More than two thousand years old, the French port city of Marseille is a true center of multiculturalism, richly rewarded by a blend of delicious food and fascinating history. With its reputation for great weather and beautiful coastal scenery, France’s second city is well worth the trip.
There are six branches in and around the city, including ones at Marseille Airport, Gare St Charles TGV Railway Station and Boulevard Rabatau Daniel Matalon in the city center. We’ve got a huge range of vehicles to choose from, and once you’ve picked up your hire car, you’ll enjoy peace of mind thanks to our 24-hour helpline and the choice to add extra drivers without incurring charges. And, if you decide to cancel or amend your hire car package, we won’t charge you for doing so*.
*When the booking is amended or canceled within seven days of being made.
With only the capital, Paris, beating it in the size stakes, Marseille is served by a huge network of roads which makes getting around incredibly easy.
If you’re picking up a hire car at Marseille Airport before heading into the city, you’ll need to take the A7. Other major routes into the center include the A8 motorway, which connects with Provence, and the A54 which connects Salon-de-Provence with Nîmes. Note that many of the highways leading out of Marseille are toll roads – the price varies but the toll can be paid by cash or credit card. You can find out all about the toll charges and fees here.
Within the city center, particularly areas near the old town and the port, many of the roads are narrow and winding, and parking spaces can be in huge demand during weekends and holidays when people flock to Marseille to walk along the city’s calanques. La Canebiere is the city’s busiest street; a historic road which is almost a kilometer long and leads from Marseille’s old port to the Réformés quarter. Lined with some of the city’s most famous buildings, including the Opera House, you may wish to find an alternative route during peak hours as it may become congested.
There are certain items which all drivers should carry in their cars when in France. These include a breathalyzer and a reflective jacket. Drivers are prohibited from wearing headsets and headphones whilst driving, as they can cause distractions.
The laws relating to driving in Marseille are the same as those throughout France. For more information before you hit the road, read this guide to driving in France.
If you’re making plans to explore the Provence region, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to take in Marseille. With some of France’s finest restaurants, glorious coastal scenery and plenty of entertainment on offer, you’ll be glad you visited this multicultural destination.
The city has always been an important trading post – it was a thriving port on the Mediterranean Sea as far back as Roman times. The harbor still brings huge commercial benefit to the region today, with the trade in large freight and visits from cruise ships. Visit the old port, where you’ll find the remains of a Roman harbor. This area served as Marseille’s main waterside area until the 1840s, when new quays and docks were built in the La Joliette district, to the northwest. To find out more about the city’s history, head to the Marseille History Museum for an educational experience of the region’s past.
Marseille’s culinary scene reflects the city’s long-standing cultural diversity. You’ll find a wider range of cuisines here than in any other French city, including a huge number of restaurants specializing in North African cuisine. Marseille’s signature dish is bouillabaisse, a traditional Provençal fish stew. It’s a delicacy served by most restaurants, from high-end hotels to locally-owned bistros. But aside from the traditional dishes, the Marseille food scene has many more modern influences too, with numerous award-winning restaurants run by chefs who’ve come from all over the world. The Le Panier district is where you’ll find fantastic restaurants run by young, up-and-coming chefs. This is a colorful neighborhood set in one of the city’s oldest areas, typified by its many narrow alleyways. For fine dining head to the Rue de Paradis or to the city’s affluent sixth arrondissement, which is home to some of Marseille’s wealthiest residents.
Once you’ve explored Marseille, enjoy a Provençal road trip in your rental car. Provence is a glorious region famous for its lavender fields and coastline, as well as its fantastic weather and ancient towns. It’s also a popular destination for the French higher-ups; when Princess Caroline of Monaco moved to the commune of St-Rémy, the region became the new Côte d'Azur. Here just as in Marseille, Roman ruins dot the landscape. Some of the best examples can be found in Vaison-la-Romaine, a thoroughly French city built on Roman foundations. Wander around the remains of the Roman theater and admire the Roman bridge — built in the first century BCE — which spans the Ouvèze River.
In Senanque and de Montmajour you’ll find there are beautiful abbeys to visit, and as you pass through the region’s countryside, typified by olive trees, terracotta-roofed buildings and the soundtrack of cicadas, you’ll understand why so many artists found their inspiration here. The best-known example is Arles, whose narrow streets were immortalized on canvas by Van Gogh.
For a taste of the Mediterranean and a city that’s jam-packed with cultural inspiration and culinary treats, Marseille is a memorable place that you’ll want to return to again time after time. Ready to book your trip? Click here.