For the fifth stop on her Mediterranean holiday with Royal Caribbean, Johanna Payton was in the stunning town of Marseille France by cruise ship.
Marseille is a deceptive stop when you’re travelling on a cruise liner. Depending on where you dock, you could be just within walking distance of the town – or a 15 minute walk to the port-operated shuttle, a 15 minute bus journey and another 20 minutes on foot away. Sadly, we were the latter – but we still had around six hours to spend in the majestic seaside resort of Marseille.
Our route made sense from the cruise terminal, heading along the gorgeous promenade from Quai de la Joliette, past the stunning Cathedrale de la Major (Le Palais directly under the cathedral, on the promenade, is a good coffee stop) and on to the impressive Musée Regards de Provence, a modern museum dedicated to art from the south of France.
Once you walk past Fort St Jean and reach Quai du Port you can enjoy a coffee or an ice cream with a great view of Fort St Nicholas and the landmark church of Notre Dame de la Garde on the south side of the port, at any one of a number of restaurants along the quayside. Most are typical French resort restaurants, with well-priced formule menus for an affordable lunch, but Le Souk caught my eye. There’s also a cute little sightseeing train that departs from this part of the port, if you want an easy way to see a bit more of the city.
From the old port we made our way through the back streets of the 2nd arrondissement. There are great street cafes in this area, plenty of places to buy signature soap (cheaper than on the quayside) and quirky wine, art and vintage fashion boutiques to explore; I bought a fabulous early 70s vintage dress from Le Makadam.
If you’re heading back towards the cruise terminal (and make sure you give yourself plenty of time as the last free shuttle bus leaves at 3:45pm and is likely to be packed – if you miss it, it’s around an hour’s walk) you can call in to the very slick Les Terrasses Du Port. This is an American-style mall, easily navigable and well mapped out. The fashion is fabulous (if you enjoy high street shopping), and there are great home ware, toy and beauty shops. But the highlight is the very trendy food market near the entrance where food trends are encapsulated in a hip and smart food court. Tradition meets fashion here: we ate croques from Square Maker followed by sweet crêpes at Barbarac. Ask about the discount card for cruise travellers before you disembark your ship – and the shopping experience at the cruise terminal entrance promises to get even more exciting when Les Docks Villages, with 80 shops, opens across the road from Les Terrasses later this year.
Our sneaky peek at this wonderful city was short, but it was enough to convince us that a trip to Marseille via Eurostar will be a good investment for the autumn half term…and we may look into a cruise that departs from Marseille (travelling first on the train from St Pancras) in the future, too. So many no-fly options!
Next stop: Jerez, Spain
How to get to Marseille, France without flying:
Johanna took a no-fly 14 night Mediterranean Italian cruise with Royal Caribbean, departing from and returning to Southampton.
Words: Johanna Payton for Feet on the Ground
Images: Johanna Payton