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.

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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 - or you might even rent 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, which is 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, the strip of beaches by the parc Borély (pictured), a short bus ride south of the centre, have restaurants, cafés, a children's playground, carousel and Ferris wheel (in summer), 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 and 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.

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

The Childrens Museum in MarseilleIt 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 designed for school parties, is also 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.

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) and the Maritime Museum in the Bourse (Chamber of Commerce) at the bottom of the Canebière could also all be well worth a look. 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.

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

Ludiq' Land indoor playground, MarseilleYoung football enthusiasts will enjoy a trip to the newly renovated Vélodrome, the home of Olympique de Marseille - though parents will 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.

Just 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 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.

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If you are planning to use 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.

The 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.

The public transport network also offers a "Carte Groupe Quatre Personnes" for four people (which can be either a family or a group of friends) travelling together, which offers a cheaper deal on metro and bus travel. See here for our full guide to how to get around Marseille.

A footnote on dining 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.

Hippopotamus, at 33 quai des Belges, is a chain restaurant aimed at kids but has good food for grown-ups too. It specialises in high-quality meat (Charolais beef burgers are on the menu), but also has limited fish and vegetarian options and offers continuous kitchen service.

Just round the corner at 35 cours Honoré d'Estienne d'Orves is Marseille's edition of the Hard Rock Café.

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.

The 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.

Cours Julien Marseille chldren's playgroundOr try Le Charité Café in 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 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.

 

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