There is no point in asking where is Marseille - this second-most populous French city and its not-so-brilliant reputation is infamous. But the good news is - a rapid change is on the way! It is one of the fastest developing cities in the South of France and gets an increased interest also from the tourists. More and more of those consider paying a visit during their travel to France. And so should you! Probably sooner than later - before it loses the raw charm of this slightly chaotic and messy but extremely vibrant place. Even if you have no clue what reputation I am talking about - just check out the list I have put together to curb your curiosity. In this article, you will get an insight into some of the many Instagrammable places (popular and hidden from the tourists’ eye) to prove that travel to Marseille should definitely be on your to-do list. And who knows, maybe it will be THE place of your next most liked Instagram photo! But before starting to read it, please check France visa requirements for your nationality.
1. Tea salon of Maison Empereur
This probably is not the most likely place you would find among the most Instagrammable places in Marseille. Founded in 1827, Maison Empereur claims to be the oldest hardware store in France and is definitely worth a visit just out of curiosity. Just to do shopping as people did it two centuries ago! But what will catch your eye is not the store itself (quite un-impressive). It is the tea salon (cafe) of this establishment! Let me warn you, it will be a riddle just to find it among the countless shelves full of different things, but ask around, and you will find yourself in a charming little old school cafe on the first floor. Just enjoy the classical music while sipping a coffee sitting at these rustic tables while the life and bustle continue on the lower floor. Here you go! An old hardware store just earned Instagrammability!
2. Best restaurant with a view - Le Chalet du PharoThe restaurant
itself is probably not one of the highlights of the city, but the views from it definitely are. You will see many guides mentioning Vieux Port (the Old Port) as one of the classic must-sees. And this is the spot to enjoy it the most! A view over this authentic landmark, fortress, and the rooftops of the city slowly enjoyed while munching on a delicious dessert or cocktail. Snap, snap!
3. Lavender paradise
When asked where is Marseille, not many will reply - in Provence. But it proudly lies there, and you should embrace all the goodies that come with it! I know this is not necessarily within Marseille itself, but you will regret missing blooming lavender fields if you happen to be so close to them in the season! In June and July, Provence suddenly blossoms and becomes this purple Instagram heaven. Just visit these fragrant and extremely photogenic fields to capture unforgettable pictures! And the sky is the limit for your creativity - almost anything will look beautiful on the backdrop of these purple blankets that reach as far as the horizon.
4. Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde
When considering what to do in Marseille, this is one of the first places anyone will encounter. This beautiful Neo-Byzantine basilica is not to be missed by itself! But, since you are in search of Instagrammable places, I will give you a hint. It is located on the highest point in Marseille! And for you, it just means - amazing 360-degree views and pictures with the whole city in the background! Besides that, it is one of the most romantic places to enjoy a bottle of wine with a loved one sitting on the steps or just to have a picnic!
5. Cours Julien
Probably the most hipster part of the city, this beautiful neighbourhood is the largest district in the whole of France dedicated to street art. Recently experiencing much gentrification, this neighbourhood obviously lures in the young crowd, and the cameras love it! One of the most popular spots is the stairs (Escaliers) of Cour Julien, but don’t limit yourself to this one place. I dearly suggest getting lost in the small winding streets to fully grasp the vibe and unique angles of this place in your photos. Among tiny arts and second-hand shops, comic book stores, and quirky bars, you will find great amounts of street art to admire. And so will your Instagram followers! Be ready for a sea of colours and unexpected angles.
6. Parc Borely
A well-kept secret that locals would love to keep from you, the Parc Borely will be a top spot for a lovely afternoon picnic. This park is massive - 17 hectares of lush greenness, locals enjoying themselves, and perfect spots for you to enjoy throughout the day! My favourite angle was the one I encountered while rowing on a boat, looking at people enjoying their drinks and meals on the banks of the river!
7. Le Panier
This neighbourhood is one of the oldest ones in Marseille, and you will quickly understand why I consider this the golden basket of Instagram possibilities (Le Panier means the basket in the translation). Reminding a countryside village at places, this hilly part of the city takes you on an exciting trip of its narrow winding streets. Colourful buildings, cute little shops, and buzzing squares lined with trees. And above all - lovely cafes and restaurants filled with locals and the authentic feel of Marseille. Even if you don’t know what to do in Marseille, just going there will fill the better half of your day, and you will completely enjoy it. Besides the whole neighbourhood itself, one of the places to visit in Marseille for charisma filled Instagram snaps is the edgy concept store / Moroccan restaurant Awash Marseille. Take a cup of coffee sitting outside this hidden bohemian gem and knock your socks off, filling your phone storage in the attempts at your next most liked Instagram photo. Follower envy guaranteed!
8. Le Vallon des Auffes
It is an incredibly picturesque fishing village just 20 minutes away from the centre of the city. The best time to come here will probably be in the sunset, but any other hour of the day will be as equally as spectacular. This definitely is one of the places to visit in Marseille if you have decided to try the famous seafood stew Bouillabaisse. Taking into account the risen popularity of the dish, you can expect to pay a high price, but there is one place I would consider worth the dime. In Chez Fon Fon, you will get this local speciality made with fresh produce from local fishermen at the price of 53 Euros, but it will come with the most stunning view of the adorable little port and the bridge at Le Vallon des Auffes. So worth it!
9. Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (MUCEM)
A true symbol of the “new” Marseille, this museum was opened in 2013 when Marseille was the European Capital of Culture. One of the largest ethnographic museums in the world, this building itself is something you will not mistake with any other place. Therefore the dark cube with its elegant concrete lacework is a must-have in your Instagram feed to reflect your travel to Marseille in a heartbeat. For the next level shots, go to the rooftop terrace for a snack and stellar views of the sea and the city.
10. Ile de Ratonneau
If you are looking for a somewhat exotic turn of events, take a quick and very affordable ferry ride to Ratonneau island. Saturated blue water, photogenic cliffs, and a sea of opportunities for fun as well as your not-so-typical Marseille photos. Centuries ago, it was used to quarantine the deadly sick, but nowadays, you will find this a pleasant opportunity for a hike to the fortress or a swim in those pristine Mediterranean waters. My absolute favourite is the beach at Saint Esteve!
11. Palais Longchamp
Easily one of the most classic Instagrammable places in Marseille, Palais Longchamp, with the magnificent fountain and gardens, will get your creative photographic juices flowing. It will be a great place for a calm walk and a picnic too!
To finish off the list, I just can’t miss the opportunity to emphasize a very important local tradition - aperitif. It is an integral part of life for the locals and could be described as something like a happy hour that takes place right after work and sometimes lasts until late in the night. A social gathering that you should definitely experience when you travel to Marseille! Just arrange a meeting, choose a cafe upon your liking, and sip a delicious cold rose along with some local snacks. And for Instagram - make a few stories of your “Tres Marseille” experiences! Cheers to that! A city of multiple faces, it just keeps surprising along the way. And probably, because it is not as pretentious as many other cities. Slightly chaotic and messy, it catches the hearts with its unapologetic nature. For you, it just means a ton of unique photos, a bunch of new Instagram followers, and a new revelation of a place you did not know you needed to experience. And more importantly - the very valued awareness that travel to France is not just macaroons and Eiffel Tower!