France, a lovely and great place to visit, isn’t exactly a budget travel destination. Marseille, France’s second-largest city, should not be an exception. And that’s why most of the time the goal of travelers is to take a vacation to Marseille as inexpensively as possible. While there are certain sights worth your money, there are some places with numerous free things to do in Marseille. What’s even better is that, despite sticking to free attractions, Marseille is quite charming. Sure, there are things worth paying for.
However, the ones mentioned below are just a few of our Marseille travel recommendations for budget travelers. They’ll know about some great free things to do in Marseille, thanks to our well-researched article.
- 1 Palais Longchamp
- 3 Pharo Palace
- 5 The Best One of Free Things to Do in Marseille: The Old Port
- 7 Street Art in Le Panier
- 9 Marseille Cathedral
- 11 The Gardens of Fort Saint-Jean
- 13 The Abbey of Saint-Victor
- 15 Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde
- 17 End of Free Things to Do in Marseille List
The first on our list of free things to do in Marseille is Palais Longchamp. This palace, which sits at the top of a nice avenue just up the street, is quite the sight. The structure, which is more of a monument than a palace, holds two museums. The lavish fountain, staircases, and balconies, on the other hand, are not to be missed. This area is known as the Château d’eau which means “water castle” in English, and it’s so impressive that you’ll be amazed it’s real. Because it’s so grand and exquisite, you’ll keep coming back here for drinking and eat lunch on a regular basis.
Also, many couples come here to take wedding photos and models also come for a shoot for a magazine, a clothing brand, a luxury brand, and more. It’s not even surprising considering the setting.
The Pharo Palace is the next best destination for some free things to do in Marseille. The palace, hidden behind a small park on a peninsula, holds a prominent position near the Old Harbor’s entryway. The palace appears to be more of a venue these days, as most wedding parties are held outside. You can come there and enjoy taking a look at some parties too! The main attraction, though, is the numerous excellent clifftop overlooks from which you can gaze in all directions. It appears to be a popular area for locals, based on the number of people here.
The Best One of Free Things to Do in Marseille: The Old Port
The third one in our list of free things to do in Marseille comes from its old port. Marseilles has its Old Port, whilst other cities could have a magnificent square as their spiritual center. This large, sheltered harbor is encircled by the city, with bustling waterfront zones. It now serves as a vast marina for hundreds of sailboats and yachts, with unending rows of masts covering the landscape. The waterfront, on the other hand, is no less crowded, with people lined up for ferries and boat rides. As fascinating as it is to gaze out beyond the boats, you should also pay heed to the architecture. This area of town, particularly near “City Hall”, is densely packed with historic structures.
Street Art in Le Panier
While exploring, we will suggest you go up north of the harbor in a neighborhood named Le Panier. Once you’re there near City Hall, you’ll notice a perfect place to take some pictures. A staircase led from a building to a roadway, you’ll be lost in a maze of little alleyways that make up Marseille’s historic district. To be clear, this is a very popular tourist destination and visiting these magnificent streets is one of the best free things to do in Marseille.
The abundance of street art makes this place very appealing to tourists these days. Restaurants, stores, and the famed La Vieille Charité cultural center are all available here. None, however, capture the attention of tourists quite like the colorful Instagram fodder, the street art. Even in the off-season (such as November), don’t expect to have an easy time taking shots here, since there will be plenty of other tourists to cope with.
Visiting the huge Marseille Cathedral is another one of the free things to do in Marseille. Even from the front of the cathedral covered under scaffolding, it’s noticeable how gorgeous and significant it is. Although it was just built in the 19th century to replace an older structure, the Byzantine style and scale are difficult to overlook. The inside, which is composed of marble and other precious gems, is also impressive. The main hall is unusually decked with banners, and flags which aren’t something you’d be expecting once you go there.
The Gardens of Fort Saint-Jean
Is it odd that we suggest you go somewhere just because it smells nice? That is, in fact, one of the reasons we recommend you visit Fort Saint-Jean. This massive stone fortification, which goes back to Louis XIV’s reign, guards the entrance to the Old Port. Large cities, such as Marseille, hardly smell pleasant, but the gardens of Fort Saint-Jean do. As you stroll from one perspective to another atop the walls, your nose is pampered by a variety of herbs and other pleasant plants. Sure, the sights are spectacular, as they are at so many other locations on this list. However, this is without a doubt the most scented area of Marseille.
The Abbey of Saint-Victor
Marseille has some impressive landmarks, but the Abbey of Saint-Victor is a modest one that nonetheless leaves an impression. While that’s no longer an abbey, it is nonetheless a fascinating historical site. The first abbey is thought to have been formed around 415 AD, though it has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times since then. According to legend, the monks here were so bad-behaving that the Pope ordered it to be turned into a church! A visit won’t tell you much about those specifics, but the old stone and gloomy interior do give you a sense of its era.
If you are looking for free things to do in Marseille, there is no doubt visiting the Abbey of Saint-Victor would be a great option for you.
Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde
To be honest, if you only have one day in Marseille, make it a mission to the Marseille Basilica. The Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, as its full name suggests, is located on a hilltop south of the center of the city. It’s visible from all over the city and, as a result, offers breathtaking views. While the climb to the basilica from the waterfront is a bit of a trek, it is well worth it. Once you get close enough to appreciate the details, the basilica makes an immediate impression.
End of Free Things to Do in Marseille List
We hope you liked all the free things to do in Marseille, France. If you’ll have one day stay at the place, you’ll defiantly need to save some money to explore more of France. And that’s why, our list of free things to do in Marseille, might just be the right one for you.