Whilst walking from Gare St Charles near Boulevard Dugommier and La Canebiere, I was pestered by a guy who asked for money. I ignored him and walked on but he persisted for a few minutes, not in a threatening way but it was obvious that he wanted something. It was rather disconcerting since I didn't know if he had any accomplices. By blanking him, I was able to avert any potential issues, but I can see how a single female could have felt very threatened. The lessons are obvious and had I not had cause to go there to buy a TGV ticket, I would have avoided the area. On the other hand, the area around the Le Vieux port is not threatening and there are lots of tourists. Just avoid the red light district around Rue Glandeves, more embarrassing then intimidating.
If you have to visit the area around Gare St Charles at night, I would recommend taking le velo. There are a couple of bike stations close by and cyclists seem to be invisible to the local population. Also, avoid taking passports, credit cards and excess cash. I think that leaving these at your hotel is the lesser of two evils.
Marseille is full of people coming from other countries, opposite of Aix its very rough town. You would see people vistling, wheezing at beautiful ladies. Dont bother even they vistle at you, ignore and keep on walking at same pace. Quarrel can turn into some real danger.. Some areas are town are not to be ventured at any cost, please ask tourist information centre about it. Stick to the tourist area there should not be any problem. Take care of your pockets and passports, and do not hand over anything to strangers even if they say they are police, better take them to the police station and show whatever documents they ask over there.
e.g., questions could be
May I see your passport?
Do you have fake bills? I want to check your bills? etc.
The whole town smells and looks like it could do with a good wash! Areas are full of men who hang around and leer at passing women. It seems acceptable to shout out comments and when no answer is given to harrass the individual with obscene gestures. The town either smells of off food (loads of bins full everywhere) or urine.
There are two things that you should take into consideration when travelling to Marseilles: firstly, try not to flash your cash around when in public places.. don't carry large amounts of cash around with you.. it may attract the wrong kind of attention. Secondly, beware of forged euro notes, particularly 20s and 50s. Familiarise yourself with real notes and you won't get caught when receiving change for purchases.
Imagine you have bought tickets from Marseilles to Nice two days before a trip. When you arrive to railway station you see that part of railway staff are on strike and trips to Nice are delaying. Then starts a chaos because all passengers try to take a seat in next trip but for all passengers seats are not enough then part of them have to wait next trip.
I had the luck because I bought the ticket when strike was started and new schedule came into effect. So I didn't have to be nervous.
Le Mistral is a strong wind in the region around Marseille that occurs mostly in the winter and spring. We experienced it while in the region in November - and we can agree: it really is strong. Those who know us will know that we are not really the tiniest persons (despite my VT nick), but that wind even pushed us a couple of steps backward.....
So you better beware and find a safe spot!
The mistral is a typical wind of the region. When I was in Marseille, I had 5 days of Mistral...so even if it is sunny, it can be really chilly sometimes...and it is also quite dangerous to be in some places in the calanques because the wind can make you loose your balance! So it is better to be in a safe place when the mistral is really strong...
Beware at night when travelling near the train station. I was travelling with my boyfriend and the guys did not hesitate to come up and yell words at me. There's no real danger, just don't answer back. Don't take the chance.
The photo shows workers in protest over retirement/pension benefits, down rue Dugommier. I support the right to strike, and hope things worked out well for everyone. North American travelers should be aware that French workers strike more often, and with much greater effect, than we have come to expect at home. The strike disrupted our ability to sight-see (no buses), so we ended up walking to the sights on our second day in Marseille.
Marseille is a grimy, run-down city, and I would never, ever go back there.
We stayed in a hotel on the street between the railway station and La Canabarie and it was populated day and night with men hanging around dealing drugs, prostitutes and other undesirables. The rest of the city wasn't much better, lots of beggers, street children and pushy street traders.
Favourite pastimes in Marseille seem to be throwing fireworks in the main street, and driving motorbikes on the pavement. Also watch out when crossing the road - cars pay no attention to red lights and green men signs!
Be careful around the docks. A lot of this area is ridden with crime, and is hardly safe.
Also, if you get invited to a party on a boat near there by some grinning eediot studying in Aix, don't bother. We did, on some useless vessel moored miles from anywhere, and it was dull as hell, and the people were irritating. But worst of all was that we couldn't just leave and go to the station from there; walking around was unsafe, and so had to stay the night. The toilets on the boat didnt work so we had to use the really awful ones on the dockside - very unhygienic.
The red light area is very close to Vieux Port and although I was never bothered, some might be offended. If you stick to the main roads at night there is no problem of going through the 'wrong' street.
marseille is now a dangerous city,with a high rate of criminality;you will understand it as soon as you a rrive at marseille-st-charles railway station;many junkies and beggars will surely wait for you downstairs
I am sorry to say that Marseille and the area is not so safe. Don't leave valuable stuff unattended on the back seat or anything that might hint you have something in the trunk... thiefs will smash the window or trunk to get to it.
I departed once from Marseille airport to Montreal, only to discover that my checked luggage arrived in Montreal but only after an attempt to pick (demolish) the lock appended.
Le vrai Pastis de Marseille
One of 'Le Jaune' might be enough to see the world from a different angle!