The historic and cosmopolitan port city of Marseille makes for the perfect short break destination for anyone looking for a luxury getaway to France this summer – and with a buzzing atmosphere and some gorgeous beaches right on its doorstep, not to mention a mouth-watering gastronomic scene, it ticks all of the right boxes and then some.
As one of the closest major ports to Africa, Marseille, with its Mediterranean charm, certainly exhibits influences from the continent, and it is precisely this that sets it apart from the many other coastal hot spots along France’s picturesque Cote D’Azur. A cultural melting pot that comprises ancient hammams, spice markets and mosques, alongside its rich European history and classic French cuisine, it’s an intriguing destination in more ways than we can list.
Nevertheless, it’s Marseille’s abundance of pretty, sandy beaches that remains one of its biggest draws during the summer months, with an affluent crowd from across France and wider Europe descending to enjoy a slice of the good life, soak up some sunshine and cool off in the sea. If you’re planning on visiting in 2022, then you’ll be spoilt for choice, with a huge number of sheltered coves, hidden beauty spots and long stretches of sand to choose from.
To help you make the most out of your stay, we’ve rounded up seven of the best beaches in Marseille to visit, with something to suit everyone.
La Pointe Rouge
The largest sandy beach in Marseille, La Pointe Rouge is, perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the city’s most popular. The sand is soft, there are lifeguards on duty to ensure safe swimming, and there are several great restaurants scattered along the sand serving up tasty cuisine, from freshly-caught local fish and seafood, to pizza. Arrive early if you’re planning on driving, as parking can be an issue later on in the day during the summer months.
Plage Escale Borely
Just two miles south of the city centre, Plage Escales Borely is one of the most popular beaches near Marseille amongst water sports enthusiasts, particularly wind-reliant sports such as windsurfing and sailing. This lengthy, sandy expanse of beach is a sociable spot that is home to a number of stylish bars and restaurants that offer the perfect environment for a relaxing seaside lunch or dinner, or some early evening sundowners.
Plage de l’Estaque
To find this group of three picturesque beaches located along the Côte Bleue, wander to the 16th arrondissement. Plage de Sable de la Lave is the easiest to access and promises sandy shores lapped by blue waters – perfect for relaxing or simply taking a stroll. Nearby, the Plage de la Batterie is equally as attractive and can be found just west of the port, while a little further along, Plage du Fortin provides a protected cove that is perfect for families with children because of the safer opportunities to enjoy swimming and playing in the water and welcome shelter from the wind.
Plage des Catalans
A favourite amongst sports enthusiasts, beach volleyball is the order of the day at Plage des Catalans, which hosts a number of tournaments and international competitions throughout the year. Even on a normal day, you’ll find groups of people playing laid-back, friendly games before heading to one of the many kiosks that line the sand for a drink. With a selection of snack bars and cafés, and sun loungers available to rent for those looking to soak up some rays, it’s a vibrant beach that has something for everyone.
Plage de Maldorme
A pretty, pebbly horseshoe-shaped beach located just a stone’s throw from luxury hotel Le Petit Nice, the Plage de Maldorme is one of the busiest beaches during the summer owing to its easy accessibility and protection from the wind. Head down early to secure your spot before the masses descend and enjoy this secluded spot while it’s at its quietest – or hang around until later on to see people having fun and jumping off the boulders into the sea to cool off from the heat of the afternoon.
Plage Du Vallon Des Auffes
Set near a quaint old fishing harbour lined with colourful wooden boats and cosy, family-run restaurants, head over to the Plage du Vallon Des Auffes to take a dip in the sea and soak up the atmosphere, but be sure to bring a towel, because the only place to sunbathe here is on the rocks.
Although it’s not technically a beach, the Vallon Des Auffes deserves a mention because of its interesting history and welcoming atmosphere, with some excellent dining spots dotted along the harbour offering local favourites like bouillabaisse – a must try while in Marseille.
Calanque Port Pin
Despite being a little further afield, at around an hour’s walk from the city centre, this pristine and beautiful beach is a must visit during any stay in Marseille. The smallest of the three Calanques – sheltered inlets – in the area, here you can enjoy spectacular, unspoilt sands without the crowds. It isn’t the easiest beach to access, but it’s worth the effort if you’re up for the challenge, and makes for a quiet and peaceful spot to relax and enjoy.