The Best Beaches in Marseille, France

Calanque "d'En-Vau" in the Calanques National Park next to Marseilles in Provence, southern France. The French Fjords.

No trip to Provence is complete without a stop in Marseille, one of France’s largest cities and a major port. It has long been a point of entry for immigrants, making for a rich and varied local culture. Marseille is the home of some of France’s most important churches and museums, and has tempting food establishments around every corner. And don’t forget the views! Gazing out at the Château d’If, perched on its little island surrounded by the sparkling blue sea, is nothing short of spectacular.

One of the downsides of Marseille is that it can be oppressively hot in the summer. Luckily, its long coastline means that Marseille has plenty of beaches, several close to the city center. Most are free and have services like bathrooms and first-aid stations, as well as lifeguards on duty during the summer months. 

Let’s look at some of Marseille’s best beaches. Please note, they are very popular so be sure to claim your spot early in the day!

Beaches Near the Marseille City Center

The heart of Marseille is the area around the Vieux-Port (old port), and two beaches are just a short distance away.

Plage des Catalans (Catalan Beach)

Just a few hundred yards from the Vieux-Port is the popular Plage des Catalans, with a sandy beach, bathrooms, a first-aid station, and nearby restaurants. And just a short distance offshore lies Marseille’s underwater sculpture museum, perfect for snorkelers to visit concrete sculptures of Poseidon, bears, fish, and other creatures.

Plage du Prophète (Prophet’s Beach)

About a mile south of the Vieux-Port is Prophet’s Beach, a small sandy beach that is especially good for kids because the water is shallow, so they can safely wade out a good distance. The beach has a snack bar, first aid station, and showers, plus a court for beach volleyball. Just above it is Chez Marco, a restaurant with a view of the sea that is very popular with the locals.

Other Beaches in Marseille

Plages de Corbières (Corbières Beaches)

These are three beaches next to the small fishing port of Estanque, in the northern part of Marseille. They are a mix of sand and small pebbles and are shallow and partly shaded, making them good for families. They also offer bathrooms, showers, and a first-aid station. Estanque is a nice area to visit and perhaps try local specialties like the delicious and gluten-free panisse, or unleavened bread made from chickpea flour and olive oil.

Plages de Prado (Prado Beaches)

The largest beach in Marseille is actually a series of several smaller beaches spread out over two miles in the southern part of the city. They include showers, first-aid stations, large lawns, playgrounds, and many places to eat. One area, called l’Escale Borely has several restaurants where you can eat with your feet in the water!

Two of the beaches, Prado Nord and Prado Sud, are especially designed for people with disabilities: those with reduced mobility, the visually impaired, and those with mental or psychological disabilities. There are even amphibious vehicles available to help those with severely reduced mobility reach the water and enjoy a swim.

Plage Pointe-Rouge (Pointe-Rouge Beach)

Just south of the Prado beaches is Pointe-Rouge beach, the largest sandy beach in Marseille. It’s very popular because it is sheltered from the wind. Here you can rent a paddle boat or go paddle surfing, and there are plenty of restaurants as well as bathrooms, showers, and a first-aid station.

The Calanques

South of Marseille is the Calanques National Park. Calanques are deep inlets carved by wind and water into a coastline of massive limestone cliffs—some call them the fjords of France. Many have beautiful little beaches that are accessible by foot or boat, and a few can also be reached by car.

Access to the Calanques is often restricted during the summer months due to fire danger, so be sure to check with the tourist office before setting out. Also, Frenchly published this very thorough guide to day trips in the South go France, and the Calanques are in it.

Two calanques that are accessible by car are the Calanque de Sormiou and Calanque de Morgiou. The Calanque de Sugiton and Calanque En-Vau offer spectacular scenery, but you’ll have to hike in—wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water, as these hikes are not for the faint of heart. Further south from Marseille is the charming port town of Cassis, and several other calanques can be reached from there.

For Further Information

For more information on addresses, opening hours and how to reach these beaches using public transportation, click here.

For a complete list of all the beaches in Marseille (in French), click here.

For information about water quality, updated daily during the summer, click here.

Keith Van Sickle splits his time between Provence and California. He is the author of the best-selling An Insider’s Guide to Provence. Read more at Life in Provence

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