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Marseille Boat Tours

The Bay of Marseille is one of the great tourist attractions of this city and therefore a boat trip is an idea that you should seriously consider visiting.

Keyvis Montilva

Keyvis Montilva

12 min read

Marseille Boat Tours

Marseille | ©Jean et Coco

One of the best things to do in Marseille are boat trips, both in the city's bay and in the nearby communities. This has to do with the fact that Marseille is a port city and the sea has always been a very important element for this community.

In this article I will talk about the best options for boat trips in Marseille. In addition, you will discover everything you need to know to enjoy this experience in the most favorable way for your logistics and pocket by knowing some of the things to see or do in Marseille.

1. A walk around the Calanques with brunch included

Las Calanques National Park| ©travelmag.com
Las Calanques National Park| ©travelmag.com

The National Park Des Calanques is one of the most important natural corners of the French south coast region as well as of the Marseille metropolitan area. In fact, if you look at the map of this city you can see that this geological formation that extends for about 20 km in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Calanques are a kind of coves that have become a favorite destination for Marseillais, tourists and other inhabitants of this area of France for its calm turquoise waters. They extend into the interior of the mountains like Norwegian fjords and are the perfect escape from the high summer temperatures.

Now, this boat tour usually lasts several hours so that people who participate in this tour, which is one of the best tours in Marseille, can enjoy the most of this natural scenery. In addition, its sailing itinerary usually allows people to enjoy the national park for a couple of hours uninterruptedly.

It is usually a catamaran and, depending on the characteristics of the service hired, it is likely to be a shared experience or reserved for a single family group. This is as long as there is a minimum number of 12 to 15 people. You should also know that in most of the occasions drinks and brunch are usually offered.

Details of interest

  • Price: the rate per person for a boat ride with these characteristics is usually more than 150 euros. If the prices are lower then it is very likely that we are talking about a large boat with a capacity for more than 25 or 30 people.
  • Duration: the duration of a trip to this national park departing from the bay of Marseille is usually at least 5 hours.
  • Means of transport: it is possible that it is a catamaran or a sailboat. Motor-driven boats are also common.
  • Advantages of this option: this national park is one of the major natural attractions of Marseille and the whole south of France. Which is no small thing, knowing that it is one of the most beautiful regions of the whole country.
  • Disadvantages of this option: definitely not too affordable rates for those with tighter budgets.

Book a boat trip in Calanques

2. A sunset tour of the Marseille coastline

Coast of Marseille| ©Alexey Komarov
Coast of Marseille| ©Alexey Komarov

On the other hand, there is also the possibility that you are only interested in touring Marseille and its coastline in a short tour that focuses on visiting the most iconic sites of the bay. This type of tour usually takes place throughout the day, but undoubtedly the most interesting are those that occur at sunset because they offer privileged views of this imposing city.

The basic sites that are usually part of the itinerary of this type of tour are the beaches that are located along the southern end of the city starting with the Catalans and reaching those of the red bridge. This allows participants to enjoy a very nice perspective of this part of the city center of Marseille.

On the other hand, the island of the Château d'If along with the island of Ratonneau are other basic parts of this type of itinerary. You have to know that this kind of walks are significantly shorter than those with Calanques as destination, but at the same time they are more appropriate for all seasons of the year. Especially for those who have little time to enjoy all the wonders that Marseille has to offer.

In fact, for this reason, the walks along the Marseille coast and the islands closest to the old port of the city, are one of those ideal plans for those who have a four-day trip to Marseille. Especially because they are an activity that can occupy part of the day while the rest of the day can be devoted to visits to other major attractions found on the mainland.

Details of interest

  • Price: these types of boat tours are usually a bit more economical and the average rate is usually around 70 or 80 euros per person. There may be cheaper experiences, but we would be talking about a much larger boat for a larger number of people.
  • Duration: a tour similar to the one I have described in the bay of Marseille usually lasts about two hours at the most. It may take a little longer if you include dinner on board.
  • Means of transport: catamarans and sailboats can be used, but it is much more common to choose a small conventional motor boat for short trips.
  • Advantages of this option: it is much more favorable for people with less time and a tighter budget.
  • Disadvantages of this option: after half an hour it can be overwhelming the idea of being on a boat that you will never get off until you return to the embarkation point. Especially if it is a boat with too many people.

Book a boat trip in Las Calanques

3. A 3-day boat trip with stop in Marseille

Les Goudes| ©ringo 13013
Les Goudes| ©ringo 13013

There is a third alternative quite convenient for those who wish to spend much more time in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. This is a sailing trip over two nights and three days that would include a snorkeling session as well as a kayaking session.

Such an experience is reserved for a very limited number of people, usually no more than eight participants. You should know that the sailing itinerary changes all the time, but the most common is to go along all the coasts around the Marseille metropolitan area passing by places such as Les Goudes, Morgiou and Port Pin.

This is an activity that includes meals and drinks in an intimate and exclusive atmosphere. But you should know that the expenses are entirely on your own at each of the stops you make on the itinerary around Marseille.

The starting point of the activity is usually the old port of the city and it is also usually the point of return. When touring the areas closest to Marseille, the Frioul Islands and the Château d'If are usually part of the itinerary.

Details of interest

  • Price: the average price is around 300 euros although it is possible to go down to 270 euros.
  • Duration: the tour as such usually takes about 70 hours approximately. The ship usually leaves the port at 10 a.m. and returns at the same time after spending two nights at sea.
  • Means of transportation: it is almost always a sailboat, but it can also be a catamaran with cabin.
  • Advantages of this option: it is the ideal option for those who are eager to sail as long as possible around the Mediterranean.
  • Disadvantages of this option: if you have little time to get to know Marseille then this is an alternative too limiting and significantly expensive.

Book a boat trip in Calanques

4. A snorkeling and kayak tour to Cassis

Marseille by Kayak| ©Jeanne Menjoulet
Marseille by Kayak| ©Jeanne Menjoulet

There is also the possibility to tour the south coast of Marseille with a much more sporty and extreme approach. There are some boat tours that are specifically oriented to allow participants to have a long kayaking session in the calm waters of the Calanques. As well as a good snorkeling session in the crystal clear waters of this national park.

At the same time there is the fact that these boat tours in Marseille stand out because they offer the possibility of knowing from the coast the small port of Cassis. Cassis is a nearby fishing village that also has a thriving wine industry and is right at the western end of the Des Calanques national park.

As with the rest of the boat tours in Marseille, they are likely to take place in both catamarans and sailboats. Although in busy tourist seasons, larger capacity boats may be available so that several family groups can participate in the experience simultaneously.

Details of interest

  • Price: the price of a boat ride with these characteristics is quite similar to the other alternatives I have mentioned. They usually cost around 180 or 200 euros per person in case they include some drinks and snacks.
  • Duration: the duration of these boat rides is usually about 4 or 5 hours in total, although it all depends on the wind speed as well as the number of participants.
  • Means of transportation: it is most likely to be a sailboat, but it is also possible that it is a small tourist cruiser with capacity for 30 to 40 people.
  • Advantages of this option: this alternative is ideal for those who wish to exercise a little by navigating the calm waters of Las Calanques with a safe kayak ride.
  • Disadvantages of this option: The entertainment of this activity is very oriented to the snorkeling session and the kayak ride. So if you do not plan to participate in these two things then this is not a recommended plan.

How to book a boat trip in Marseille?

Book Online| ©Glenn Carstens-Peters
Book Online| ©Glenn Carstens-Peters

You have at your disposal different alternatives to book a boat ride in Marseille no matter what are the characteristics of this tour. One of them can be to hire this service in a tourist agency in the city. It is possible that these are in high demand during the high season.

However, the best alternative of all will always be to make an online reservation. Especially because through the Internet you have the possibility to cancel your purchase for free in most of the occasions as well as to observe the reviews of other clients about the experience you are about to hire.

In fact, nowadays most of the tourist services in cities like Marseille are booked through the Internet. Therefore, if you decide to opt for one of the best bike tours in Marseille it is also likely that the best alternative you have at your disposal is on some online platform.

Book a boat tour in the Calanques

Duration of the boat tours in Marseille

Boat trip| ©Rémi Avignon
Boat trip| ©Rémi Avignon

If you want to talk about the duration of the boat trips in Marseille, you have to know that they will always be approximate references. Each boat trip is unique because it depends on the swell of the moment as well as the speed of the winds. These two factors determine the speed at which the boat sails.

Anyway, it can be said that the boat trips in Marseille that focus only on the bay usually last a maximum of three hours, while the boat trips that reach other nearby places such as the national park Des Calanques or the coastal town of Cassis usually last at least 5 hours.

Book a boat trip in the Calanques

What will I see on this type of tour?

Boating in Marseille| ©Josy Mollien
Boating in Marseille| ©Josy Mollien

The first thing you need to know about the scenery you will appreciate on this type of boat tour is that for most of the trip you will have a panoramic view of the Marseille skyline. Depending on your tastes and interests this can be a real privilege, since Marseille is one of the great French metropolis and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities of the Mediterranean coast of this country.

On the other hand, in the tours that go a little further away from the bay of Marseille you will find a slightly different landscape. This will be much more natural and will be mostly composed of rocky coasts with some prominent cliffs. This is quite logical and understandable, as a good part of the Côte d'Azur has significant relief due to its proximity to the French Alps.

Anyway, if you are interested in the idea of further exploring the natural beauty that characterizes this southern region of France then you should be interested in knowing how to get from Marseille to Avignon. Especially for the fact that this trip offers you the opportunity to enjoy different landscapes while exploring the most important and beautiful cities of this part of the country.

Book a boat trip in Calanques

Tips for a boat trip in Marseille

Sun protection| ©Moose Photos
Sun protection| ©Moose Photos

There are several tips to keep in mind when taking a boat trip in Marseille, but one of the most important will always be not to forget the sunscreen. In this kind of trips the sun incidence is much more significant, since the UV rays bounce off the surface of the water and reach your skin with greater intensity.

The next tip I can give you to make the most of your boat trip in Marseille is to eat sufficiently before the experience. This is especially if we are talking about a tour that does not include drinks or snacks. The truth is that being in the middle of the sea hungry can become a very uncomfortable experience for both children and adults.

Finally, the other recommendation that is usually made is to always book in advance this service for the date and time that suits you. This is because we are talking about one of the best things to do in Marseille in summer and the hundreds of thousands of tourists who come to the city during this time of the year will have the same interest in participating in this activity.

How much does a boat trip in Marseille cost?

Money in Euros| ©Ibrahim Boran
Money in Euros| ©Ibrahim Boran

Giving a specific figure of how much a boat ride in Marseille costs can be a very complicated task because the prices of this tourist service vary depending on the time of the year. They also vary depending on the number of participants and activities included in the itinerary.

The most common is that if the tour includes drinks and meals, the price exceeds 80 or 90 euros per person. In turn, if it includes the accompaniment of a guide specialized in the history of the city, prices will also exceed these figures.

Rates are also higher in longer tours, which is logical, since being inside a boat for five or six hours is not an economical experience anywhere in the world. Especially if they are comfortable boats that are reserved for a very limited group of people. In this case the rates can be around 150 euros per person.

So my recommendation is to always go for the cheapest alternative. Especially knowing that food and drinks can be enjoyed to a greater extent and with better quality through the best gastronomic tours in Marseille, which offer you the opportunity to explore with your palate the cultural identity of this place.

Book a boat tour on the Calanques

Why is it advisable to take a boat trip in Marseille?

A rainy day for sailing| ©Max Ofmars
A rainy day for sailing| ©Max Ofmars

Among the reasons why it is advisable to take a boat trip in Marseille is the fact that this is a city in which the sea and its port have always been the two most important elements for its economic prosperity as well as for its historical relevance.

So sailing the waters of the bay allows you to live the Marseille experience at its best. At the same time, it is a very appropriate activity for the whole family. In fact, it is one of the best things to do in Marseille with children, as it is a plan that is entertaining for people of all ages and with all kinds of interests.

What are the advantages of taking a guided tour vs. touring Marseille on a boat on my own?

Boats in Marseille| ©johannes Hartzheim
Boats in Marseille| ©johannes Hartzheim

Among the advantages of participating in a guided tour versus renting a boat to navigate the bay of Marseille on your own, is the economic savings. Renting a boat for a couple of hours with a capacity of four or six people in the port of Marseille is something that can easily exceed 1000 euros. In addition, you also need to have all the relevant navigation permits.

However, if you are too eager to experience the opportunity to tour Marseille and its attractions on your own by land you can make use of public transport or the best Marseille Hop On Hop Off buses that follow a fixed and pre-established route, but which is very practical to move from end to end by the most touristy area of the city.

Book a boat ride on the Calanques