The French city of Marseille is the one of the most popular destinations on Mediterranean coast. Being the oldest city in France, it is full of history with its Vieux Port along with plenty of other things to do in the city.
But for any visitor to the South of France, on top of the list is to check out one of the wonderful beaches on the Côte d’Azur (French Riviera). And it is no surprise that for Marseille has some of the most popular beaches around.
For the locals, going to the beach is very much part of the culture. It is as much a social scene as it is a place to enjoy the sun and sand. So with that, let’s check out the best beaches in Marseille, shall we? Allons-y!
1. Catalans beach near Vieux Port
About a 15 minute walk away from the Vieux Port is one of Marseille’s smallest and most popular beaches. Known as the Plage des Catalans, it is a small stretch of sandy beach that is popular with locals and tourists alike.
With plenty of volleyball nets and ice cream trucks, you will have to go early to claim a spot in the sun. From here you can also visit the Vallon des Auffes which is about a 5 minute-walk away.
You can stay nearby at the Sofitel or the Hotel C2 which are both next to the Vieux Port and easily walk over here during your stay.
2. Prado beach
Prado beach is the largest beach in the city, with several restaurants and bars directly and a festive atmosphere at any time of the day or night. Right next to a giant replica statue of Michaelangelo’s David, this is the place that most locals think of when they decide to go to the beach.
The Prado is a little further away from the center of town and you will need a car to get to it. But once you do get there, there are miles long stretches of beaches with plenty of space and amenities.
If you wish to stay nearby, try the Golden Tulip Villa Massalia hotel, or the nhow Marseille hotel which will give easy access to beaches.
3. Escale Borely beach
Right next to the Prado and Parc Borely is the Escale Borely. It has a large ferris wheel, a giant skateboard ramp, as well as the famous bar the Red Lion nearby.
It also has two large parking lots, although they tend to get quite crowded in the summer time.
4. Pointe Rouge
About 5 minutes away from Escale Borely is the Plage de la Pointe Rouge. While the Prado and Escale Borely can have pebbles on portions the beach, Pointe Rouge is more sandy.
One of the charming peculiarities about this beach is that there are small cabins on the beach that are family-owned by long-term residents.
The beach is also smaller than the other two and hence tends to be more crowded and fill up faster. If you are planning a beach day, head to Pointe Rouge in the morning to secure one of the premium spots on the beach.
5. Calanque de Port Pin
A set of cliffs to the west of the city, Les Calanques are a magnificent natural wonder. The closest part of the Calanques to Marseille, with its magnificent beach is the Port Pin which is a bit of a day trip, but definitely worth it.
There are several tour boat options to head to the Calanques from Marseille that you can see here.
With towering rocks and aquamarine clear water, you can decide to hike, swim, or just take it all in. Wear hiking boots if you go by land, as the rocks are rather slippery.
While the Prado and Catalans beaches attract a lot of crowds, one beach that is relatively more tranquil is the park and boardwalk at L’Estaque.
It is not really a beach but a long boardwalk along a harbor filled with fishing and pleasure boats. There is a beach portion however, on one end called the Corbieres which consists of two small beaches called Plage de la Batterie and Plage de la Lave.
There are plenty of restaurants in the harbour, certain of which have seating room on the 1st floor (2nd floor in America) to enjoy views all over the harbour.
7. Plage le Bain des Dames
If you are looking for a more secluded beach, head to the Plage le Bain des Dames. The name translates to “beach of bathing ladies”, but rest assured all are welcome.
It is a great little beach about 6 miles from the Vieux Port with fewer people than some other beaches, although that is because it is rather rocky in places. In addition, you may need water shoes to enter the water, because of the rocks.
☞ READ MORE: Best French beach towns and coastal cities
If you enjoyed that article, you may like to read more about things to do in Marseille. A bientôt!