Marseille - City of Culture
This is the guide in English for all things about Marseille.
This page gives details of transport to, in and around Marseille
Our preferred option, take the TGV (3 hours from Paris) and you arrive at the newly refurbished Gare St Charles train station in the centre of the city, no messing around with airport transfers. If you're taking the train don't forget to stamp (composter) your ticket, using the little yellow machines at the entrance to the platforms, before you board the train, otherwise you may have to pay an on the spot fine. When you arrive, if you’re heading for the Vieux Port, where you'll find the main tourist office, take metro line 1 (direction La Fourragère).
Marseille has one airport (Marseille Provence Airport) which has two terminal buildings, a traditional one for traditional airlines and MP2 for budget airlines.
Navette Bus: Gare Saint Charles / Marseille Airport
Taxis can be expensive so try the navette bus. It leaves every 15 minutes from outside terminal 1 and runs directly to Gare Saint Charles train station, right in the centre of Marseille. An English version of the schedule for the navette bus is available.
Take the car if you must, but we don't recommend it. Marseille struggles to cope with its traffic.
Marseille is becoming increasingly popular stop for cruise ships.
In summer you can also take a boat from the Vieux Port to Pointe Rouge (a beach at the southern edge of Marseille) see public transport below. There is a regular ferry service to the Chateau d'If and Iles de Frioul and a number of operators do visits by boat to the Calanques and Cassis. You'll find these at the Vieux Port.
Within Marseille there is a joined up public transport system (RTM) involving trams, metro and buses with a single ticketing system. You can use the same ticket on bus, tram and metro. It is valid for one hour. You must validate the ticket every time you transfer. On trams and trains the machines are on the platforms, on metros they are at the entrance to platforms and on buses they are by the front door.
You can get a plan of the system from the welcome desks (accueil) in the main metro stations. The system is improving.
During the summer you can take a boat from the Vieux Port to Pointe Rouge and l'Estaque. From 13 April to 13 October it runs every hour between 7.30am and 7.30pm but between 15 May until 15 September it runs 3 times an hour until 10.30pm. It costs 3€ for a one way journey (you can use the ticket within 90 minutes of its first validation on the metro, bus and tram). Tickets are sold on the boats. More details (if French) here.
Local trains and coaches
To go further afield the main train station is Gare Saint Charles. Long distance coaches, including fast coaches to Aix (50), go from the back of Gare Saint Charles. There are buses to Aubagne (100) and Cassis (M8) from outside Castellane metro station. Both metro lines run to Castellane.
There are plenty of taxis but they're not cheap.
If you prefer to travel under your own steam try the new automated cycle hire system. You need to register. You can do this at the Velo stations if you have a bank card. You will find details on the levelo site. We understand that if you don't return the bikes by midnight they will not be accepted until the following day and you will be charged another day's rental. So don't assume you can use them instead of buses to get around at night.
The metro does not have lifts/elevators. Most stations have escalators but also have steps, so it is difficult, if not impossible, to gain access if you are in a wheelchair, have mobility problems or children in pushchairs. People are generally very helpful if you are struggling. Trams are more accessible and buses have a mechanism for allowing access for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
Tickets for buses to Aix, Cassis, Aubagne can be bought on the buses. For travel in Marseille it is cheaper and easier to buy tickets in the metro stations, or at an outlet (usually Tabacs) showing the RTM sign. Bus drivers will sell tickets but they often don't have change. They may wave you onto the bus, but if inspectors discover you don't have a ticket you may be fined.
There are two tram lines:
Trams run between 5am and 12:30am
And two metro lines:
The metro runs between 5:00 am and 10:30 pm weekdays and until 12:30 am Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. This changes in March 2013. the metro will then run until 12:30am every day.
There are several interchanges along the route where you can transfer between lines or onto buses. The main central bus interchange is Canebière Bourse, behind the Palais de la Bourse which is at 9 Canebière. The buses run between 5:00 am and 9:30 pm. There is then a much reduced night bus system that runs until 12:30 am, not a lot of use if you like to go out at night.
The following links are to the Régie des Transports de Marseille (RTM) website you will probably need to know a little French to be able to navigate your way around the the site.
You can download route maps for the whole public transport system here: http://www.rtm.fr/guide-voyageur/se-deplacer/plans and timetables here: http://www.rtm.fr/guide-voyageur/se-deplacer/horaires. Details of the various deals you can get on tickets for public transport can be found here: http://www.rtm.fr/guide-voyageur/acheter/deplacements-occasionnels