Don't Miss in Marseille
Marseille's charming markets: Most are open daily between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. The Fish Market (near Le Petit Train departure point on Quai des Belges) is a local institution and a lively spot where you'll see local restaurateurs -- and possibly your ship's chef -- haggling for that day's catch. A better spot for foodies in search of take-home goodies is Les Halles de la Major, a gourmet food market set in the vaults of Marseille's La Major Cathedral.
Ile de Chateau d'If: This pretty island is a 20-minute boat ride from Le Vieux Port's Quai des Belges and is home to the 16th-century fortress-turned-prison described by Alexandre Dumas in his famous novel, "The Count of Monte Cristo." Ferries run by GACM (049 155 5009) and operate hourly from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (weather permitting). Round trip costs 50 euro-cents. The Chateau opens daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m; entrance fee is 5.50 euro.
Basilique Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde: This 19th-century Catholic basilica sits at the top of Marseille's highest point, La Garde Hill; it can be a tricky walk up, but the effort is worth it for the sweeping views of the Mediterranean. (Note: The petit train stops here and waits awhile, so those too unfit, time-strapped or -- let's face it -- lazy to manage the uphill hike can always let the train take the strain.) (Rue Fort-du-Sanctuaire; open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; free entrance)
Cathedrale de la Major: This lovely cathedral is one of Europe's largest and is celebrated for its multi-colored marble altar and Turkish-style dome. Once you've taken in the architecture, head to the vaults, where shops now occupy the arches that once served as port warehouses. (Place de la Major; open daily except Monday, October to March from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and April to September from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; free entrance.)
Le Musee Cantini: Marseille's modern art museum is housed in a splendid 17th-century mansion and is both inspiring and affordable. (19 rue Grignan; 33 49 1 54 77 75 04; open October to March, Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and April to September from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; entrance 3 euro)
Palais Longchamp: Built to celebrate completion of a 19th-century canal that brought water into the city from the River Durance, this splendidly elaborate colonnaded water tower is a visual treat. You'll find Marseille's Fine Art Museum in one vast wing and the Natural History Museum in the other (3 euro to enter, or free with a Marseille City Pass). There are also acres of spectacular parkland and botanical gardens to explore here, so it's a good option if you like to spend time in the fresh air. (Boulevard du Jardin Zoologique, 13004 Marseille; accessible via the Cinq Avenues Longchamp stop on Metro line 1; museums open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Mondays)
Bargain hunting: Head to one of Marseille's main shopping thoroughfares, the pedestrian-only rue St Ferrell in Le Vieux Port, to browse shops selling regional specialities and craftware. Or blow away the cobwebs and dodge the tourist crowds with a stroll along the Cornice President JF Kennedy, which overlooks the glittering Mediterranean on one side and has shops, cafes, gardens and restaurants on the other.
MuCEM: The Musee des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Mediterranee is a futuristic, architect-designed waterfront museum which was built at the entrance to Le Vieux Port to celebrate Marseille's tenure as a European Capital of Culture 2013. It offers fascinating insight into the city's importance as a melting pot for many European cultures. (7 Promenade Robert Laffont; 33 48 4 35 13 13; open daily except Tuesdays, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in summer, and to 6 p.m. in winter)