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Port of Entry
43°17.82′N, 05°21.75′E Chart icon.png
Fort St Jean at the entrance to Vieux Port, Marseille

Marseille is the third largest city in France in terms of population and its largest commercial sea port. Originally a Greek settlement dating back to the 6th century BC, it subsequently became an important Roman port with the name of Massilia. An early and enthusiastic supporter of the French Revolution, the city gave its name to the revolutionary anthem La Marseillaise first sung by the armed force that marched from the city to Paris to support the new government. Occupied by the Nazis from November 1942, the city was badly damaged by the allies in 1944 in the course of preparing for the liberation of France and was subsequently rebuilt. Today Marseille is a thriving trading port, with over 100 million tonnes of goods passing through it each year, as well as a popular centre for yachting. The largest and oldest marina facilities are to be found in the Vieux Port, the most picturesque area of the old town, although it can be difficult to find space here during the season. However, there are additional mooring facilities at several further marinas around the gulf of Marseille (see below).

Marseille itself, as one might expect, is a busy and hectic city and space in all the city's marinas is at a premium at most times of the year. However, a few hours cruising out of Marseille is the idyllic cruising area of Les Calanques, a series of sea inlets sheltered by towering cliffs and lapped by turquoise-blue water. Even closer are the Iles de Frioul, a small archipelago with some quiet coves where a yacht can anchor away from the bustle and noise of the city (although one of the coves now hosts a 600-berth marina).


M15 Marseille to San Remo
British Admiralty
1705 Cabo San Sebastian to Iles d'Hyeres
2116 Fos-Sur-Mer to Marseille
153 Approaches to Marseille
151 Port of Marseille


The predominant pattern during the summer months is coastal seabreezes, however Marseille is also affected whenever there is a strong mistral blowing down the Rhone Valley (although winds here are slightly less strong than in the Rhone delta). Less frequently, Marseille may be affected by the scirocco, a hot southerly wind that blows up from the Sahara and can last for several days, depositing its cargo of dust over everything in sight.

Sources for Weather forecasts:



See comments above on the Iles de Frioul.


Also see World Cruiser's Nets.


The docks area and city of Marseille are visible from several miles off. Closer in, the lighthouse of Sainte Marie stands some 30 meters high at the headland marking the southern side of the entrance to the Vieux Port. Continue up the channel into the old port, leaving the Fort St Jean to port. Shelter in the Vieux Port is good in all but strong SW winds. Depths in the basin are at least 5.0 metres. (For details of approaches to the other marinas, see the relevant marina page).


Marseille is a port of entry/exit to France.

For entrance details see France.


If checking in to the Vieux Port, berth at the pontoon to the right of the entrance just outside the harbourmaster's office and ask for instructions. (For details of approaches to the other marinas, see the relevant marina page).

Marinas & Yacht Clubs


Although the original harbour of Marseille, the Vieux Port, is the biggest marina with over 3,000 berths, it is invariably packed during the season and getting a berth in here can be a bit of a lottery. Similarly, the two huge basins of Port de Corbieres and Port de L'Estaque at the NW end of the bay, with around 1500 berths, are usually crammed with private yachts and berths for casual visitors are not always available. If the Vieux Port is full, Port du Frioul on the Iles de Frioul often has berths available, as does Port de la Pointe Rouge at the SE end of the bay. The latter two marinas are a little out of the city, but there are ferry and bus links respectively for access to the centre. The marinas offer water and electricity at all berths and restaurants and other facilities are close at hand. If you can get into it, the Vieux Port is surrounded by some of the best bistros Marseille has to offer (but don't plan on a good night's sleep if you are a light sleeper)

For full details of all the Marseille marinas, click on the relevant link below.

From W to E around the gulf:

Yacht clubs

Cercle Nautique et Touristique du Lacydon

Quai Marcel Pagnol, 13007 Marseille
Tel:+33 (0)491 334484 Fax:+33 (0)491 334552
Operates pontoon berths on the S side of the Vieux Port.

Club Nautique L Pelle

2 Promenade Georges Pompidou, 13008 Marseille
Tel:+33 (0)491 712443 Fax:+33 (0)491 220326

Societe Nautique de Marseille

Pavillion Flottant, Quai de Rive Neuve, 13007 Marseille
Tel:+33 (0)491 543203/337355 Fax:+33 (0)491 334103
Operates pontoon berths on the S side of Vieux Port.


The Iles de Frioul offer several quiet bays away from the noise of Marseille (although one of the bays now contains the 600-berth marina of Port du Frioul). A few miles round the corner to the east lie the enchanting calanques, where quiet anchorages can be found out of season (although recent reports suggest they are beginning to fill up with permanent mooring buoys).

Marseille anchorages
Iles de Frioul anchorage
Les calanques
Les calanques

Yacht Repairs & Services

See marina entries.

Marine Stores

Submit addresses and contact details of marine related businesses that are of interest to cruisers.


See marina entries.

Fuel, Water, & Electricity

See marina entries.

Things to do Ashore


The old quarter of Marseilles, known locally as 'Le Panier' (the basket), was lovingly reconstructed following the devastation caused by World War II and is fun to explore. At the entrance to the Vieux Port, which sits at the heart of the old quarter, is the Fort St Jean, constructed in the 17th century on the orders of Louis XIV and now a museum. The basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde, built on a hill on the foundations of a 16th century fort, is worth the 20m minute trek S from the harbour, both for the sumptuous interior and the views over the city. A similar trek S along the coast road from the Vieux Port brings one to the Vallon des Auffes, a tiny, picturesque harbour crammed with fishing boats and surrounded by some excellent fish restaurants. The same distance NE brings you to the spectacular Longchamps Palace, an elaborate confection created in the 19th century to celebrate the completion of a new water supply to the city. The palace features some spectacular water gardens and several notable museums.

Marseille attractions
Typical old quarter street
The tiny harbour of Vallon des Auffes
Longchamps Palace

Grocery & Supply Stores

Supermarkets and provisions shops in the streets N of the Vieux Port.


Numerous restaurants and cafes on the waterfront of the Vieux Port.


See marina entries.


See marina entries.

Motorbike & Car Rentals

Numerous outlets in the city.

Garbage Disposal

See marina entries.


  • Good metro, tram and bus network in the city
  • Fast trains to Paris (3 hours)
  • International airport
  • Navette bus service between airport and station


Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.


List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)



See France.


We welcome users' contributions to the Wiki. Please click on Comments to view other users' comments, add your own personal experiences or recommend any changes to this page following your visit.

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