A short ferry ride across Vieux Port from Mairie to Place aux Huiles, takes no more than 5 minutes and runs regularly throughout the day when the weather permits.
free of charge too - a must do in Marseille.
Memorable bus ride up to Notre Dame de la Garde, steep and narrow streets, one of the better bus rides.
Pick it up on Vieux Port for the twenty minute journey and be rewarded with great views over the sea, city as well as Notre Dame herself.
My girlfriend and I visited Marseille for a weekend in June 2009.
We landed at MP2, the smaller of the two terminals at Marseille-Provence airport, and predominantly used by budget airlines. We had done our research and ascertained that the shuttle bus would be the most cost-effective way of reaching the centre of Marseille, some 25km away.
The following information was correct at the time of our visit:
The light blue shuttle buses bound for Marseille leave from a bus terminal outside the airport’s main terminal (Terminal 1). Upon exiting the MP2 arrivals hall, you’ll need to walk to the right for about 5 minutes to locate the buses.
As well as buses to Marseille, there are also buses to Aix-en-Provence and other towns in the region. It’s very straightforward to find the bus you need though, as the signposting is excellent – bus stop number 3 displays “Marseille” in large letters, so you can’t go far wrong!
Tickets are purchased from a ticket kiosk beside the buses. A one-way ticket to Marseille Gare St Charles (the central bus and train station) costs 8.50 Euros. There is no cost benefit of buying a return ticket, but for convenience purposes we bought return tickets for 17 Euros each. Tickets need to be validated in a machine as you board the bus.
The journey from the airport to Gare St Charles takes around 25 minutes and there are no other stops en-route.
Buses run every 20 minutes between the following hours:
Airport to Gare St Charles: first bus at 05:10; last bus at 00:10
Gare St Charles to Airport: first bus at 04:30; last bus at 23:30
There is ample room for luggage in the coach’s undercarriage.
We caught the Frioul-If Express Boat to the offshore islands of If and Frioul during our visit to Marseille in June 2009.
These boats depart from the port in Marseille frequently throughout the day, calling first at If and then at Frioul, before completing the round trip back to Marseille. The journey from Marseille to If is around 15-20 minutes, from If to Frioul is 10 minutes and from Frioul back to Marseille is 25 minutes.
The first boat departs Marseille at 06:45 and the final boat departs Frioul at 20:05, arriving back at Marseille at 20:30. In the summer months, there is also a later boat at weekends which departs Frioul at 22:00, arriving back at 22:25. Boats run approximately every 30-45 minutes throughout the day.
Tickets (purchased from a ticket office at the port) cost 10 Euros to visit one of the islands only, or 15 Euros to visit both of the islands. We decided to visit both islands and, with hindsight, we are glad that we did.
If you choose to visit both islands, you disembark first at If (a small island housing the Chateau d’If fortress that is famous as the setting for Alexandre Dumas’ “Count of Monte Cristo”), and you are free to stay there for as long as you please. When you are ready to leave, make your way down to the small landing area and wait for the next boat across the narrow strait to Frioul (an island with a small village, a handful of beaches and opportunities for hiking). Again, you can stay for as long as you wish on Frioul and catch the boat back to Marseille when you are ready.
A few things to note:
The boats operate this route only in the direction described above. You cannot therefore visit Frioul first and then cross to If. The only way to do this would be to go from Marseille to Frioul, then back to Marseille and board another boat to If. This wouldn’t make sense though as you’d have to pay 20 Euros (i.e. 2 x the cost of visiting one island) rather than the combined fare of 15 Euros.
You have to pay an additional 5 Euros to enter the fort on If. This is an important point since the posters at the embarkation point in Marseille state that an additional fee is payable at If, but don’t tell you how much it is. We therefore had no idea how much we would be charged when we got off the boat at If. If you’re visiting If, then you really have little choice but to pay this additional fee as there is nothing else to see on the island.
The boats get very busy in the summer months. We queued for over half an hour just to buy tickets for the boat, and then joined another queue of similar length to actually board a boat. Quite often you’ll find yourself at the back of a queue with more people queuing than can actually fit onto the boat. The boat will then leave and you’ll have to wait for the next one. This can be frustrating since the queues aren’t particularly orderly, so you’ll find many people jumping the queue and it can feel as though you’ll never get to the front! We actually fared quite well in comparison to others, especially on the way back from Frioul when an additional boat was put on to ferry the growing crowds back to Marseille. Despite the second boat, there were still people left behind at the port with a long wait for the next one.
The boats have outdoor seats on the upper deck and seats inside on the lower deck. The journey can be quite turbulent at times and the boat reaches some quite impressive speeds as it bounces over the waves.
I’d recommend catching the Frioul-If Express Boat while in Marseille. You’ll probably need a full day to do both islands justice, so aim to catch an early boat and return to Marseille late in the afternoon or early in the evening.
Some road distances to Marseille from:
- Celje (Slovenia): 1.080 kms.
- Madrid (Spain): 1.104 kms.
- Lübeck (Germany): 1.553 kms.
- Faro (Portugal): 1.614 kms.
Checking the website, you’ll find more road distances together with the driving times and the best routes.
There is a shuttle bus from the airport to the new station called Vitrolles Aeroport Marseille Provence, from where a train will take you to into the city and Gare St Charles.
Timetable for those trains is here
If the timetable doesn't work for you (there are some long gaps between trains) there is a bus from the airport to St Charles every 20 minutes.
From there it is another train to Toulon.
Got shuttle bus at the airport no problem, cost 8.5 euros to town. We arrived at gare st charles at 22.35 and it was teaming down with rain. Station was desolate with hardly no one around. We went down the escalator and saw 2 people in mcdonalds and loads of youths trying to attract our attention, there were people either sitting or standing against walls drinking what must be lemonade ha ha the whole atmosphere to the wife and I ,,who are over 50 was yukky,,not good pas bon.
We found a taxi to take us to our hotel to save walking in what looked like a very iffy area 7 minutes to rue de forbin and it cost us 30 euros or 28 pounds. Now I know its extra at night but I didnt want to go to Algeria. THE TIP???
Dont arrive in marseille at 22.35 or come mob handed or dont get a taxi at night.
The metro of Marseille has 2 lines. it's very convenient to visit downtown. The subway is rather clean and safe. We chose for a 3 day pass and might use busses and metro for just 10,5 €. A good deal, for sure when you know that a single traval costs you 1,7 €
You can go to the islands with a speed boat wich starts from the south side of the "Quai des Belges", at the beginning of the fish market.
During summer you have to choose the good time, because around 11 AM there are many people trying to go to the iskands...
when staying in Marseille for one week (or more) it is better to buy a "Abonnement 7 jours". you can obtain it in different stations. you will need a passfoto and a piece of ID. it costs €10,6 (2008) and will grant you unlimited access to metro, bus and tram! it is surely the cheapest and most efficient way to get around Marseille. it is also possible to buy a 1 & 3 day pass (more expensive, also unlimited access and no need for a passfoto and id)
you can obtain more info at http://www.rtm.fr/
I purchased a weekly ticket for Le Velo, the public bike scheme, almost as soon as I arrived in Marseille and it improved an invaluable way to see the city. I was lucky enough to be assisted by two kindly Marseillaise on La Canebiere to navigate Le Velo's on street ticket vending machine. The ticket was 1 euro with the first half hour free and then 1 euro per hour. Initially, I was rather intrepid about cycling on the city streets but I learned quickly by following fellow veloists.
Furthermore, Le Velo takes a little getting used to as it is bulkier and more top heavy than a normal bike. However, The city is blessed with on street walk/ cycle ways and bus lanes which minimise contact with cars and lorries and there is a large network of Le Velo docking bays .In particular, the following routes are worth considering - Le Quai de Port on the north side of Le Vieux port for your initial run and then Rue de Rome and Avenue du Prado for longer runs. My favourite run was around Le Hippodrome and Le Jardin Botanique. The bike has an auto lighting system, 3 gears - which are required for the hills around Gare St Charles - and has a locking system. It's worth noting that when you visit busy places such as the beach, the docking bays may be full up when you arrive and conversely, empty when you leave, so timing is everything. I did have a problem docking once as the alarm didn't sound after a view seconds but I verified successfully that it had been locked by ensuring that it registered as an available bike on screen. I did have a problem also with the gear assembly on one bike which I quickly docked. There are a number of travelling mechanics who travel around the city fixing on site or transporting broken bikes to the workshop. I spoke to one of them and she advised that there are circa 10,000 Le Velo journeys per day the scheme has been very successful since it's inception in July 2007. I even used Le Velo for my final journey to Gare St Charles.
The budget airlines from UK arrive in MP2 which is basically a shed. After the usual customs welcome of slapping your passport down back at you, you will have to walk a very un-disabled friendly route to get your bags. The baggage handlers also take an age to deliver the bags. A shuttle bus connects to Marseille Gare St Charles and takes 20 mins and costs €8.50 for a single - no option to buy a return ticket!
Departures are just as bad, overprices food (well all marseille is this!) toy town check in desks where you have to carry your own luggage through to the baggage handling area, the security area doesnt seem very secure and again there are limitations if you are disabled to move around the terminal.
Marseille is 3 hours from Paris by TGV train, and arrives at gare St Charles station. Buses and trams take you around above ground and the Metro underground. A single fare is 1 euro 70 cents. A tour bus is also on service. [see my tour bus tip ]
The Marseille tour bus starts from Quai du port at the Vieux Port, there are 16 stops to hop on and off. Tickets can be bought on board or the Tourist Office. The tour takes about an hour and half. An adult fare was 17 euro, senior 14 euro, and child 8 euro in March 2008. Commentary is provided in several languages. Well worth the trip. If you go low season just check frequency.
There is bus (navette) from the airport to Saint Charles bus and railways station 3 times and hour.Price:8,50 euros.If you go to the Vieux Port go down to the metro Saint Charles.Only 2 stops.Although is not too far you should go only on foot if you are not in a hurry and not carrying bagages because of the steps.