Shore Excursion and Port Reviews
A Panoramic View of Marseille From Vas Fort Saint-Jean
Language and Currency
What is Marseille Like?
What is the Weather Like?
Where Does the Ship Dock?
Where is the Shopping?
What is There to Buy?
What is There To Do?
Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?
Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?
A passport is required, but no visa is required for stays less than 90 days.
The official language of France is French, but some English is spoken in many tourist areas. However, very few people in Marseille speak English. The official currency of France is the euro. Dollars are rarely accepted, other than at some souvenir shops and other high profile tourist locations. Even there, euros may be demanded. The best way to obtain euros is by using your ATM card at one of the plentiful ATM machines. Credit Cards (Amex, VISA, MasterCard) are widely accepted, but Traveler's Checks are rarely tendered.
The "Vieux Port", or "Old Harbor"
Over 2,500 years old, Marseille is the oldest city in France. It has a natural sheltered harbor, which is at the very essence of Marseille history. Once the main trading port for all of France, Marseilles ethnic diversity is quite apparent to every visitor. Today, Marseille is a large city with an active port that also offers many sights and great beaches. Marseille is also a great gateway for the district of Provance, France. Aix on Provence is the nearest destination and your cruise will certainly offer tours to Provance as an option and they are wery worthy of your investigation. Also, if you have a private tour of Provance arranged, you can expect a very memorable visit. This review is strictly for the port of Marseille and how to best enjoy it.
Marseille enjoys perfect Mediterranean weather with warm temperatures during the day and temperate nights. Expect summer highs to range in the 70s and 80s, but the prevailing north wind keeps the weather comfortable.
Docked in Marseille, France
The ship docks in the commercial harbor in Marseille and requires one to transfer from the port into the main part of Marseille.
The Splendour of the Seas at Dock (Seen From Fort Saint-Jean)
There will be a transfer from the terminal into the "Vieux Port", or the heart of the old port district and central area of Marseille. Some lines use a service that charges $5 each direction. There are also taxis available for local tours and transfers, as well as a city bus that will take you into town.
Shopping in the Old Port
Right at the port there are several shops offering local crafts and collectibles. Right where the transfer drops you in Vieux Port you will find numerous open air shops next to the fish market. You can find tons of things here that you may be interested in..
Marseille Street Scene
Surrounding the old harbor are many shops offering all types of products. The main shopping street is La Canebiere and offers numerous stores, shops and boutiques, as do several of the side streets.
Marseille offers everything under the sun for shoppers. Around the old harbor you will find tons of items of interest to tourists. Tee shirts, ceramic plates, hats, shells, soaps,
A View of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde from Vieux Port
Without question, a visit to Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde is one of the top attractions of Marseilles. This basilica dominates the entire Marseille area as it is perched on the highest hill in the region and is viewable from just about everywhere. While it is possible to walk to the basilica, most folks find it more expeditious to take one of the local tour buses to gain access to it. Originally Built in the 13th century, the current structure was completed in the late nineteenth century. The views from the basilica are stunning.
The View of Vieux Port from the Entrance to Fort Saint-Jean
Fort Saint-Jean is another site worth a visit. Simply walk along the southern edge of the old harbor until you come to the mouth of the harbor. You will see stairs that lead through the fort entrance. Admission is free and the views are excellent.
Fresh Fish and Eels at the Marseille Fish Market
There are other major sites in Marseille such as several museums, a historic district, the Abby of St. Victor, Vielle Charite and even the Vieuz Port itself is fascinating. Be sure to visit the fish market right at the foot of the old harbor. It is a fascinating display of freshly caught fish and other delights. On the day I was there, there was a farmer selling fresh live snails for making escargot.
While Marseille is known for its excellent beaches (35 miles of them) it is not necessary to negotiate a taxi or rent a car to get to them. In fact, There are two excellent spots within easy walking district of the old part. If you continue walking down the road where the stairs are to gain entrance to Fort Saint-Jean, a ten minute walk will deliver you to the beach pictured above.
The Sundeck at the Petit Pavilion Beach Club
We were looking for a little more seclusion than the beach offered so continued our search for some sunshine and stumbled upon a jewel just a feww hundred yards past the beach itself. Named the Petit Pavilion, this unique beach club offered just about everything one could possibly want.
Swimming at the Petit Pavilion Beach Club
The club was also a dive shop that offered both beach and boat dives and all the equipment you could want. There was also reasonable snorkeling to be had right at the club and its surroundings. One paid a flat rate to enter the club that included lunch and use of the facilities (as well as a lounge chair for sunning). If you wanted a larger lunch, then a credit was given for the amount that you paid that applied tot he restaurant's entire menu. Joanie and I had a fabulous lunch with excellent wine. In fact, we had to make ourselves leave the club, otherwise we were afraid that we would have woken up to see the ship leaving port for the evening. I would highly recommend this club if you are looking for a relaxing day after taking in the sights of Marceille.
While I did not personally experience it, many folks felt that enjoying the bouillabaisse at one of the many restaurants that specialized in its creation, was very memorable. Bouillabaisse was said to have been created here. One agent told me that the place to get the original dish is at Le Four des Navettes. This restaurant goes back to the 1200s and has been serving excellent bouillabaisse continually since then.
Not that I have found. How about you?