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Family Things to Do In Marseille, France

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Marseille BasilicaMarseille, France is a bustling metropolis of over a million inhabitants. Not only is it France’s second largest city now, having passed Lyon in the mid-1990’s for second place, but it is also the country’s busiest port of entry. It is considered the New Orleans of France and is alive with activity, culture, and entertainment. Alexandre Dumas referred to the city as “the meeting place of the entire world.”

This ancient city founded by the Greeks was once witness to numerous wars and destruction, but is now a crossroads of global traffic filled with unique sights, smells, and sounds. Despite the appearance of slum areas that have arisen due to rapid population growth, Marseille is still a charming city that is filled with elegance. Especially colorful is the Vieux Port (Old Harbor) which helps to compensate for the dreary industrial docks located nearby.

If you are planning a family vacation, you will not be disappointed with what you find to entertain you in and around this historical city. Once symbolized by danger and intrigue, Marseille is experiencing a renaissance of sorts and is now one of the more popular tourist destinations in Western Europe. Additionally, it is easily accessible by virtue of the improved rail service originating in Paris. Here is a list of recommended family things to do in Marseille.

  • Calanques Marseille-Cassis – tours of the Bay of Marseille.

This is a non-stop 2-hour tour of the harbor that departs from the Vieux Port, travels past a dozen small islands, and explores caves filled with prehistoric engravings and paintings. Your children will be fascinated with the stories your tour guide unfolds about dinosaurs roaming the area in the Cretaceous Period.

  • Marseille Carnival

A colorful combination of festivals, processions, and street fairs that will thrill the entire family. You and your family will enjoy the music as well as the shows performed at the Vieux Port, and the street theater.

  • Centre Fissiaux

Dance, music, and sports classes abound here coupled with a wide array of workshops and a library centered on games. The different classes and workshops involve the whole family so no one gets bored standing and watching the activities that are being conducted.

If museums and cultural destinations are what you are looking for, these are sure to please any traveler and their families:

  • Musée de la Marine et de l’ Ecomomie

This museum contains items that dating back to 16th century France. All of the displays and objects relate to the economic history of Marseille. Models and paintings are included with some of the artifacts.

  • Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires du Terroir Marseillais

The Museum of Marseille is open to the public since the early 1920’s. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations when it comes to seeing what life was really like in the city during the 17th through the 19th centuries.

  • Musee d’Art Contemporian

Marseille’s Art Museum contains contemporary exhibits. Some of the artifacts are permanently on display while others are temporary and travel the museum circuit.

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About the author

Venere Travel Blog writer anita choudhary

Anita Choudhary is a freelance writer and travel blogger based in New Delhi, India. She loves to travel and has traveled extensively in India. Exploring new places, reading and writing are her hobbies.

5 responses to “Family Things to Do In Marseille, France”

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  1. Marion says:
    January 26th, 2009 at 15:52

    Nice post Anita! Marseille is my hometown and If you’re visiting this unique city with the kids I recommend taking the little train tour. Two options are available: a Tour of Old Marseille, which makes you discover the picturesque neighborhood of Le Panier, and a tour to the basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde, which offers splendid views over the city and the Bay of Marseille. More family-friendly attractions in Marseille are boat excursions to the Frioul Archipelago and a visit to the Château d’If fortress (well know for being one of the settings of Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Count of Monte Cristo). The beaches of Le Prado are also worth a visit. This seaside area of Marseille has children’s playgrounds, carousels, bars, restaurants, biking and skating tracks, as well as Marseille’s skateboard bowl. Internationally known for its unique design, this skatepark also also has a skate bowl for children.

  2. Elise says:
    February 14th, 2009 at 21:23

    Hi – great post. We are going to Marseille with two kids (aged 10 and 8) during Carnival week at the end of February. Do you suggest a good, kid-friendly B&B or hotel for us? We won’t have a car so it would be good for us to be centrally located or at least on a major line of public transportion. Thanks in advance – Elise

  3. Tracy in Paris says:
    October 8th, 2009 at 10:46

    We will go to Marseilles soon. How do I find the boat tour of the Calanques? I’ve been looking online, but I’m not finding much info for some reason. I would love to have an inexpensive tour in English if that’s possible! I’ll have my 6 and 8 year old with me.

  4. Marion Cerrato says:
    October 8th, 2009 at 12:30

    Hi Tracy,

    Boat tours of the Calanques are provided by Croisières Marseille Calanques. You can find their ticket office at Quai de la Fraternité, the Old Port bank just opposite the Canebière (Marseille’s main avenue). Here are two useful links to the tour price and timetable pages. Unfortunately, the info are only available in French, but if you send an email to I’m sure you’ll get an answer in English.

    You can choose between two boat tours: “Les 6 Calanques” (2.30 hours, adult: €19, child: €14, family:€58)and “Les 12 Calanques” (3.15 Hours, adult: €25, child: €18, family:€75). An audio guide in English is available onboard. Hiking tours of the Calanques are also available, but your children may be too young for that kind of excursion.

    Enjoy your stay in Marseille! :-)

  5. Shirley says:
    May 12th, 2012 at 16:36

    Hello, need to find out the interesting places to travel with 2 teenagers aged 12 and 14 in Marseiile

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