This gritty, historic port city is abuzz with bars, seafood restaurants and unexpected sights. Make the most of it by bedding down in a quintessentially Marseille bed and breakfast.
Marseille is kind to flâneurs who wish to see the multicultural port city on foot, taking in its historic churches, modern museums, urban beaches and ancient neighbourhoods – just remember to bring comfy shoes. This Provençal city can be a little gritty – but a stay at a friendly B&B will help you feel right at home. Here are some of the best.
Expertly decorated in the style of a traditional mas (Provençal farmhouse), the cosy rooms at this central B&B have terracotta tile floors and upcycled antique furniture from local flea markets. Surprisingly, there’s a slim open-air pool in the snug courtyard, which is where you can enjoy fresh-baked croissants and homemade jams come breakfast time. It’s a short walk to Cours Julien, a colourful neighbourhood emblazoned with street art.
Situated in the heart of the historic Le Panier neighbourhood (Marseille’s oldest, dating back to the original Greek settlement), this B&B has just two guest rooms, with hardwood floors and arched shuttered windows. Owner Florence can help you navigate the steep and labyrinthine lanes outside – it’s a 12-minute walk to MuCEM, a modern museum dedicated to Mediterranean culture and civilisation, housed in a striking latticework-shell edifice near the port.
If you like psychedelic wallpaper and super friendly hosts, you’ll love Casa Ortega, a quirky five-room B&B near the Old Port. The train station is just around the corner; hop on the M2 metro south, disembarking at Rond-point du Prado to see L’Unité d’Habitation, a Unesco-listed Brutalist monolith designed by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier – there’s a decent restaurant on the third floor.
Ever slept in an ancient bell tower? This B&B occupies a former convent in Marseille’s historic neighbourhood of Le Panier (aka the basket). Rooms feature intricate cast-iron beds and patchwork tiles. Spend a lazy afternoon chatting with hosts Beatrice and Mathias in the fruit tree-filled garden after a tour of Château D’If, a 16th-century island fortress (featured in the Dumas novel, The Count of Monte Cristo) and Marseille’s answer to Alcatraz.
This rural B&B with two homely rooms feels blissfully remote, but in fact it’s just a 15-minute drive from the city centre. The lavender-scented garden, dotted with olive and almond trees, is particularly pleasant. Keen hikers should head into the nearby mountains; follow the Chemin de Palama to reach the Grande Étoile observation deck, where you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of Marseille and the Mediterranean beyond.
Travelling in a group? This artsy B&B features multi-bedroom self-catering apartments as well as individual rooms, and the communal spaces are enlivened by eclectic modern art. Head to the Neo-Byzantine Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, which towers over Marseille from the city’s highest point. It’s the most popular attraction here, so go early to beat the crowds – and you’ll get a head start since it’s close to your digs (you can always drive to avoid the short but steep hike).
Found in the Old Port district, this former convent now welcomes guests to stay in its nun’s quarters – three double rooms with original sandstone walls and high vaulted ceilings. You can follow an audio tour to learn more about the historic building. Hungry? Swerve the city’s “traditional” bouillabaisse (prices have soared, and anything under €50 (£43) is unlikely to be authentic), opting instead for pizza at La Bonne Mère (Marseille has a significant Neapolitan population – reservations are essential).
On Marseille’s rural outskirts, this whitewashed hilltop villa has an outdoor pool and broad sundeck with panoramic views. There’s plenty of hiking nearby, and the city’s a short drive away, but don’t miss a trip to Parc National des Calanques, a mountainous region famed for its limestone cliffs and turquoise waters – it’s a 40-minute drive south.