Marseille with boats
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The very best boat trips from Marseille

From Calanque-hopping to sunset cruises, Marseille鈥檚 best boat trips are the way to make the most of the city鈥檚 Mediterranean setting

Alexis Steinman

Thanks to its prime perch on the Mediterranean, one of the best ways to see Marseille is by boat. Hit the high seas and it won’t take long to see why Protis – the legendary sailor said to have founded Marseille in 600 BC – was so smitten with the location.

Whether you fancy an all-day jaunt to the turquoise coves of the Calanques National Park or a quick ride to one of the charming fishing villages that lie in the port city’s outskirts, there’s an outing for everyone. And thanks to Marseille’s temperate climes, you can boat year-round. Just be sure to check the weather before you plan a trip: the famous mistral wind that speeds along this part of the coast can occasionally leave you landlocked.


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The best boat trips from Marseille

Boat tours of the Calanques

A boat ride in the Calanques National Park, to take in the breathtaking beauty of its limestone fjords and turquoise waters, is an essential Marseille experience.

The giant 150-to-250-person Compagnies Maritimes boats offer two different itineraries, with the longer Intégrale route taking in the gorgeous Cassis coves. If you’re looking to take a dip along the way, be sure to book the Baignade route. Prices start at €38 (£34, $40).

Prefer to spend more time snorkelling, swimming, and sunning? You’ll love Bleu Evasions calanques tours, with morning, afternoon, and evening outings that are ideal for group boat trips. Choose from an 8-to-12 person motorboat or a 24-person catamaran, with prices starting at €89 (£79$95). The company runs boats from both Marseilles and Cassis.

Want a private bateau? Click n’ Boat, the Airbnb of boats, rents vessels for every budget from several Marseille ports. The closest ones to the Calanques are Pointe-Rouge or Les Goudes. Be sure your skipper has a green pass to access the park: a new system to protect the Parc National’s fragile ecosystem.

And if you’re looking to combine sailing with eating (who wouldn’t?), check out the Levantin catamarans for a calanques or Côte Bleue brunch and a sunset dinner to Château d’If, with prices starting at €59 (£52, $63).

Boat trips to the 脦les du Frioul

The Îles du Frioul archipelago boasts the closest calanques to Marseille’s city centre. Rantonneau is known for its beautiful beaches, Pomègues is ideal for rambles in the limestone rocks, and If is home to Château d’If: the sixteenth-century prison made famous in the Alexandre Dumas novel ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’.

To explore Frioul, take the daily Le Bateau express shuttle from the Vieux-Port in Marseille. In summer, be sure to arrive early to avoid two-hour wait times.

For a more exclusive experience, the savvy skippers at Bleu Evasion will stop off at a handful of coves for swims, snorkelling and even tubing on request. The Compagnies Maritimes offers 50-minute-jaunts to and around If. If sailing is more your thing, Les Croisières du Foxy and La Flaneuse love showing guests the ropes on their sailboats.


Boat trips along the C么te Bleue

Just north of Marseille lies a string of pretty villages and turquoise coves: the Côte Bleue. Think of it as the Calanques National Park’s laidback cousin. Book a boat trip to the Blue Coast from Marseille with a local skipper via Balade en Mer or Click n’ Boat.

Essential stops include the Calanque de Méjean’s scenic port, Calanque de l’Erevine’s crystal blue waters and the Calanque du Jonquier: a bay beneath the stone archways of an imposing viaduct. The latter is next to Niolon, where you can stop for fresh fish at La Pergola (open daily from mid-February to mid-November). 

Make sure you confirm which Marseille port your boat will launch from – Vieux-Port and L’Estaque are the closest to the Côte Bleue.

Another option is to take the train to Carry le Rouet to embark on a boat tour with Croisières Cote Bleu. Their boats can accommodate 50-to-100 people, and the glass-bottomed Eaux Salées lets you spot sea life underwater without donning snorkelling gear.

Marseille鈥檚 ferries

RTM ferries, Marseille’s public transportation boats, are the cheapest way to get on the water – making them a great option for short boat trips.

La Navette runs from April to October and goes to three locations in the city. You can embark for L’Estaque: Marseille’s northernmost neighbourhood, known for its cute port and snack stands selling panisses (chickpea fritters) and chichis fregis (churro-esque doughnuts). Or there’s Pointe-Rouge’s sandy beach and seaside restaurants.

Alternatively, head to Les Goudes, the picturesque fishing village and gateway to the Calanques at Marseille’s southern tip. The ferries are the best way to reach Les Goudes when summer traffic clogs the roads.

Boats run from April to October and cost €5-€8 (£4.40-£7, $5.40-$8.60). Be sure to bring cash. You buy your tickets on board.

If you’re short on time, hop aboard the Ferry Boat to cross the Vieux-Port. Its five-minute-long, 283-yard route is rumoured to be the shortest ferry in the world, and it runs daily all year long for a fare of just €0.50.

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