Not necessarily the first choice for a beach holiday, Marseille has a great choice of seaside places to choose from along its southern coast. There are beaches for surfing and others more suited to families with children. The sea is clear and blue and the beaches a mix of pebbles or sand.
The city aims to keep the water and beaches clean by continuously monitoring the water for pollution and keeping a log at each lifeguard station. Also available from the life guards are disposable ashtrays. The water temperature is very pleasant in the summer although a few degrees cooler in the deeper waters of the Calanques.
Also at the lifeguard stations the larger beaches have lockers and can also provide fluorescent bracelets for children on which you can write their/your details.
Many people take the cross channel ferry when they’re going to Marseille If you’re planning on taking the ferry to France and driving down to Marseille it’s suggested you leave the car at your hotel when going to the beaches as the regular bus service is much easier. Some places have shuttle buses such as the Batobus that operates from the Old Port to Pointe Rouge. Here are some of the best beaches in close proximity to the city.
Plage des Catalans
This beach, the closest to the Old Port (10 minutes) is a sandy beach that is patrolled by a lifeguard and is great for volleyball. There are plenty of places for food and drink and a great view over to the Château d’If. It’s particularly close to the town which is a benefit to many people but others find it too busy.
Plage du Prophète
Another sandy beach a bit further down the coast is the Plage du Prophète, also good for volleyball. Lifeguards are on patrol and it’s a good spot for families for picnics and BBQs although there is a snack bar. There are also showers.
Overlooking the beach there’s the restaurant La Cantine du Prophète. On certain days they have a DJ and it stays open until late.
Parc Balnéaire du Prado
This is a large park with a series of beaches split into separate areas. The first beach is Plage du Roucas Blanc with sailing and canoeing, volleyball and a diving platform. There’s also a solarium, showers, bars across the road from the beach and a small playground for children. A lifeguard is on patrol.
The next beach is Plage Planches à voile and is great for windsurfing and kite surfing. It’s sandy and wide but quite close to the road so not so quiet.
Parc Borély, Plage Borély and Plage Bonneveine are great beaches with restaurants on the beachfront plus a number of bars and cafes. You can hire sun beds, fish off the rocks or go skateboarding, and for children there’s a play area. The area is patrolled by a lifeguard.
Plage de la Vieille Chapelle,is at the far end of the parc, a pebble beach that’s well screened by rocks and has clean shallow water that appeals to fishermen.
Plage de la Pointe Rouge
This small sandy beach is lined with restaurants in a great setting and perfect for eating out in a more rustic fashion. There’s a marina and swimming pool here too. You can rent a pedalo or jet-ski and there’s a lifeguard station.
This is fairly close to Marseille and consists of the Vallon des Auffes, the Vallon de Malmousque, the Vallon de la Fausse Monnaie and the Vallon de l’Oriel. They’re not beaches but rocky inlets that people use to swim off. Some, but not all have restaurant facilities.
There are a few other places but these are the main beach areas. To get to Marseille the ferry to France is good for families as it’s particularly good value and the car ferry means you can take all the beach gear you need.