The Marseille sun-trap

300. That’s how many sunny days bless this city every year, with its unrivalled taste for easy-living. For that reason and many more besides, the fine city of Massilia is today one of the world’s top 39 destinations according to the New York Times. A status that’s well-deserved.

Although today we are told not to believe in legends, the amazing weather in France’s second city is something you can count on. In Marseille, the weather is fine. In this part of the South of France that the novelist, filmmaker, and playwright Marcel Pagnol held so dear, with its lively port, you can settle down on a terrace or wander wherever your mood takes you in summer and winter alike.

Its 35 miles of seafront alone offer plenty of options for a good walk. Along its coastline, the Calanques national park – France’s first suburban national park – alone covers some 8300 hectares and provides an enchanting blend of various natural, cultural, geological, and landscape heritage. Whether you’re a Sunday stroller or seasoned hiker, Marseille’s Calanques are brimming with endless discoveries to make under the Mediterranean sun, including vertigo-inducing cliffs, garrigues, and secret creeks.

And you can’t talk about Marseille without mentioning its legendary cuisine. Today, with the plentiful food trucks, open-air bistros, and restaurants of renown, you can sample a whole range of local delicacies, all under a beautiful blue sky. Street food, typified by the pizza trucks that line the roads of Marseille, represents a popular custom that is now bang on-trend. Strolling along with a Fish and Chips made in Marseille, or takeaway meatballs from Kabanon, you can explore Marseille without missing a moment of sun.

Marseille’s famous pétanque, once the reserve of aficionados and deemed a cliché, has taken on a new lease of life and spread to trendy neighbourhoods in Paris, London, and other major international cities. Beneath that Marseille sunshine, come and try out your skills at the many pétanque strips, and learn to shoot and point at the famous little jack like a pro. This might just let you feel the true soul of the city and its traditional game of boules, a source of thousands of tales every second.

Pastré Park lets you take a lungful of fresh air and catch some sun right in the heart of the city.
Whether you’re out with the family, with your partner, or looking to get in on a game of football, this beautiful Provençal farmhouse located between Pointe Rouge and Grotte Rolland offers visitors a natural getaway that is as beautiful as it is rare in Marseille, and it even stays nice during a heatwave. If you’re feeling sporty, there’s a fitness trail, a treetop adventure course, a kids’ playground, and even a horse riding centre.
Municipal property since the 1960s, today Pastré is a vast public park. It is the pride of everyone in Marseille and a real treat for visitors who come to get away from it all. You can hire a bike to explore the whole park, or a Segway for a fun experience that the whole family will enjoy.

Marseille’s surroundings are also filled with great ideas for sunny escapades. If you head south down to Cap Canaille, you’ll fall in love with the colours, authenticity, and amazing setting of the little port of Cassis. To the northwest of the Phoenician city, on the banks of the famous Etang de Berre and the Caronte Canal, you can also explore the Martigues, known locally as the “Venice of Provence”.

And then whenever the mood strikes you, you can just decide to set off from the port aboard a boat and enjoy some of the finest sailing there is. Accompanied by a guide, you can set off early in the morning, and spend the day swimming in secret corners of Marseille that most people never know about, admiring the sparkling Mediterranean whose waters reach a lovely 24°C in summer.
The rooftop terrace of Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse provides another opportunity to catch some rays. A listed monument, the imposing building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is popular with visitors for its unique rooftop. On its terrace, open to the public, you can enjoy a space for relaxation with a kids’ pool, games areas, and a stage sheltered by a wall/windbreak for open-air performances. On the third floor you can sip on some fresh juice on the terrace of the Le Corbusier Hotel, with unbeatable views of the Med and the Frioul archipelago.

“It is a place where you feel a touch of the East, stroll unencumbered, and breathe easy. The skin dilates and inhales the sun as if bathing in light.” Gustave Flaubert.

Dates for your diary

Foire aux Santons (External link)
Until 6 January 2020
At the heart of the Phoenician city, the biggest nativity fair the world has ever seen!

Giono (External link)
Until 17 February 2020
Mucem presents a retrospective of the work of Jean Giono (1895-1970).

Man Ray and Fashion (External link)
Running until 7 March 2020
The exhibition presents a little known side of Man Ray’s work, a major artist who revived fashion photography at a time that it was strictly informative.
Musée Borély and Musée Cantini

“Plongée au cœur des canyons 2020 (Into the heart of the canyons 2020)” exhibition
14 February – 21 June 2020
The Parc National des Calanques is hosting an exhibition all about canyons. The aim is to raise public awareness of protecting our ecosystems so that we can better preserve them.
Espace Villeneuve Bargemon

The Marriage of Figaro (External link)
6 – 7 March 2020
A major event! The Kazan Theatre’s big comeback with the masterpiece of French theatre.

Japan Expo Sud (External link)
28 February to 1 March 2020
Shows, exhibitors, treasures, and a whole lot more at the Parc Chanot.

Swan Lake (External link)
Come and see this iconic production on 29 March 2020 at the Dôme de Marseille.