

It has rowing boats, pedal cars, a children's playground and - for older children - three museums, the Museum of Earthernware, the Museum of Fashion and the Museum of Decorative Arts in the Château Borély.

Further south out of town is La Campagne Pastré, an enormous park with myriad attractions including horse rides and a treetop adventure playground, pictured top left.

The Childrens Museum in MarseilleSeveral museums right in the heart of Marseille are kid-friendly, most obviously the Préau des Accoules Children's Museum in the Old Town.

It has terrific temporary exhibitions, with games, puzzles and organised activities (pictured: a camel from a show on Scheherazade and her One Thousand and One Nights). And, while mainly designed for school parties, it is also very much open to the general public.

For anyone interested in history, the top attraction has to be the splendidly refurbished Musée d'Histoire de Marseille which will be fascinating for older children and has a kids' circuit of educational games for the younger ones.

The adjacent archeological site, the Jardin des Vestiges (included in the price of admission), is a great place to relax and let off steam afterwards.

Also worth a look: the ethnographic museums in the Vieille Charité, the Museum of the Roman Docks, the MuCEM and Fort Saint Jean (all in the Old Town area), the Maritime Museum in the Bourse (Chamber of Commerce) at the bottom of the Canebière and (further out of the centre) the Motorcycle Museum. Click here to read more about these and the other museums of Marseille.

The Natural History Museum and Planetarium, both at the Palais Longchamp, are superb attractions too, and the huge park around the Palais - which contains several playgrounds - is an added bonus when the sun comes out.

Ludiq' Land indoor playground, MarseilleTwo bad weather standbys are Ludiq' Land, a large indoor playground pictured, and the Palais Omnisports, a covered ice-skating and skateboarding sports hall, both on the edge of the city.

Young football enthusiasts will enjoy a trip to the newly renovated Vélodrome, the home of Olympique de Marseille.

Guided tours at certain times of year take you behind the scenes to the players' changing rooms - though prepare to be ambushed in the enormous adjacent shop selling pricey OM merchandise.

As well as the skateboarding parks already mentioned, the La Friche La Belle de Mai urban arts complex near Saint Charles station now has a very large Playground (sic), which also includes a climbing wall and football and basketball spaces.

All these suggestions for things to do with your kids will be enjoyable even if they don't speak French. If they do, many more options will be open, from cooking lessons and guided tours and nature walks to children's theatre.

In fact Marseille has a theatre specially for children, the Théâtre Badaboum on the south side of the Old Port. Obviously, speaking French is a huge advantage here, but many of its shows are based on familiar fairy or folk tales such as Cinderella, Snow White or The Emperor's New Clothes.

It also holds classes in street theatre and circus arts for kids on weekdays. Click here for the website for the Théâtre Badaboum. The Marseille Tourist Office (L'Office de Tourisme) at 11 La Canebière has information about all these as well as about treasure hunts aimed at children.

Its website has a page of ideas for children, and a list of useful contacts: where to hire pushchairs / strollers, car seats for children and cots, where to find a babysitters and where to go if your child has a medical emergency.

At the Tourist Office, you can also pick up a free copy of Idées d'Enfants, a small quarterly magazine with events listings, or view it online. Another good source of information, and in English to boot, is the website Provence Family Holidays.

parc de figuerolles vtt circuitJust across the road from the Tourist Office on the junction of La Canebière and the rue Paradis is a carousel and area where families can rest, picnic and play.

If you want to venture further afield, check our family-friendly section for more ideas within a 40 minutes' drive from Marseille (pictured: the Parc de Figuerolles, near Martigues) and a 40 minutes' drive from Aix (which is to say, still well within striking distance for a day trip). We also have some suggestions for the Avignon region if you want to go even further.

If you are planning to rent a car in Marseille, please consider our comparison search engine for all grades of hire car from Smarts to 4x4s and limousines.

Powered by our affiliate partner, it will instantly compare the current rates on offer from all major suppliers at your chosen location to ensure you get the best deal.

On Marseille's public transport network of buses, trams and metro, you may be able to take advantage of special rates for children and / or family groups, such as its "Carte Groupe Quatre Personnes" for four people (which can be either a family or a group of friends). See here for our full guide to how to get around Marseille.

And the official City Pass, which gives reduced admission to the main sights, discounts at certain stores, petit train rides and unlimited travel on the public transport network, now has a junior version at a cheaper rate.

A footnote on dining out with children in Marseille: French restaurants generally welcome kids and eating out, especially at weekends, is a family affair. A large area of the Old Port was pedestrianised in 2013, which should make eating there both more pleasant and safer for families.

As its logo, a cartoon hippo, hints, Hippopotamus is a chain restaurant aimed at children, with a special kids' menu and gifts and activity books for junior diners. It specialises in high-quality meat (Charolais beef burgers are on the menu), but has imaginative fish and vegetarian options and offers continuous kitchen service.

We've eaten at these restaurants several times in the company of regulars who come there for the excellent (and very reasonably priced) food, sometimes with not a single child in sight! In Marseille there's a branch on the Old Port at 33 quai des Belges.

If you must eat at McDonald's, it has several branches in Marseille, one at Saint Charles station, one near the top of the Canebière, plus a new one on the quai de Rive Neuve on the Old Port.

Cours Julien Marseille chldren's playgroundThe Cours Julien district is extremely family-friendly and the Cours itself is lined with cafés and bars and is pedestrianised with a play area in the middle, pictured.

Or try Le Charité Café in the courtyard of the Vieille Charité for a simple lunch. In summer Le Chalet, in the Jardin du Pharo, a large park overlooking the port, is a good bet too with fabulous views for the adults and plenty of space for kids to run around.

And, just a little out of the centre towards the Palais Longchamp, Pouce is a cafe / tea room / concept store designed for young families, with a play area, leafy garden, workshops for children and more. Unfortunately for tourists though, like many French businesses, it's closed in August.

RELATED ARTICLES

Main Menu