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10 Things to Do in Marseille in Summer

Spending the summer in the French Riviera is an excellent idea for those who want to know one of the most beautiful areas of this country. And what better way to do it than in the city of Marseille, which is the largest city in this region.

Keyvis Montilva

Keyvis Montilva

10 min read

10 Things to Do in Marseille in Summer

Marseille | ©Paul Keller

The best things to see and do in Marseille change throughout each season and right in the summer some of the most important events and traditions of the whole year take place. At the same time, this is the season with the highest number of tourists and Marseille being an important port center does not escape from this beneficial reality.

So I advise you to keep reading this compilation that includes plans from June to the end of September to enjoy the Marseille experience to the fullest both attending the best festivals and enjoying its main summer attractions.

1. Enjoy electronic music in Marsatac

Marsatac| ©Tigrane Dirad
Marsatac| ©Tigrane Dirad

Electronic music is quite important for the tourist industry within the Mediterranean and in the city of Marseille in mid-June one of the best festivals dedicated to this fun and youthful music genre takes place. It is usually a three-day event that runs from Friday to Sunday right in the second or third week of the month.

The artists that are part of the event are usually relevant both nationally and internationally and it is also common that in the smaller stages of the festival are invited to Marseille artists who are having local relevance. This is to increase their reach among a much larger and diverse audience.

The festival's venue is constantly changing, but in recent years the Borely Park has been chosen. This is due to the fact that it is quite accessible to people from all parts of the city as well as the beauty that characterizes this public space.

At the same time, the fact that the event lasts a whole weekend and that it starts late is quite favorable so that you can dedicate your morning to other activities such as the best tours of Marseille.

Details of interest:

  • Price: ticket rates change every year, but most commonly a three-day pass costs 85 euros while a single-day pass costs about 35 euros.

Book the best tours in Marseille

2. You can also dance at Delta Festival

At the Delta Festival| ©Kezia Sakho
At the Delta Festival| ©Kezia Sakho

On the other hand, if a music festival still sounds interesting to you during the month of August and your visit to the city coincides with these dates then the Delta Festival is something you should not miss. It is a festival that also focuses on electronic music, but in this case it involves other musical genres as well as all kinds of immersive installations that incorporate scenic and structural art.

The event usually takes place during the second or third week of August and in this case we usually talk about a festival that lasts a greater number of days, as it is usually a full week or at least five continuous days.

In spite of being an event very focused towards the youth, it is characterized for having a very familiar atmosphere. Therefore, depending on the number of artists that are invited it is possible that it is an activity recommended to do with children.

It is also a very favorable option for those who have a four-day trip to Marseille, especially because the tickets can be purchased individually for each day and this means that you can complement it with the sightseeing tour that you are probably interested in doing.

Details of interest

  • Price: normally, a five-day ticket costs approximately €100 and a one-day ticket costs €30.

3. Celebrate Bastille Day

Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica| ©Jorge Láscar
Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica| ©Jorge Láscar

France's national day is celebrated in mid-summer, on July 14. This national holiday was instituted in 1880 and symbolizes the end of the absolute monarchy, as well as representing the union of the French nation and the celebration of its republican sovereignty. Throughout the country, the French celebrate this day both in special parades and in popular or private festivities.

For this reason, if you have the privilege of visiting Marseille on Bastille Day, you cannot miss the opportunity to participate in one of the many activities organized by the city council.

Chances are that in the old port there will be several commemorative events and that in places like the Borely Park or the Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde locals will gather to enjoy the fireworks display.

It is certainly a date especially recommended for party ing in some of the most bohemian and eclectic areas of the city. It is also a very appropriate holiday to make a short getaway to one of the villages near Marseille. Therefore, you should take a look at some of the best tours of Provence from Marseille, as they will help you explore this beautiful and unique region.

4. Experience St. John's Day French style

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

On June 23rd, Mediterranean communities celebrate the feast of St. John, a date that coincides with the change from spring to summer and has been an important holiday since before Christ.

Marseille and other cities of the French Riviera have their own version of this event and basically it is an evening in which the people of Marseille go to the beaches to have a popular party in which several bonfires will be lit. This is a symbol of burning all that is bad and opening the space for collective prosperity.

There is folk dancing and above all lots of alcohol and it is a good way to get acquainted with the traditions of this part of France.

Plus, it's the perfect follow up to a day when you decide to take part in some of the best boat tours in Marseille ideal for you to kick off the summer by touring the city's shores and venturing to the best beaches in the Parc National Des Calanques.

5. Come to the Festival of dance and multiple arts Marseille

MuCEM| ©Fred Romero
MuCEM| ©Fred Romero

Another highly recommended event to enjoy during a visit to the city of Marseille is to participate in one of the activities organized as part of the Festival of Dance and Multiple Arts Marseille.

This is an annual event that proposes an integration of theater, music, cinema, dance and art exhibitions throughout the city. All with the intention of showing the most modern and creative side of this community.

There is no specific venue or price range, as hundreds of events and activities take place in various cultural establishments in Marseille from June to September. However, it is very likely that several activities will take place in some of Marseille' s best museums and especially in public parks such as the Henri-Fabre or the François Billoux Park.

In fact, you have to keep in mind that many of the festival events are completely free, while others will need to be booked well in advance. This is because they are plays with a limit on the capacity of the establishment or because they are a little more exclusive.

6. Experience Assumption Day

Saint-Laurent Church| ©Thomas Gorman
Saint-Laurent Church| ©Thomas Gorman

The Day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is celebrated every year on August 15 and in France, as well as in many European countries, it is a national holiday. Each locality interprets this Catholic celebration according to the patron saint they have in their city and in the case of Marseille the whole event revolves around the Virgin of Panier.

Exactly for this reason, the festivity begins with a procession that takes place throughout the entire neighborhood of Le Panier until it reaches the church of Saint-Laurent.

However, all along the streets it is likely that religious events are taking place or that the Marseillais are simply taking advantage of the holiday to go out to eat and enjoy the most attractive sites of the city.

So it can be said that participating in this festivity or at least touring the neighborhood of Le Panier on this date is one of the best things to do in Marseille in August, which is a month that has no more local or national holidays.

7. Contemplate the sunset at La Friche de la Belle de Mai

La Friche de la Belle de Mai| ©Michel CIRODDE
La Friche de la Belle de Mai| ©Michel CIRODDE

A quite distinctive factor of the city of Marseille and its cultural identity is the reinvention of spaces to make them more and more public, especially when it comes to places that in the past had an industrial purpose. In this context, La Friche de la Belle de Mai is a site not to be missed during your summer visit.

It is the site of a former tobacco factory that since 1992 has dedicated its 45,000 m² to the expression of art in all its forms. Throughout the summer months there are likely to be several exhibitions of contemporary art, many open-air cinema screenings, some concerts, a lot of theater and especially several nights of street art and Marseille party.

Visiting this place is part of the best things to do in Marseille with children because there are activities suitable for people of all ages.

8. Don't hesitate to visit the best beaches in the area

Marseille Beach| ©Janene
Marseille Beach| ©Janene

Marseille and its surroundings are full of beaches that will seduce tourists and locals alike. This city is located in the French Riviera, which is the most beautiful part of Mediterranean France. At least when it comes to enjoying the sea and the continental coast.

For this reason, venturing out of the city to explore other small towns in the region is something recommended especially if you participate in the routes that are part of the best bike tours in Marseille. This is because it's a plan that involves a bit of sporty exercise with the possibility of a nice swim at some of the best beaches in the country.

The ones between L'Estanque and Miramas are some of the best, but any other nearby destination would be an excellent idea. In fact, traveling west towards Nice, Cannes and Monaco is also an excellent plan for a summer-long exploration of this part of the French Mediterranean.

9. Walk from Les Catalans beach to the Prado beaches

Prado Beach| ©Ratozamanana Andriankoto
Prado Beach| ©Ratozamanana Andriankoto

In fact, if the idea of leaving Marseille to go to the beach and enjoy the good summer weather is not something that interests you too much, you can still take a short walk from Les Catalans beach to the Prado beaches, as both have an excellent promenade with all kinds of cafes, restaurants and family entertainment spaces.

Actually the Prado beaches are a bit more recommended if you want to swim in the sea. That while all the ones from this point towards the beach of Le Catalans are better alternatives to observe the landscape from the viewpoints that have available to the public.

Anyway, this is a plan that takes up half of your day and despite being one of the best things of the summer there is no doubt that it can be enjoyed with other activities such as rides on the best tour buses in Marseille, which will bring you closer to other major attractions of the city for little money and in record time.

10. Attend a match at the Orange Velodrome

Orange Velodrome| ©Etienne Baudon
Orange Velodrome| ©Etienne Baudon

Sport and specifically soccer is quite important to the French and the Marseille city team is based at the Orange Velodrome stadium. This site is impressive for its architectural beauty as well as its large dimensions.

At the same time, visiting it during the summer is one of the best ideas you can have for the opportunity to enjoy a match full of fans of this Ligue 1 team. This knowing that the season starts in mid-August and therefore there are more than a month and a half of summer nights to enjoy sporting events in this important Marseille stadium.

You have to keep in mind that this is a plan to be developed at night because most of the matches take place at that time of the day. So you can perfectly do other activities on the same date and I advise you that one of them are the best gastronomic tours in Marseille, especially because they will help you to get familiar with the flavors of the city so that you can continue exploring them on your own.

Temperatures in Marseille in summer

Summer in Marseille| ©Dion Hinchcliffe
Summer in Marseille| ©Dion Hinchcliffe

Throughout the summer in Marseille you will encounter different temperature ranges. This is because in July and August the maximum temperatures are likely to exceed 35 °C while at the end of September they will almost certainly not get above 30 °C.

The same goes for the minimum temperatures, as in June they will still remain below 20 °C while in August it is almost impossible to get close to those figures.

Tourist flow in Marseille in summer

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

Summer is the busiest tourist season for the city of Marseille all year round and this means that most tourist services will be in very significant demand. Therefore, my biggest recommendation will always be to book as many activities as possible in advance, as this guarantees that you will be able to participate in them on the date and at the time of your choice.

Prices in Marseille in summer

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

At the same time, summer is the most expensive time of the year to visit Marseille for the simple reason that the limited supply and excessive demand makes hotels, transportation and other services a bit more expensive.

This is why many of the activities I have recommended to you are free of charge. Also, fortunately, this is a city where public spaces abound so that people can entertain themselves without spending too much money.

What to pack for a summer visit to Marseille?

Luggage| ©tookapic
Luggage| ©tookapic

If you intend to visit Marseille during the summer then your suitcase should include a good sunscreen, comfortable and breathable clothes and, above all, appropriate footwear both for walking around the city and for visiting the different beaches.