Marseille, France

Marseille, in Occitan Marselha, is a town in the South-East of France, capital of the Bouches-du-Rhône department and prefecture of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.

In 2017, Marseille was the second largest municipality in France (city-center), with 863,310 inhabitants and the third urban unit with 1,587,537 inhabitants behind Paris and Lyon. Since January 1, 2016, Marseille has hosted the headquarters of the metropolis of Aix-Marseille-Provence, the second most populous in France with 1,873,707 inhabitants. Its urban area is, for its part, the third in France after those of Paris and Lyon with 1,756,296 inhabitants in 2016. These figures make Marseille the largest city in the South of France, in the cultural region of Occitanie as well. than the linguistic area of ​​the langue d'oc.

Oldest city in France founded in the period of Antiquity under the name of Μασσαλία / Massalía) around 600 BC. by sailors and Greek merchants originating in Phocée (today near Izmir in Turkey of Asia), Marseilles is since Antiquity an important port of trade and passage. In particular, it experienced a considerable commercial boom during the colonial period and more particularly during the nineteenth century, becoming a prosperous industrial and trading town.

A legacy of this past, the Grand Port Maritime de Marseille (GPMM) and the maritime economy constitute major centers of regional and national activity and Marseille remains the leading French port, the second Mediterranean port and the fifth European port.

Marseille's openness to the Mediterranean Sea has made it from its origins a cosmopolitan city marked by numerous cultural and economic exchanges with Southern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. It has also been often considered since the seventeenth century, as the “Gateway to the Orient” on the French Mediterranean coast.




Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean
The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (Musée des Civilizations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée, in short: MuCEM) was opened on June 7, 2013[40] as part of Marseille's European Capital of Culture.

Villa Mediterranee
The Villa Méditerranée is located next to the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations. After being closed for several years, it reopened in June 2022 and has since presented a detailed replica of the Cosquer Cave from the nearby Calanques National Park with cave paintings up to 33,000 years old.

Musee Regards de Provence
Also as part of the European Capital of Culture, the Musée Regards de Provence was inaugurated on March 1, 2013 in the former sanitary station of the Port of Marseille. The building was designed by Fernand Pouillon in 1948. The permanent exhibition Mémoire de la Station Sanitaire (Memory of the Sanitary Station) includes a video installation in the steam room and engine room. The current compilations of pictures, drawings, photographs and sculptures present works related to Marseille, Provence and the entire Mediterranean region.

Musée d'Art Contemporain
The Musée d'Art Contemporain (MAC) (Museum of Contemporary Art) presents works by contemporary artists in changing exhibitions, e.g. B. Monographs by Gordon Matta-Clark, Rosemarie Trockel, Dieter Roth, Franz West and Rodney Graham.

Musee des Beaux Arts
After reopening in June 2013, the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts) will focus on paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries. These include works by Italian masters such as Perugino, Guercino, Carracci de Pannini and French artists such as Champaigne, Vouet, Lesueur, Greuze, Vernet, Hubert Robert and David. The Dutchmen Peter Paul Rubens, Jacob Jordaens and Frans Snyders are also represented. The French school of the 19th century is a focal point of the collection. In addition to his masters Courbet, Corot, Daubigny, Millet and Puvis de Chavanne, works by representatives of the Marseille School are shown, including Loubon, Guigou and Ziem. The Inner Voice, a masterpiece by Auguste Rodin that the sculptor bequeathed to the museum, and the busts of celebrities such as Juste Milieu or Ratapoil by Daumier are examples of 19th-century sculpture.

Borely Museum
When the city of Marseille acquired the Borély country estate with its large park in the 8th arrondissement in the late 19th century, it set up an archaeological museum there, which existed until 1989. After extensive renovation work, the castle has been open again since June 15, 2013 as a museum for handicrafts, faience and costume history.

Musée d'Histoire Naturelle
The Musée d'Histoire Naturelle (Natural History Museum) shows zoological and geological exhibitions and, like the Musée des Beaux-Arts, is located in the side wings of the Palais Longchamp (see buildings).

Center de la Vieille Charite
The Center de la Vieille Charité, the former hospital for the poor, houses the Musée d'Archéologie Méditerranéenne (Museum of Mediterranean Archaeology) and the Musée d'arts Africains, Océaniens et Amérindiens (Museum of African, Oceanic and Amerindian Art).

Musée Cantini
Located in the bourgeois 6th arrondissement, the Musée Cantini is based on the legacy of the sculptor Jules Cantini, who also created the marble sculpture on the Place Castellane and who donated the building and its collection to the city in 1916. The collection was expanded through purchases, numerous donations and support from state museums (Musée national d’artmodern, Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Musée National Picasso, Musée d’Orsay) and today it presents fine art of the 20th century. The museum regularly hosts temporary exhibitions of contemporary art.

Musée de la Marine et de l'Economie de Marseille
The Palais de la Bourse (stock exchange), built by Pascal Coste between 1852 and 1860 at the lower part of the Canebière, near the old port, now houses the Musée de la Marine et de l'Economie de Marseille (Museum of Seafaring and Economy). Exhibitions on trade, economy and transport take place there, but the municipal facility also serves to promote the regional economy.

Musée d'Histoire de Marseille
The Musée d'Histoire de Marseille (museum of the history of the city) was opened in 1983 and completely renovated in 2013. It is located in the Center Bourse shopping center next to the Palais de la Bourse near the Old Port. During the construction of the Center Bourse in the 1970s, parts of the ancient port were uncovered, which can be visited in the Jardin des Vestiges next to the museum.

Mediterranean cinema
Since 2011 there has been a film museum at the Château de la Buzine dedicated to Mediterranean cinema.



Notre Dame de la Garde
South of the city center is Notre-Dame de la Garde, designed by Henri-Jacques Espérandieu in neo-Byzantine style and built between 1853 and 1864 on the site of a medieval pilgrimage chapel. It is located on a 147 m high limestone cliff and is the symbol of Marseille next to the Château d'If in front of the port. "La Bonne Mère", as it is popularly known, houses a monumental collection of votive images. From the viewing platforms you have a spectacular view over the city.

Old Port
In the center of the city is the old port, Vieux Port. There is a fish market on the Quai des Belges. About halfway down the route to the Cours Saint-Louis is the Bourse (Palais de la Bourse), which houses the Musée de la Marine et de l’Économie de Marseille. At the Musée des Docks Romains were the docks from the first century AD. The Musée d'Histoire de Marseille is built around some remains of the ancient port. From the Old Port, small transport ships and tourist boats leave for the Frioul Islands, consisting of the islands of Ratonneau, Pomègues and If with the Château d'If. Some ships sail past the Calanques to Cassis, about 15 kilometers away, with Europe's highest cliff.

La Canebiere
The former boulevard La Canebière, which is about one kilometer long, runs north-east from the old port to the Église des Réformés church. The street name comes from the Provençal term Canabiero and refers to the trade in hemp Cannabis sativa. Lined with shops and cafés, the Canebière was once often compared to Paris' Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Since the 1970s, the street has been transformed into a busy street due to the increase in road traffic. Between Cours Belsunce or Cours Saint-Louis and Boulevard Dugommier / Boulevard Garibaldi, decaying or neglected facades predominate.

Quartier du Panier
Located just north of the Old Port in the 2nd arrondissement, the Quartier du Panier is succinctly called “Panier” by locals. It is the site of the first settlement of Marseille. The relatively untouched old core of Marseille begins behind the baroque town hall (Hôtel de ville), which houses the mayor's office (mairie). The city's windmills have stood on the Place des Moulins, one of the two hills of ancient Marseille, since early times. The ground plans of the streets and staircases correspond to a large extent to the Greek period, new houses were built on the plots and walls of the old houses. Today's houses are mostly from the 18th, some from the 16th and 17th centuries. On the other high hill of the ancient city, the Greeks built an agora; today, old bistros line the Place de Lenche on Rue Saint-Pons. The Cathédrale de la Major, built in neo-Byzantine style like Notre-Dame de la Garde, is still in the Panier, also to the west of the Old Port. It was built between 1852 and 1893 and has two domed towers and a 16 meter high crossing dome.

In the 1960s and 1970s, new five-story buildings were built on the Quai du Port. Behind it is another row of residential buildings: Werkbund trailers, a kind of long, tall small-scale design that is expressed in bay-shaped brick appliqués. The actual harbor area used to be there, a branched network of residential buildings from the 17th century, many small alleys and stairs. The Germans who marched into Marseille in November 1942 saw this as an element of uncertainty and a "hoard" for the Resistance. In January 1943, after the so-called "evacuation" of almost 27,000 inhabitants into a prison camp near Fréjus, German troops under the orders of Field Marshal von Rundstedt began to blow up the harbor district (1924 building).

The New Port (Port Moderne) extends behind the Place de la Joliette. The Docks de Marseille located here, 365 meter long warehouses built between 1858 and 1864, were converted into offices, apartments or event venues as part of the Euroméditerranée. Shops and restaurants are located on the ground floor and opened in October 2015.

City radieuse
The first "vertical city" of the Unité d'Habitation type realized by Le Corbusier between 1947 and 1952 as a forerunner of prefabricated buildings. Shopping street, café (of the integrated hotel) and roof terrace (with a view of the mountains surrounding Marseille and the sea) are open to the public; the café and restaurant seems to have been largely preserved in its original condition and illustrates the grid-like modular construction very well.

Parc Borely
Parc Borély is a 17-hectare urban park in southern Marseille. It essentially consists of three parts: The Hippodrome, the avenue with the Chateau Borély and an English garden; It also includes a rose garden, the botanical garden is attached, and the flood plains of the Huveaune connect almost directly with the sea. A variety of leisure activities are possible, especially for children (carousels, Kettcar rental, etc.). The Chateau Borély houses the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, de la Faïence et de la Mode.

Palais du Pharo
The Palais du Pharo is a palace built by Emperor Napoleon III. Palace built for his wife Eugénie. It overlooks the port passage of the Vieux Port and borders the Jardin du Pharo.


Getting here

By plane
Marseille-Provence Airport (aéroport Marseille-Provence, ​IATA: MRS) is located about 15 km north-west of the city in the municipality of Marignane. It is one of the largest airports in southern France. From Marignane Airport you can reach Marseille (Gare Saint-Charles) with an express bus in about 25 minutes (8.50 €).
There are good flight connections to Marignane Airport from Munich, Frankfurt with Lufthansa/Lufthansa City Line and Düsseldorf with Eurowings. In addition, almost every major airport in France is served (connecting flights to Germany via Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg). MRS is also the most important hub for flights to Corsica.

By train
Marseille St. Charles train station is the terminus of the TGV-Méditerranée route, which connects the city with Avignon and Lyon. Paris can be reached in just over three hours (every hour during the day). To the north there are i.a. direct TGV connections to Lille, Brussels, Lyon, Nantes, Rennes, Toulouse (via Avignon-TGV), Le Havre, Frankfurt am Main via Strasbourg and Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle.

To the east, both TGV and conventional long-distance and regional trains run on a route via Aubagne and Bandol to Toulon (here very frequent intervals) and on via Nice and Monaco to Italy (partly direct trains to Ventimiglia). Due to the low train prices in Italy, traveling from southern Germany is often cheaper this way.

There are also hourly regional train connections to Avignon (note: different routes!), sometimes extended to Lyon or even Paris (journey time approx. 12 hours!). The only main line in France runs east-west via Arles and Nimes, which does not go via Paris. There are several daily connections to Montpellier and on to Narbonne-Perpignan (at night also directly to Port Bou in Spain) and Carcassonne- Toulouse-Bordeaux offered.

Finally, there is a comparatively badly served route to Aix-en-Provence (the Cartreize bus is recommended here), which leads from there to the Alps (Gap-Briançon-Grenoble).

The French tariff system is very opaque, so that the cheapest price can usually only be requested. In particular, however, reference should be made to the website of the French railways, where cheap offers (Paris-Marseille from €19, etc.) can be purchased.

By bus
Marseilles bus station is located north of the main train station and now has direct access from the station building. There are bus connections to almost every town in Provence (possibly with a change in Aix-en-Provence), but it should be noted that the last buses leave around 7 p.m. in the evening. Only Aix-en-Provence is served until midnight.

The express bus to the airport leaves from bays 13 and 14 in the bus station, ticket office (English spoken) directly opposite in the main train station.

The French railways, in cooperation with the Regional Council, also carry out bus services, particularly in the direction of Aix and beyond to the Alps. There are also connections to the east (to Nice). The prices are more expensive compared to the train. however, you often get to your destination faster.

Marseille is also connected to the eurolines/Deutsche Touring network, so there are direct connections to Frankfurt and Berlin. Italy, Spain, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia and Morocco also have direct bus connections with Marseille.

On the street
Marseille forms the terminus of the "Autoroute du Soleil" A7, which (starting in Paris as A6) connects Lyon with Valence, Montélimar and Avignon and merges into city traffic at Porte d'Aix at Place Jules Guèsde after 310 km. It is toll-free from Salon-de-Provence.

Just past Marseille-Provence Airport, which you'll pass northbound, there's also an option to join the A55, which is considered less congested and leads directly to the Old Port. If you only want to drive through the city (direction Toulon), it is strongly recommended to use the A55, since two tunnels (Tunnel du Vieux-Port, Tunnel du Prado-Carénage (MAUT!)) lead directly to the following motorway.

In/from Aix-en-Provence you can take the toll-free A51 to the motorway triangle at St. Antoine, where you join the A7 [Attention, there are stationary radar systems here: Tempo 90!].

For trips beyond St. Tropez, despite the more scenic drive along the coast (A50 to Toulon-West, A57 from Toulon-East), we recommend driving via Aix-en-Provence and the A8 towards Fréjus, Cannes, especially in an easterly direction and Nice, otherwise Toulon has to be passed through (no bypass). There is a tunnel under the center to the west.

To the west there is also the toll-free motorway in the direction of Martigues, which becomes a four-lane main road there. It forms the main connection towards the Camargue, Montpellier and Spain (alternatively, you can also drive via Salon and the A8 - subject to a toll and longer).

By boat
From the new port, the Port de la Joliette, there are regular ferries to North Africa (Algiers, Oran, Béjaja, Skikda, Annaba, Tunis, Souuse, Sfax, Bizerte, Tangier), to Corsica (Ajaccio, Bastia, Calvi, Ile-Rousse, Propriano , Porto-Vecchio) and to Sardinia (Porto-Torres, partly via Corsica).

Due to the long journey times and consequently higher prices, the possibility of a land transfer to Toulon or Nice should also be considered when traveling to (East) Corsica. However, (former) islanders benefit from special tariffs, especially from Marseille, which explains the very good connections with the island despite the competition from planes and other ports.

cruise ships
The port has three docking points for ships, where 10 ships can dock at the same time. A description of how to get to the cruise terminal can be found here.

The port of call La Joliette, in close proximity to the city center, was previously reserved for smaller premium-class yachts for stopovers on a holiday trip, but now cruise ships up to a length of 220 meters can also dock. Near the terminal there is the tram and metro station Joliette, as well as bus lines 35, 49 and 55.
The Terminal du Cap Janet for ships up to 220 meters in length as a port of call or port of call.
The Môle Léon Gourret port and its terminal, which can accommodate the largest passenger ships on the quay.


Transport around the city

Local public transport
Marseille has two metro lines and two tram lines, as well as many bus lines that ensure connections to the suburbs and the surrounding area. There is an overview map for metro and tram as a pdf. A German-language description exists here.

- Métro 1 starts in the north-east (La Rose), crosses the city in an arc (serves the main train station "St-Charles" and the old port "Vieux Port", among others), to turn east again and via hospital "La Timone” and the second most important train station “La Blancarde” to “La Fourragère”.

- Métro 2 starts in the north-west (Bougainville) and crosses the city south-east to the station "Sainte-Marguerite Drômel". In particular, it serves the "Joliette" (ferry) port, the "St-Charles" train station and the "Rond-Point du Prado", from which you can reach the city beach at the Prado by bus and the main entrance of the Stade Vélodrome on foot.

Both lines meet in "Castellane" and at the main train station. They run Mon-Thu from approx. 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri-Sun approx. 5 a.m. to midnight.

bus lines
Most of the bus routes depart from the "Centre Bourse" near the old port and from Place de Castellane. The rtm transport company has an information office at the Center Bourse for up-to-date changes. Traffic plan metro, tram and buses

Bus lines 35 (to l'Éstaque), 60 (to the church of Nôtre-Dame-de-la-Garde "Bonne Mère") and 83 (along the Corniche) are particularly interesting for tourists, all of which are direct (from various bus stops!). exit at the old port (not at the Center Bourse!). To get to the calanques, it is advisable to take bus 21 from Center Bourse to the terminus "Luminy" (journey time approx. 45 minutes), bus 20 (from Montrédon, can be reached by bus 19 from Prado) to Callelongue or bus 22 from Prado to the Les Baumettes terminus. From the terminal stations, however, the visitor still has to walk about 1 hour to the sea!

A single journey that can be used on all networks for 60 minutes costs €1.80, and €2.00 from the bus driver. There are also "stripes" (10 trips: €13.60), group tickets for 4 people (€4.90), day tickets (€5.20), 3-day tickets (€10.80), which preferably can be purchased from the machine (when buying on the bus, the money is only accepted after counting it). The tickets are booked on a magnetic card, which means that the ticket is €0.10 more expensive the first time it is booked. Attention: The tickets must be validated at the beginning of each journey, even after a change! They are to be retained for this purpose and kept in a legible condition. (as of May 2018)

For the very cheap weekly and monthly tickets (1 month approx. 43 €) you need a passport photo, an address (write down the hotel address!) and good knowledge of French. "Zones" or "rings" known from Germany do not exist. A single ticket allows 60 minutes of free travel throughout the network. In contrast to Paris, you can change between subways and buses as you like, don't forget to validate your ticket again, this does not count as an additional journey, but if you don't do it, you're doing fare illegally.

By car
Although the car certainly has invaluable advantages, it is worth considering going to Marseille (or the city center) by car:

- The historic center of the city is relatively small and easily explored on foot - Parking pressure is high. Finding a parking space is like winning the lottery - confusing streets (one-way streets!) - risk of theft (especially in the "Quartiers Nord", but also in the city center) - the southern driving style is not for everyone - and last but not least: Marseillais, whether pedestrian or Drivers don't care too much about traffic signs, including traffic lights. So be careful when the traffic light is green!

Conclusion: An invaluable advantage for trips to the Calanques, to l'Éstaque or Provence, for Marseille itself it's more of a millstone.

On foot
City maps are available free of charge in different languages from the Office du Tourisme in the Old Port and also contain some interesting suggestions for visits. Large parts of Marseille (including interesting parts of the city such as the Panier or Noailles) are best explored on foot.

With the (rental) bike
If you are not put off by the sometimes chaotic traffic, you can explore Marseille very well outside of the direct city center area (e.g. for the beach, a visit to the St. Pierre cemetery or the dock district) by bike. Marseille has the well-developed and inexpensive rental bike system Le Vélo. You can take a bike at any station and park it at any other station, the first half hour is even free (as of March 2013). Unfortunately, the only hurdle is the French-speaking navigation at the rental machines (as of March 2013) and a French-speaking telephone hotline.

The bikes are robust and easy to use, the following tips could be heeded:
Choose a bike at the rental stations before booking
Check: Externally OK? Air pressure OK? Actuate both brake handles once: Do you feel a pressure point or maybe a cable has snapped? Can the twist grip of the shifter be actuated? Can the seat post be adjusted (push in the button, then move the seat post)?
A deposit of €150 is announced via the EC card: This is like in Germany with fuel dispensers and describes a maximum. In fact, only the usage fee is charged. In any case, you should keep the receipt.
It goes without saying, as with all other vehicles: Outside the rental station, connect well and, if possible, monitored (lock is attached to the bike). Best of all: simply return it to the next rental station and you won't have any more stress.
When returning, make sure that the machine confirms the return (long beep).
In case of problems for guests who do not speak French, contact the tourist office.

Then the traffic information in addition to above: Drive defensively. Things are colorful, but unlike in Germany, road users rarely insist on their right of way and harass weaker road users (cars against cyclists or pedestrians, cyclists against pedestrians). A cycle path is therefore only a basis for negotiation, it is also used by pedestrians. With respect and communication, cycling in Marseille is great fun!

In a study published in 2005, Marseille was voted one of the least adapted cities in France for the needs of disabled people. From the sights to the metro, hardly anything is equipped.



The La Bourse shopping center is less than a 5-minute walk from the Vieux Port. It is similar in style to an American mall and offers shopping for almost everything imaginable. Among other things, you will find a branch of FNAC with a ticket office.

If you walk up the Canebière from the Vieux Port, after about 500 meters you will find a pedestrian zone on the right, where you will find a large selection of shops.

At the Vieux Port there is a small fish market and a much larger market for souvenirs such as soaps, ceramics, bags and whatever else tourists like to buy.



Marseille has long had a dingy and dangerous reputation among both French and visitors. As far as the city center is concerned, this is no longer the case and taking into account the usual precautions regarding pickpocketing (which is quite common) and the sometimes hectic traffic, Marseille can be visited without any problems during the day.

The suburbs (banlieues), which should be enjoyed with caution, are mostly far away and can be recognized quickly by the proliferating prefab buildings. Tourists should generally avoid these (particularly the northern quarters and the main street Boulevard Michelet in the south), but are not worth seeing anyway - the football station is also here, however.

At night, it is important to move around the busy main streets and to avoid dark, empty alleys - especially around the main train station, it is not uncommon to meet homeless people in front of the graffiti-decorated facades, from whom one should keep a little distance. One should also have respect from football fans of Olympique Marseille, they are often violent.



Basically, you don't have to invest huge sums of money to get an attractive meal in Marseille. There are countless restaurants that offer menus at reasonable prices - less than 10 €, especially at lunchtime (practically as a "bait offer", since the restaurants are hardly frequented at this time). The palette ranges from traditional offerings to Italian and Indian cuisine. The only basic rule: Avoid the seemingly inviting restaurants and bistros right on the Vieux Port! A veritable culinary mass processing of tourists takes place here. It is advisable to orient yourself away from the port and the Canebière and to look for a suitable restaurant in the narrow streets. Even if it often doesn't seem like it, the small, unassuming restaurants usually offer the best cuisine by far.

Bouillabaisse is Marseille's most famous dish. Originally, bouillabaisse is a dish that fishermen used to make with fish they couldn't sell. Over the years, however, the recipe has been refined to such an extent that today bouillabaisse often becomes an expensive luxury dish. The various components of the bouillabaisse are served separately, the fish on a plate and the bouillon in a separate bowl. Everyone can put together fish and bouillon according to their personal taste. The sauces rouille and/or aïoli are served with it, as well as croutons rubbed with garlic.

Navette (cf. French Wikipedia) is a sweet, oblong biscuit from Marseille, which is traditionally flavored with orange, but is now available with different flavors.

Fonfon, 140, Vallon des Auffes. Tel: (0)4 91 52 14 38, Fax: (0)4 91 52 14 16, Email: Excellent but very expensive bouillabaise. This eatery is not only known for the food and the great location on a small bay, but also as a filming location for the crime classic "The French Connection" Open: Open daily for lunch and dinner: 12-13:45 and 19: 15-21:45. Price: Bouillabaise menu 50 euros p.p.
The aniseed liqueur Kristall is now made by the Limiñana brothers with other products in Marseille. The liqueur is made only from aniseed, with no other additives, so it stays white when water is added.



Marseille lies between 0 and 652 m (12 m at the official center of Noailles) in altitude. The 240 square kilometer urban area (more than twice the size of Paris) includes not only the built-up area but also large natural areas, especially mountains. The city is bordered on the west by the Mediterranean Sea, on the north by the Chaîne de l'Estaque and Chaîne de l'Etoile mountains (with the summit of l'Etoile being the highest point in the city), on the east by the Garlaban massif, on the south-east from the Saint-Cyr massif and to the south, the Massif des Calanques, in turn on the Mediterranean.

Due to its location, Marseille has a Mediterranean climate that is very sunny and rarely rains. The reason for this are the often strong winds, especially the Mistral, which is why the climate can sometimes be rough despite the southern location.




The first vestiges of human presence in the Marseillais basin date back to around 60,000 BC (Middle Paleolithic). In the Upper Paleolithic, the Cosquer cave, then not submerged, was occupied between 27,000 and 19,000 before the present. In addition, in June 2005, excavations brought to light the remains of a Neolithic settlement dating back to 6000 BC, near the Saint-Charles station, around rue Bernard du Bois. Fragments of pottery found on the south shore of the Old Port attest to human occupation of the site in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. In the Paleolithic, populations lived in this area, as evidenced by the presence of a habitat on a hillside adjoining the Riaux (watercourse). We ate seafood, the products of hunting and gathering (the caves, numerous, and the surrounding oppida are worthy of interest in Estaque as in Martigues, on the site of La Cloche, or of Verduron).

The cliffs and caves were occupied around the bed of the Riaux (watercourse), vestiges found in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries prove human activity dating from the Magdalenian, that is to say between −17,000 and −10,000 years, period of the hunters. pickers.

Max Escalon de Fonton, archaeologist, discovered cut flint (blades, scrapers), animal bones (ibex, lynx, bear, wolf), a necklace of perforated shells as well as other remains from this period, as well as 'a decorated pottery dated −6,000 years old, and the burial of a teenager in a folded position.

In the Crispine cave in the hills of the Les Riaux district were found “perforated pebbles, a very large hearth, Mesolithic pottery in black earth, small scrapers and many coprolites of canids (fossil excrement).

Caves with intentional burials are little known in the Marseille region. The one called "the Crispine" is difficult to access, because it is currently on a site in decontamination, however in this Nerthe so little studied by archaeologists, Clastrier discovered a deposit of great interest whose objects have been bequeathed at the historical institute of Provence.

This cave is located in the Nerthe range on the property of the Chemical Products Company of Rio Tinto, its average altitude is around 150 m. It almost overlooks the entrance to the tunnel that pierces the mountain at this point and connects Marseille to the Rhône. In the country, this cave is called Crispine or Crispin. This name could come from Christ-Pinis (Christ in the pines), because in 1793, under the Terror, the Catholics secretly went to hear mass there.

The entrance to this cave has an ogival shape. Long used as a sheepfold, a wall pierced with a door partly farmhouse, it measures 17.50 m long and 10 m wide.

Mr. Clastrier would have met an old excavation trench (of unknown origin) (possibly from Marion or Fourrier). Discovery of traces of modern habitation, some bricks, a shepherd's lodge, and in the middle a beautiful square wheel rounded by human labor, some bones, large shells, goat horn.

On his return, Clastrier would have taken steps to obtain authorization to pass through the factories of Rio-Tinto to continue exploration, he would then have discovered a fragment of Neolithic or Ligurian pottery, then in a rather narrow passage, he discovered early flint but also bone debris that would correspond to the local fauna, as well as food and meal scraps, sheep teeth, broken and burnt bones, sea shells, limpets, charred wood and coals . But especially knives, scrapers, primitive tools that would have been used in the Neolithic period. Also human bones. "The sought-after relic I found under my fingers. O, how delicately I dig up a head lying on the right side, the mask is regular, the normal type, the jawbone is missing; four strong teeth remained worn and rounded at the edges; the subject has lived for many years. What a surprise ! Once the head is out, all the underside is burned, then all around this head, half-cooked mixed with black earth, bones of large and medium vertebrae, burned and broken but also vases without crumbs, amulets , objects that belonged to the deceased and thrown there in a funeral ceremony which is unknown to us ”.



Massalia, Greek city
The original topography of the site of the Greek city is still largely visible today, despite the important modifications of the nineteenth century. A promontory surrounded by the sea, the site is dominated by three successive buttes: the Butte Saint-Laurent (26 meters above sea level in 1840), the Butte des Moulins (42 meters) and the Butte des Carmes (about 40 meters).

Foundation of the city: the legend of Gyptis and Protis
The founding of Marseille, which dates back to around 600 BC. J. - C., is the fact of Greek colonists come from Phocée, (today Foça in Turkey); this population was particularly favored by the Phocaeans fleeing the Persian invasions in 546 BC.

The exact conditions of the founding of the city are unknown except for the legend reported by two ancient authors: Justin and Aristotle.

According to Justin, the territory which today forms Marseille was occupied by a tribe of the Ligurians, that of the Ségobriges, which would have settled towards the current Allauch. Two Greek navarchs, Protis and Simos, arrived with their fleet to establish a commercial base in the natural port of Lacydon and participate in the trade in tin and amber. On the day of the arrival of the Greeks, the chief of the Ligurian tribe, Nanos, organized a feast during which his daughter Gyptis had to choose her husband by handing him a cup of water. The Greeks were invited to join in the banquet and the young leader of these, Protis, was chosen, thus sealing the foundation of a new city which he erected on the edges of the horn of Lacydon.

The date of this founding meeting given by various ancient authors is -600, with variations.

If most of the elements of the story come from legend, archaeological discoveries corroborate the presence of Phocaean colonists in Lacydon bay in the sixth century BC.

This myth could however be contradicted by the interpretation of recent excavations on the site of the oppidum of Saint-Blaise. Indeed, according to Jean Chausserie-Laprée, chief heritage curator of the City of Martigues, the archaeological findings published in 2019 could indicate that this oppidum, located on the mouth of the Rhône, about fifty kilometers from the ancient port of Marseile, was the capital of the Ségobriges, and that the Phocaeans had therefore met the Gauls and installed their first fortress there, before founding Marseille.

Evolution of Massalia
Archaeological excavations have revealed the remains of the first traces of Greek habitat directly in contact with virgin soil on the westernmost part of the Butte Saint-Laurent. Very quickly the city grew and extended to the eastern slope of the Butte des Moulins. Finally, it includes the third hill (Carmelites) before the end of the sixth century BC. A last extension during the Hellenistic period allows it to reach an area of ​​approximately 50 hectares, which the city will not exceed before the seventeenth century.

The Greek fortification at the end of the 6th century BC was found at two points in the city: in the Jardin des Vestiges and on the Butte des Carmes, during emergency excavations in the 1980s. A reconstruction took place in the classical Greek period, in the second half of the 4th century BC and, around the middle of the 2nd century BC, the entire fortification is rebuilt in large apparatus of pink limestone. This rampart is still visible in the Jardin des Vestiges.

The interior of the city is divided into blocks, with streets at right angles which constitute coherent sets, adapted to the natural topography of the site. Thus along the shore the tracks have changing axes, while the slopes of mounds are squared in a regular way.

Outside the walls, recent excavations have revealed a cadastral register established at the end of the sixth century BC, as well as the exploitation of clay quarries which was abundantly in the geological substrate (site of the Alcazar); subsequently a culture of vines and probably other plantations develops in the same location. The necropolises are known either by ancient discoveries or by the excavation, in 1990, of the Sainte-Barbe park.


Greek Marseilles experienced strong growth and became a prosperous city, living strong trade relations with Greece, Egypt, Asia Minor then Rome. The city is independent and is administered freely: it is governed by a directory of 15 "first" chosen from among 600 senators (Strabo, IV, 1,5). Three of them had preeminence and most of the executive power.

Marseille is the starting point for the spread of writing among the Gallic peoples, who learned to transcribe their own language into Greek characters and to write their own acts in Greek. It is also probably through Marseille that the first vineyards were introduced into Gaul.

Marseille is then surrounded by an oppida belt, of which we cannot determine whether some acted as protection against those further north, even if the hypothesis was put forward by François Villard: there does not seem to be any ties of belonging. , except for the Mayans whose structure suggests that it housed a garrison, probably Greek. There are many exchanges with them as evidenced by the coins found on the Baoux Roux site, on the other side of the Étoile.

We note:
on the Garlaban: Colline du Château, Peynaou, Ruissatel, the Bec Cornu, the Baou des Gouttes, the Gavots,
on the Regagnas: Le Tonneau, Saint Jacques, Baou de la Gache
on the Étoile: the Cride, the Tête de l'Ost, the Baou Roux, the Mayans (Camp Jussiou), the baou de Saint Marcel and the Collet Redon on the south-eastern slope
on the Estaque range: Verduron (Camp Long?), Teste Negre, la Cloche, followed by others clearly independent and as old if not more, as far as Martigues and beyond.

Marseilles and Rome
At the start of the Second Punic War, Scipio was sent by Rome to protect Massilia, a city ally, the supposed target of Hannibal whom he thought he would find towards the Pyrenees, and thus block his passage by the coast. Hannibal, failed to put the Gallic tribes on his side and his troops are attacked from the Iberian Peninsula, but he is already further north. The tribes of the region of Massilia, future Provincia, allies of Rome, are avoided around the middle of August 218 BC 38,000 infantrymen, 8,000 cavalrymen and 37 elephants could have besieged Massilia who crossed the Rhône four days' march north of Marseille, or at the height of the current village of Caderousse. When Scipio understands his mistake, he lets his troops continue on Iberia but returns to prepare the legions in the Po plain. Massilia is spared.

In 181 BC, the Phocaean Massaliotes and their Hellenic-Celtic Cavares allies from the Cavaillon-Avignon-Orange region called on Rome for help against the Ligurian pirates.

During the third century BC, Marseilles finds itself confronted with the growing power of its Gallic neighbors, in particular of Salyens. To face their threat, the city still calls on its ally Rome, which has become the great Mediterranean power.

The real conquest did not begin until 120 BC, with the military campaign of the Roman proconsul Gaius Sextius Calvinus, who saw part of the oppidda razed to the north of Massilia. But the province does not receive its official status until after the passage of Pompey in the 70s BC Colony to compete with Massillia, Aquae Sextiae (Aix), was founded in 122 BC.


Client of Julius Caesar and Pompey, Marseille refused in -49 to take part in Caesar's civil war, while welcoming Pompey's emissaries. Beaten at sea and besieged by three legions for two months by Caesar and then by his legate Caius Trebonius, the city is taken (Bellum Civile, Book I, 34-36, etc.), deprived of its colonies and must submit to Rome. The Romans attached it to the Narbonnaise province. The remainder of the remaining oppida was then probably razed (La Cloche). At the time of Augustus, the city experienced a new major phase of construction. The agora-forum has been rebuilt as evidenced by the fragments of paving discovered by Fernand Benoit south of the Caves of Saint-Sauveur. The forum is bordered to the west by another large building, the theater, a few steps of which have been preserved to this day in the grounds of the College of the Old Port. Thermal baths are installed along the port: the remains, brought up on Place Villeneuve-Bargemon, are now visible almost in their original location behind the Town Hall.

During the High Empire, the port area is considerable: it extends over the north shore of the Lacydon calanque, follows the port horn (Jardin des Vestiges) whose quay was rebuilt in the Flavian era, and continues at the end of the current Old Port. In this area, the excavations of the Place Général-de-Gaulle have revealed a large stony esplanade which may correspond to developed saltworks. Many dolia warehouses are known; part of one of them has been preserved on the ground floor of the Museum of Roman Docks.

Then, during the Lower Empire, the city seemed to decline slightly, probably in favor of Arles.


Middle Ages and early modern times

879 the place fell to Lower Burgundy. Destroyed by the Saracens, the city was rebuilt in the 10th century and placed under the Vicomtes de Marseille. Between 1216 and 1218 Marseille became an independent republic. But when Charles of Anjou, brother of King Louis IX. of France, Count of Provence, he submitted to Marseille. It is considered certain that the Black Death was brought to Western Europe via Marseille in the 14th century. In 1423 Alfonso V of Aragon conquered and devastated the city. René Count of Provence rebuilt it and after the death of his successor, Count Charles of Maine, it became part of the French crown in 1481. It defended itself against Constable Charles de Bourbon in 1524 and against Emperor Charles V in 1536. During the Huguenot Wars it sided with the Catholic League and was one of the most stubborn of all French cities. In 1575 it was finally handed over to Henry III, which the residents celebrated for a long time with a procession every year. Louis XIV stripped the city of its liberties in 1660, and Marseille has been an ordinary sea and trading city ever since.

Despite strict safety precautions, the plague was brought in by ship in 1720. By spring 1721, 35,000 people died here in the last major eruption. The Paris government sent troops to seal off the city. A guarded wall 27 kilometers long was built south of Mont Ventoux. Nevertheless, around 85,000 people died in Languedoc and Provence. In connection with this serious epidemic, the king appointed a military commandership, a "plague police", to the city councilors to get the situation under control. The city thus had a double lead. The urban area has been divided into different areas to ensure surveillance and reduce the risk of contamination.

The people of Marseille have always been proud and independent and known throughout the country for their willingness to rebel against the authorities and the king. In 1792, for example, the city sent 500 volunteer fighters to support the new government during the French Revolution. The song sung by the Marseille fighters in the streets of Paris became known as the Marseillaise. On July 14, 1795, the Marseillaise became the French national anthem.


Modern times

In the 19th century, Marseille grew to become France's most important port, mainly due to French colonization in Africa and Indochina. The development and importance of the port increased with the start of industrialization and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.

On March 23, 1871, with the help of the city police (den gardes civiques), the crowd took the prefecture building. Following the example of Paris, a commune was set up in Marseille under the direction of Gaston Crémieux, which demanded local political autonomy and decentralization, but was overthrown on April 5 of the same year when troops led by General Henri Espivent de La Villesboisnet in Marseille invaded and killed 150 people under the battle cry "Long live Jesus, long live the Sacred Heart!" 30 people were killed on the part of the government troops.

From April to November 1922, the Exposition Nationale Coloniale took place in Marseille. The authorities' decision to allow the Colonial Show to take place in Casablanca in France métropolitaine after it was first held in 1915 served to justify France's colonial policy.

On October 9, 1934, the Yugoslav King Alexander I and the French Foreign Minister Louis Barthou were killed in front of the stock exchange by an assassin from the Croatian nationalist Ustasha movement. In the interwar period, criminal networks of the Corsican mafia gained influence in local politics. The extent of corruption was evident in the fire at the Nouvelles Galeries department store on October 28, 1938, in which the municipal fire brigade failed and 73 people died. The mayor had to resign and Prime Minister Édouard Daladier placed Marseille under central government administration. This affair also became synonymous with the moral depravity of the political elite in the final years of the Third Republic.

After the French armed forces surrendered to the Wehrmacht during World War II, Marseille was part of the free zone administered by the Vichy regime. Although the Vichy regime undertook in the armistice agreement to extradite emigrants living in its sphere of influence at the request of the occupying power, Marseille became the destination of thousands of refugees from the German Reich living in France, who wanted to leave Europe as quickly as possible, also because of the many consulates located here wanted to leave for overseas. However, since the legal means of escape were often shattered, Marseille was both a place of refuge and a trap for many refugees, from which it was possible to escape despite a wide range of help from aid committees and organizations - Quakers, Unitarian Service Committee, Emergency Rescue Committee and others, but also from people like Lisa and Hans Fittko, Yvette Prost-Leonhard, Varian Fry or Gilberto Bosques - there was hardly any escape. Those who had to stay were threatened with the internment camps in and around Marseille as so-called “enemy aliens” and, at the latest from 1942, if they were Jews, they were threatened with deportation to the German extermination camps.

Between November 1942 and August 1944 (Operation Dragoon) Marseille was occupied by German troops. In January and February 1943, on Himmler's orders, a large part of the historic old town (Vieux Port) was blown up by Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS troops with the participation of Rolf Mühler and Günter Hellwing. 27,000 residents were forcibly relocated from the old town, which the occupying power considered a stronghold of the Resistance (Himmler had demanded 100,000 deportees). 1,640 residents of the city, including around 800 Jews, were identified as "undesirable and anti-social elements" and later deported to Reich territory or Poland and mostly murdered. Buildings were destroyed when the old town was blown up in 1924. Some of the perpetrators were arrested in 1954 in the trials against Mühler et al. and against Carl Oberg et al. accused of these war crimes, many were sentenced to death in absentia without the French judiciary being able to get hold of them: the Federal Republic of Germany did not extradite them and did not indict them themselves. This war crime was never atoned for.

In the first quarter of 1944, Hitler designated all the important port cities in the west, including Marseille, as “fortresses”.

On May 27, 1944, American bombers attacked the German military installations in Marseille. On August 28, after a week of fighting, the German occupiers surrendered to the troops of Free France.

The defenders did not fight as fanatically as required, for example, in orders from the Wehrmacht High Command of February 1944 on the defense of fortresses. It was ordered to fight "to the last man" and not to capitulate.



In the strong economic boom of the post-war period (trentes glorieuses), the city continued to grow and after Algeria gained independence in 1962, tens of thousands of Algerian French (pieds-noirs), who had to leave the country, settled in Marseille. For this purpose, housing estates were built in the north of the city. Since the 1970s, there have been significant problems with the simultaneous decline of traditional industries due to structural change, uncontrolled immigration, increasing crime, pollution and growing traffic. In 1973, a wave of racist riots against Algerian immigrants killed up to 100 people and shocked the French public. Marseille lost 10 percent of its population within ten years due to emigration, e.g. to the suburbs where the wealthier residents settled. During this time, the mayors made great efforts to deal with crime, the large number of illegal immigrants from North Africa and the decay of the city. Young people from the city's social hotspots founded French hip-hop in the 1980s.

The image of the city has been slowly changing since the 1990s. With the urban renewal project Euromediterrannée, large state funds were invested in the Marseille economy. Old industrial buildings were dedicated to cultural purposes, and private investors such as the American pension fund Lone Star were involved in the project to upgrade the Rue de la République boulevard, which was created during the Second Empire, as part of an urban development. The city is making great efforts to beautify the cityscape, but at the same time faces criticism that gentrification is driving the less affluent city dwellers out of the center.



Development of the population

As France's "Gateway to the Mediterranean", Marseille is shaped by immigrants like hardly any other city besides Paris. In the period around 1900, these were mainly Italians, after the Second World War, European-born Algerian French (pieds-noirs, in English "black feet") and residents of the former French colonies in Africa were added. The proportion of foreigners today is around 10 percent, and the proportion of migrants is around 40 percent overall. If previous immigration movements are included, 90 percent of the population have ancestors who are not from France. About every tenth resident of Marseille has ancestors who come from the Comoros. Since the decolonization of the Comoros, Marseille has been a central migration destination for people from there.


Religious life

In addition to Christian communities, especially the Catholic Church (Marseille is the seat of an archdiocese), Judaism and Islam play an important role in the city. Around 30 to 40 percent of Marseille's population is of Muslim descent, most of whom live in the poorer neighborhoods to the north of the city, the 3rd, 2nd, 1st, 13th, 14th and 15th arrondissements. One of the most important figures in Islam in France, Soheib Bencheikh, Grand Mufti of France, represents a liberal form of Islam. Recently, fundamentalist currents have also gained influence.

With around 75,000 Jews, Marseille has the most important Jewish community outside of Israel on the Mediterranean coast. Around 5,000 people pray in the 44 synagogues in Marseille every day. The largest and most important synagogue is the Great Synagogue (Grande synagogue de Marseille), which is located in the 6th arrondissement. There are 20 Jewish study centers, 17 Jewish schools, a Bet Din and in 2013 48 rabbis were employed.



Drug-related crime plays a major role, especially in the northern residential areas. Marseille has been shaped by immigration from the Maghreb since the 1950s; many of the immigrants are poor, unemployed or only find work in the informal economy. Traditional sectors such as shipbuilding and heavy industry now offer fewer jobs than they used to (de-industrialization, rationalization). The drug trade often secures an income. The cohesion within and between the immigrant groups has become more fragile, there is a lack of a social structure, which encourages crime. As of 2007, 350 police positions have been eliminated. From 2012 to 2019, the number of police officers rose again from 220 to 450. Since 2018, work has also started on setting up a video surveillance system. The city police now monitor public squares in the city center around the clock with around 1,600 video cameras (as of around 2021).


Neglected housing

On November 5, 2018, two dilapidated apartment buildings collapsed on Rue d'Aubagne in the central district of Noailles, killing eight people. This brought a long-standing problem to the attention of a broader public. The increased controls and reports that followed led to the evacuation of 370 buildings, affecting 3,000 people.

A December 2019 report by the "National High Committee for the Housing of Disadvantaged Persons" (Haut Comité pour le Logement des Personnes Défavorisées) on the housing crisis in Marseille states:

« Malgré des alertes données de toute part depuis de nombreuses années, les acteurs publics n'ont Jamaica mis en œuvre une politique permettant de traiter les 40 000 logements indignes et d'assurer le droit au logement des 100 000 personnes y habitant. »

"Despite the warnings voiced by all sides for years, political actors have never pursued policies that would have allowed the 40,000 unworthy homes to be dealt with and to guarantee the right to housing for the 100,000 people who live in them."



The Marseille International Fair (Foire Internationale de Marseille) has been held annually since 1924, by its own account the second largest fair in France, at the end of September/beginning of October at the Parc Chanot exhibition center near the Rond-Point du Prado.

The world's largest pétanque tournament, the Mondial La Marseillaise à Pétanque, takes place in Marseille every year. In 2006, for example, 4,112 teams with 12,336 players took part.

Since 1979, Marseille has been the starting point of Marseille – Cassis, one of the most popular road races in France, on the last Sunday in October.

In 2010, Marseille was elected European Capital of Culture 2013. To this end, several parts of the city have been extensively restored and restructured. In 2012, the sixth World Water Forum was held in Marseille, since Marseille has been the World Water Capital since 1996.

In 2013, the world music festival Babel Med Music took place for the ninth time in the Docks des Suds with an extensive congress and trade fair program and numerous concerts.



In addition to the typical French chansons, Marseille is above all a constant in French hip-hop. In the mid-1980s, groups like IAM began to get young people from immigrant families enthusiastic about the new style of music. Today, thanks in large part to Marseille artists, the French hip-hop market is the second largest in the world after that of the United States.


Natural monuments

In April 2012, the Parc National des Calanques was officially inaugurated. The national park extends from Marseille to six other communities and serves to protect the Calanques, the coastal limestone mountains including the shore area. In the core zone it covers an area of around 11,200 hectares of land and 78,000 hectares of lake, in the edge zone around 34,000 hectares of land and 145,000 hectares of lake. The protection concept includes an elaborate visitor guide through the installation of marked hiking trails and a strict ban on entering in the event of a forest fire.



Marseille was one of the venues for Rugby World Cup 2007. Rugby World Cup 2023 is scheduled to host matches again in Marseille.

The Mondial la Marseillaise à Pétanque takes place every year on the first weekend in July.

Olympique de Marseille
Olympique Marseille was founded in 1899 and is a very successful football club both nationally and internationally. The home games are played in the 67,000-seat Stade Vélodrome. The club colors are white and azure blue.

Previous achievements:
9× French Champion: 1937, 1948, 1971, 1972, 1989, 1990–1992, 2010
10× French Cup winners: 1924, 1926, 1927, 1935, 1938, 1943, 1969, 1972, 1976, 1989
2× European Cups: Champions League Winner 1993 and Intertoto Cup Winner 2005
3× French League Cup: 2010–2012

Mondial la Marseillaise a pétanque
The world's largest pétanque tournament, the Mondial la Marseillaise à pétanque, takes place in Marseille every year. It is a tournament open to all pétanque players. A license is not required to participate. In 2006, for example, there were 4,112 Équipes (teams) with 12,336 players at the start. It will be held in Parc Borély, not far from the beach, and the adjacent areas, with the final always taking place at the Old Port. Before this tournament, the annual Jeu Provençal championships also take place in Parc Borely. This is the old, historical version of the Boule (Pétanque) game that originated in Provence. Here, too, thousands of players take part, but naturally they come from the southern region (France).

Economy and regional competences
Significant branches of industry are the vehicle, machine, metal and food industries. Marseille has an important seaport, the Marseille Europort. The shipowner CMA CGM has its headquarters in Tour CMA CGM.

Marseille is also a focal point in the artisanal manufacture of santons. 35 manufacturers (out of 200 in Provence) live in Marseille. At Christmas time, a market dedicated almost exclusively to this theme takes place on the Canebière. Les Baumettes prison is located in Marseille.

The most important newspaper is La Provence.



Proportion of means of transport
In 2019/20, the various means of transport had the following shares of total traffic (modal split): private motor vehicle traffic: 40% (−4% compared to 2009), pedestrian traffic 39% (+2%), public transport 17% (+3%), motorcycle 3 % (unchanged), bicycle 1% (+0.5%), other 1%.

Long-distance railway and freight transport
Marseille can be reached via the Méditerranée high-speed line, which went into operation in 2001, by TGV in about three hours from Paris (Gare de Lyon), which is 750 km away. Located on a hill, the Saint-Charles terminal station was opened on January 8, 1848 and has since been expanded to 16 tracks; it forms the central transport hub of the city. In addition to the TGV trains, there are also numerous long-distance and regional trains. Since March 2012 there has been a daily direct connection to and from Frankfurt am Main. The journey time is just under eight hours, and a pair of Thalys trains runs to Amsterdam in the summer months.

Between Marseille and Avignon, near Miramas, is the railway junction with marshalling yard, via which Marseille, an industrial conurbation and with the largest European port on the Mediterranean, is connected to the rail freight network.

road traffic
The toll road tunnel Saint-Laurent or Tunnel du Vieux-Port runs under the southern old town and the Vieux-Port. The motorways coming from the north are connected to the east bypass of Marseille via another tunnel (Viaduc de Plombières). A tunnel will connect the Marseille–Lyon and Marseille–Toulon motorways.

Heavy traffic is a big problem. Marseille is the city with the most traffic jams in France.



The means of public transport in Marseille are operated by the Régie des Transports Marseillais (RTM).


Metro and tram

The Marseille Metro, opened in 1977 and later extended and upgraded several times, has two lines. These intersect twice, at Castellane station and at Saint Charles main station. The route runs in tunnels in the inner city, outside of the city the trains run on the surface or as elevated railways on pillars. The cars have air-filled, rail-guided tires with power supply via power rails. The model here was the Paris Metro.

In the mid-1990s, the increasing volume of traffic in Marseille led to the idea of reintroducing the tram, which had disappeared from the cityscape. Until then, the tram was frowned upon and was considered outdated and uncomfortable, since the previously numerous routes that had existed since 1876 had been discontinued from the middle of the 20th century, except for one line. The decision was made to renovate the existing route and to build new ones. Since July 2007, the first of what are now three new tram lines has been in operation on the Euroméditerranée – Les Caillols section. The vehicles for this were produced from 2006 in Vienna by Bombardier Transportation Austria. The trams were commissioned on the Wiener Linien test track.


Bus transport

There are over 80 urban bus lines in Marseille. As is typical for France, they operate in the evenings and on Sundays according to a significantly reduced timetable. The Calanques can also be reached with the urban lines. Other lines offer connections to the surrounding area, including the coastal region with other destinations in the Calanques.

Since June 2016, bus route 82 has been operated with battery buses: the six Irizar i2e buses used have a transport capacity of 77 people each.


Air traffic

Marseille Airport (French: Aéroport Marseille Provence), which is important for southern France because it is centrally located, is located 20 kilometers north-west of Marseille and south-east of the Étang de Berre near the town of Marignane. It is served by numerous international airlines, including several German airports.


Ship traffic

The port of Marseille is located in the Port Moderne docks, which were built in 1844. It is one of the main ports for travelers to the Maghreb and Corsica. Several routes of the companies Corsica Linea (formerly SNCM) and La Méridionale connect Marseille with Ajaccio and Bastia on a daily basis; Ile Rousse, Propriano (partly with onward journey to Porto Torres on Sardinia) and Porto-Vecchio are called at several times a week. All year round there are weekly ferry connections with Corsica Linea and Tunisia Ferries to Tunis and with Corsica Linea and Algérie Ferries to Algiers and Oran. Less frequently, Skikda and Annaba are also called at.

The port facilities of Marseille Europort, which are much more important for freight traffic, are located e.g. in Fos-sur-Mer, about 50 kilometers to the west. A total of around 81 million tons of goods were handled here in 2016, 12.9 million tons of which were bulk goods. The number of containers handled in 2017 was 1.4 million TEU. Due to the closure of a Total refinery, liquid cargo throughput in the Westhafen fell to 46.5 million tons.


Bicycle traffic

In 2007, the public bicycle rental Le Vélo was installed, through which bicycles can be rented with an EC or credit card or by registering with the municipal provider. According to him, the stations are no more than five hundred meters apart and are mainly spread across the core of the city and on streets leading to the city centre. Around 1000 bicycles are available at 130 stations. The system works like Vélib' in Paris, but the tariffs are cheaper: the 7-day subscription costs 1 euro, the annual subscription 5 euros, the first half hour is free, each additional hour 1 euro, with an annual subscription 0.50 euros . The offer supports the urban planning focus on the expansion of bicycle traffic with wide cycle paths, especially along the arterial roads and in the new dock district at the port.


Metropolitan trail

As part of the 2013 Capital of Culture region, a so-called metropolitan hiking trail, the European long-distance hiking trail GR 2013, was set up. It leads through the city, its suburbs and its periphery. The path is intended to enable the population to explore all parts of the city on foot - including the otherwise little-used peripheral areas.