Marseille beaches may not be as famous as the beaches around Nice or the Italian Riviera, but they are well worth visiting if you are spending any time in France’s second-largest city during the summer.
Drawing travelers year-round, the French city of Marseille is known for its coastal culture, old port district, maritime history, and seafood dishes.
Marseille’s famed beaches are a must-stop, especially if you’ll be arriving during the warmer seasons. Each Marseille beach has a unique character, so be sure to visit a few different ones.
While there are plenty of beaches in the city, don’t hesitate to venture outside of Marseille to discover more. The following list includes some of the city’s best-known beaches, as well as others throughout the region.
Map of the Best Marseille Beaches
1. Prado Beach
The Plage du Prado, or Prado Beach, is the largest in Marseille and well worth a visit. Located to the south of the city, the beach consists of a handful of smaller beaches, all known as “Prado.”
The area was developed in the 1970s and is now a Marseille mainstay. Prado Beach is accessible via multiple bus lines. The most direct option is to take bus 83 from the Old Port which takes you straight to Plage du Prado.
There are restaurants and cafes lining the Promenade Georges Pompidou, which runs along the beach.
2. Plage du Prophète
Easily accessible from anywhere in Marseille, Plage du Prophète is a small beach that is very popular with both locals and visitors on summer evenings. This beach is a great casual choice for an afternoon outside of the center of the city.
3. Plage des Catalans
Catalan Beach, or Plage des Catalans is great for a quick jaunt after a busy day in the Old Port district. The beach is within walking distance of the neighborhood, meaning you can go for a dip in the sea any time of day.
This is definitely not the quietest beach in Marseille, but it’s definitely lively. There are various restaurants around the beach, or you can set up a small picnic to watch the sun go down.
4. Pointe Rouge Beach
Pointe Rouge is another Marseille beach that is conveniently located. While it’s not as close to the city center as Plage des Catalans, it is still easily accessible via public transport.
One of the best ways to get to Point Rouge from Vieux Port is by the city’s maritime shuttle boat, which also stops in Les Goudes. Boats run hourly during the summer season and the ride to Pointe Rouge takes about 30 minutes.
Once you’re there, soak in the sun, enjoy the waves, and grab a bite at a local eatery before catching an evening ferry back.
5. St-Esteve Calanque Beach
Venturing out to St-Esteve Calanque Beach is a low-stress way to enjoy Marseille’s natural beauty without straying too far. Located on the Frioul islands just off the city’s coast, St-Esteve Calanque Beach is a hidden gem. To get there, you’ll have to catch a short ride on the Frioul Express, a boat that leaves from Vieux Port. Boats run hourly.
Keep in mind that this boat route also covers the Chateau d’If, a former island prison and one of Marseille’s most interesting historic destinations. It’s easy to visit both Chateau d’If and St-Esteve Calanque Beach in one day thanks to the Frioul Express.
Once you reach your destination, the beach is within walking distance of the ferry stop. The shoreline is both sandy and pebbly, and the beach is tucked away from the open sea.
Beautiful and accessible, St-Esteve Calanque Beach offers a new way to enjoy Marseille. The island port has restaurants and cafés near the ferry stop, so you don’t have to worry about bringing a picnic.
6. Calanque de Sormiou
Located within Calanques National Park, Calanque de Sormiou is just south of Marseille. The Calanques are known for their rugged beauty, sapphire waters, and hiking trails.
Calanque de Sormiou is home to a large, scenic beach. While this area of the park is only about a 30-minute drive from Marseille, roads to the park are often closed in the summer due to fire risk.
Therefore, reaching the beach by car may require additional planning. It can also be reached via a hiking trail from Les Baumetter- however, the hike can take upwards of 45 minutes one way.
Another option is to experience the Сalanques by boat. Local companies offer boat tours around the national park that can make it easier to experience beaches like Calanque de Sormiou. Many depart from Vieux Port, meaning you may not have to rely on public transportation at all.
7. Calanque d’En Vau
If you’re looking for a challenge, consider hiking to Calanque d’En Vau. This hidden beach is also located in Calanques National Park and is lauded for its beauty.
The beach is ringed by towering cliffs and accessible via a two-hour hike from Cassis village. In this case, getting there is definitely half the fun- you’ll be rewarded with views along the way.
The hike begins at Calanque Port Miou, which is on the west side of Cassis. This is definitely a challenging way to reach a beach, so there is also the option of stopping at Calanque de Port Pin instead. This beach is also calm and scenic, and it is closer to the beginning of the hiking trail.
8. Plage de l’Arène
Located in the village of Cassis, Plage de l’Arène is perfect if you want to get away from the crowds of Marseille. Trains from Marseille to Cassis run regularly, and the ride takes only about 20 minutes one way.
A short public bus ride can get you from the train station to the waterfront. The beach itself is lined with trees and very picturesque. The shoreline may be quite rocky, so bring appropriate footwear.
A visit to Plage de l’Arène can also be a great opportunity to explore Cassis and enjoy local eats before settling down on the sand.
9. Plage de la Grande Mer
Cassis is also home to Plage de la Grande Mer, its most popular seaside destination. While this beach does get crowded, it can still provide a nice break from the beaches in Marseille.
With plenty of restaurants and cafes within walking distance, Plage de la Grande Mer is a comfortable all-day spot. Surrounding cliffs and sparkling waters add to its appeal. The beach is generally pebbly, so bring the right footwear.
Plage de la Grande Mer is slightly closer to central Cassis than Plage de l’Arène. If you arrive and notice that Plage de la Grande Mer is already crowded, Plage de l’Arène may make a good back-up beach while in Cassis.
10. Plage des Phocéens
Located just south of Pointe Rouge, Plage des Phocéens is a tiny beach that provides plenty of shade. It is by no means as popular as Marseille’s larger beaches, which can be a plus.
If you’re looking for a small, casual beach for a morning picnic or evening dip in the water, Plage des Phocéens checks all the boxes.
This beach can be accessed by taking the ferry from Vieux Port. Get off at Pointe Rouge and take a short ten-minute walk south to reach Plage des Phocéens. The ferry runs every hour between 8am and 7pm during low season and until 10pm during high season.
If you want to explore even further beyond Marseille, consider booking a charter yacht to take you along the French coastline. Yachts can be chartered from multiple locations along the coast, including Marseille.
If you want to venture into Monaco for the day or admire its shoreline from the deck of your yacht, consider traveling by train from Marseille. The train ride from Marseille to Nice takes about 2.5 hours, while Marseille to Monaco takes 3.5.
Once in either destination, you can sit back and relax aboard a previously booked charter yacht. Yacht routes vary, and many focus on stops along the iconic French Riviera such as St. Tropez and Antibes.
A yacht tour to Monaco can introduce you to an entirely new country without skipping a beat.
If you opt for Monaco, you can also arrange to spend some time onshore. The waterfront district of Monte Carlo makes the ideal destination for a stopover.
As your yacht awaits you at the dock, indulge in top-rated cuisine nearby, or try your luck at the famous Casino de Monte Carlo. If you’re not planning on spending time inside, even the façade of the casino is worth a stop. Other attractions within walking distance include the Princess Grace Japanese Garden and the Plage du Lavrotto.
One of Marseille’s defining elements is its beach culture. There are plenty of spots to catch some sun or swim in the Mediterranean. It’s all about finding the right beach for your taste- urban beaches can, after all, be very different from natural ones.
Luckily, the city offers the best of both worlds. You can easily reach a number of Marseille beaches from Vieux Port. If you’re open to traveling slightly further, you’ll be able to experience the region’s famous Calanques and the village of Сassis.
There are enough beaches to try a new one every day of your stay. Or, find a favorite Marseille beach and enjoy getting to know it as you explore the rest of the city.