Updated: Oct 17, 2019
If you ever find yourself with only 10 hours to explore Marseille, France, these are some of the things you can do.
View of Marseille and the Mediterranean Sea from atop Norte-Dame de la Garde.
10 hours to Explore the South of France
If you are in this beautiful port city called Marseille, which is located in the South of France and only have a few hours to spare either from a layover, passing through on a road trip or just docking from a cruise (which my wife and I did) these are some of the things you can do in less than 10 hours to really immerse yourself in this fantastic French city. We recently took a Mediterranean trip on Costa Cruise and one of the port stops was in Marseille, France. We arrived to the port early in the morning, but unfortunately we only had 10 hours to explore the city. So with that being said, here are some cool things that we did in the allotted time.
Take an Uber to the Oldest Bakery in Town
Uber is definitely available in Marseille, so if you don't have wheels then I suggest you open up the Uber app and summon a driver. If you are a big foodie like me (which I'm guessing you are if you are reading this travel and food blog), then I suggest you pay a visit to the oldest bakery in town - Four des Navettes. This bakery has been in business since 1781 and is located on the Sacred Way (Voie Sacrée). It's a very small shop and they sell their popular orange-scented navettes in a box of 12 or 24 pieces. The bakery also still uses the 18th century oven to make the navettes.
Inside Four des Navettes, the oldest bakery in Marseille.
It was my first time trying a navette and it was hard to resist the orange-scent. The texture was harder than I imagined and personally I think it's an acquired taste. I wasn't there long enough to ask if it was best served with a coffee or some other drink because it was quite dry after you take your first bite. It was still worth checking out though due to the historical nature of being in business for over 200 years!
These orange-scented biscuits are hard as a rock.
Walk to Norte-Dame de la Garde
After checking-out Four des Navettes, you should walk to the iconic basilica, Norte-Dame de la Garde. The walk to this ancient place of worship was very enjoyable because you get to walk through some very cute neighborhoods and see how Marseille residents live. The distance from the bakery to the basilica is only about 1 kilometer (just over 1/2 a mile) and took 15 to 20 minutes to walk there. When you walk around the various blocks you begin to imagine what life is like here. There are narrow roads with cozy little homes that dot along the well-kept streets while you knock out your daily steps. It's a great experience that makes you think about your own neighborhood and comparing it to how they live.
It's always fun walking through small neighborhoods like this one in Marseille, France.
When you cross the intersection of Rue Vauvenargues and Montée de l'Oratoire, you'll encounter an old tank called, Le char Jeanne d'Arc. This World War II tank supported the French military by the German attack on Norte-Dame de la Garde. It was severely destroyed with three of it's five crewed killed. After renovation, it was left here as a reminder of the freedom gained from German occupation.
Details, details, details inside Norte-Dame de la Garde.
The Norte-Dame de la Garde basilica is just a short walk up a hill from Le char Jeanne d'Arc. This is the highest natural point in Marseille and it's most popular. You really get some incredible views of the entire region and the blue Mediterranean Sea. Inside, you will be amazed by the attention-to-detail. Everything from the brown and cream stripes that seamlessly blend with the curves, gold domes and the artwork is just amazing. It does get fairly crowded inside because it's a big tourist destination.
Exterior view of Norte-Dame de la Garde.
Grab Lunch at La Boîte à Sardine
If you want to enjoy a great sidewalk seafood lunch then head over to La Boîte à Sardine. This blue-painted, cozy corner restaurant offers fresh seafood such as spiny Mediterranean lobster, deep-fried sardines, shrimp and calamari. I definitely recommend trying to get a table outside, especially if it's a sunny day. Inside is tight, where you will also notice a lot of old sardine cans used as decor where the variety of colors adds to the ambiance.
Absolutely entertaining French service and delicious lunch at La Boîte à Sardine.
The service is top-notch, definitely French. Each server wears a dark blue apron and the menus are vintage chalkboard (old wooden boxes). You definitely should order a bottle of white wine (we really enjoyed the Desir Blanc). You will also notice that the salt and pepper aren't in typical shakers (see photo below).
Crush your own black pepper and add a pinch of salt to your lunch.
Can't miss out on these delicious sardines, so crispy!
These calamari were extremely succulent and tender.
To learn how to properly eat this shrimp, please watch the video I shared above the photo of the salt and pepper.
Stroll Down to the Old Port of Marseille
After being stuffed by a nice lunch, walk off those calories towards the Old Port of Marseille. It's a very easy walk down on La Canebière street and should only take you about 25 to 30 minutes. Along La Canebière you'll see plenty of shops, restaurants and buildings like the Le Palais de la Bourse, which is the oldest chamber of commerce in the world.
Le Palais de la Bourse is the oldest chamber of commerce building in the world.
I like stopping by small newspaper stands whenever I visit a country to see what's on the front page of local newspapers and postcards. Doing this reaffirms that you are really there (practicing mindfulness)! You'll encounter a few of these while you walk towards the Old Port of Marseille.
La Provence news stand in Marseille, France.
As you finally arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, you'll know when you see the big ferris wheel. From this point you'll either be nearing your 10 hour time limit or you may have a couple hours to spare. There's a lot happening in this area and as the saying goes time flies when you are having fun. I hope you enjoyed reading the things you can do in Marseille in less than 10 hours it all ended up being a very memorable day and we even got our steps (exercise) in. Don't forget to comment below!
Finished exploring Marseille, France in less than 10 hours!