Some believe that Marseille, France does not have nice beaches. This is untrue! Since Vieux Port is such a popular central visit location for the area, and there are no beaches there (it is a port), this rumor still reigns and many miss out on the beauty that Marseille beaches provide. In fact, most skip out on Marseille beaches and head east to Nice. While Nice is its own amazing visit, skipping out on Marseille’s Beaches can mean missing some very cool local experiences. Marseille, France is known for its eclectic mixture of African flare in the South of France. While a walk through the markets of downtown Marseille is a must-do, save room for a beach stroll or two. Even if you stay in Vieux Port, you can get to the beach in minutes (Yes! Minutes!). In fact, you can choose a beach along Marseille’s coastline that fits your vacation type and personality. Just check out the guide below with recommendations for your personality type.
I would describe myself as the…
Marseille most righteously has the beach for you! Along some of Marseille’s southern coastline, you can find areas to get the adrenaline pumping. Why is it adventurous? The rocks! No, you do not need to mountain climb and scale your way down, but it is rather fun hopping from rock to rock on your way down to the water. Once off the big rocks, you can lay your towel on some small pebbles. (Note: high tide means low beach space) Keep in mind, if you are a sand-dweller, this is not the beach for you. Try Bonneveine Beach. It is free to enter, but there is a fee for parking if you happen to be renting a Peugeot (or any other vehicle). Another great recommendation is a hike up the Calanques. From there, you can scale down for a quick dip in some pretty private settings or just admire the beauty from above after a brisk hike. To get there, it is around a 30-minute drive.
…Lazy Beach Bum (and/or family group):
Plage Du Prado is your ticket to easy entry and relaxation. With nice, sandy beaches, you can cozy into your towel and let the world outside fade away. There are nice, shallow places to swim as there are many calm coves due to the jetties. (Note: water can be chilly!) Access to this beach is also free, and there are restrooms and lifeguards on duty most of the time. This is also a great place to bring the kiddos or anyone who is not a strong swimmer.
If you are the life of the party and you like get social and mix with the locals, your best bet will be either Plage Du Prophete (the northernmost beach) or Plage Des Catalans. Here you can usually find a big crowd and volleyball games as well. Or, you can opt to chill with a crew of your own. These beaches are also free from cover. You can bring your own beverage as policies are loose in these areas (cue wine and cheese!) If you want to party in a secluded beach with a waiter, check out the next suggestion.
Just to the north of Plage du Prado, you can find a line of “private” beaches to choose from. These beaches serve appetizers, dinner, and drinks. You pay a cover charge to get in (usually includes food or drink) and you can enjoy the private beach on your posh beach recliner. If you want to live the life of luxury, this is the beach for you. These beaches are rather small, but only contain paying customers.
Some tips for the beach:
No matter where you choose to hang out, you can benefit from knowing a few things ahead of time:
–Guard your valuables: All the beaches here are safe, but keep an eye on your bag, money, and jewelry. This is more common sense traveling because of a high theft rate at the beach. Remember, don’t provide an opportunity for an opportunist! Some of the Big Spender options have lockers if you wish.
–Know the colors before you swim: If the flag is purple, you need to pay attention. Purple signifies marine life in the area. Swimming is forbidden when this color is flying. This does not mean that another beach down the road will be closed for swimming as well. As long as you see a green flag, you are good to go! Yellow is at your own risk swimming (sans a lifeguard) and Red means dangerous conditions.
–Don’t settle: Remember, Marseille has several beaches right next to one another. If you do not like the first one you see, keep walking south along the coast. You will be glad you did.
–Clothing optional: If you are easily offended by nudity, keep in mind that France has a different beach culture than the U.S. (aside from South Beach) and many people choose to go without the swim top or even in their birthday suits. Men tend to wear Speedo type swimsuits as well. Just a heads up if you are bringing the kids.
–Sunscreen: You still need the stuff even in another country. Another common sense tip. The sun often feels weaker in the moment, but you can end up with a bad burn at the end of the day.
–Green Space: There are a lot of green park spaces around these beaches to enjoy. You can bring Fido and a Frisbee, or even enjoy a picnic.
Have you been to a beach near Marseille? Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org!