According to liuxers.com, the main port of France and the Mediterranean is firmly connected by air, road and rail links with the largest cities in Europe. There are both direct and connecting flights from Moscow to Marseille, and fans of land travel from May to the end of October will be rescued by the Moscow – Nice train. From the latter to Marseille is only 2.5 hours away.
The urban transport system is quite developed and generally copes well with the needs of the second largest French metropolis. Passenger load is shared between two metro lines, two tram lines, regular “sea tram” services and nearly a hundred bus routes, all operated by the RTM campaign.
The Marseille subway cannot boast of its size – there are only 28 stations, 36 trains, and the total length of the tracks is just over 20 km. Line 1 on the maps is indicated in blue, it looks like the Latin letter U littered to the east. Line 2 is drawn in red on the diagrams, it goes along the coast and crosses line 1 at two points, at Saint-Charles and Castellane. The most congested station is Saint-Charles, from where you can transfer not only from branch to metro line, but also to the TER railway line, which is run by SNCF.
It is on them in Marseille that the main transport load falls. It is quite difficult for a foreigner to navigate the confusing local network, although part of the problem can be solved using the RTM website – there you can plan a route in advance and get information on it. Marseille buses are best avoided during rush hours: they are often packed to overflowing, although they continue to run on schedule (during school holidays it changes). Do not forget about the ubiquitous pickpockets, buses are their favorite place to “hunt”.
These small boats are very handy if you need to get from the Old Port to the famous Bay of L’Estac (the safest and most peaceful way to the 16th quarter). The traffic intervals are short, and a one-way ticket will cost only 6 EUR.
Bicycles for rent
Like in many French cities, you can rent a bike in Marseille. The first half hour of the walk is free, then every hour will cost only 1 EUR. A weekly pass can be purchased online in advance (a valid credit card is required) or directly at the self-service terminal at the rental point.
Types and cost of tickets
A single ticket will cost 1.50 EUR. It is the same, but bought on the bus from the driver – at 1.80 EUR. For 13 EUR you can buy a book for 10 trips. Tickets are valid for all types of land urban transport and give the right to an unlimited number of transfers within 1.5 hours.
Pass XL travel cards are convenient for tourists – they are valid for 24 or 72 hours and cost 24 and 31 EUR, respectively.
If you stay in the city for a week or more, it makes sense to buy a special subscription – for only 13 EUR you can move around the city unlimitedly for 7 days.
Rent a Car
In Marseille, renting a car is easy and simple: the entire range of international and local car rental companies is available both at the airport and at the main station of the city. However, it’s better to take care of booking a car in advance: firstly, it will cost less (you can “catch” offers from 40 EUR per day for an economy class car): secondly, this will give a guarantee that upon arrival you will receive a car of the chosen categories.
The principles and rules for renting a car in Marseille do not differ from the general French ones – which cannot be said about the peculiarities of local traffic. Even Parisians who are accustomed to everything are afraid to drive in Marseille – in addition to the complex road system and frequent dead traffic jams, the life of a visitor is complicated by the dashing driving style of local drivers.
In general, you should take care of car rental if you plan frequent trips out of town or settled far from the center – in other cases, public transport is easier, cheaper and calmer.
Parking in Marseille is another headache for the driver. Although paid parking lots are expensive, and free ones are poorly located and always busy, this problem can be circumvented with the help of a weekly Pass XL subscription – in addition to using public transport, it gives you the right to use intercepting parking lots for free (their list and location map can be found on a special page of the RTM website).
Communication and Wi-Fi
There are practically no communication problems in Marseille. Each of the three main cellular operators (Buygues, Orange, SFR) has a dense 4G coverage network, so you will not be left without fast Internet on your trip. If the roaming tariffs of domestic operators do not suit the price, you should consider purchasing a local SIM card: Orange, for example, offers favorable Internet tariffs, and the local Lebara cellular discounter is famous for its low price for international calls.
If on a trip you rely more on Wi-Fi and Internet telephony than on mobile communications, then this will not be a problem: the vast majority of French hotels offer free and unlimited Wi-Fi.
Unfortunately, situations often arise when the hotel signal is unstable, weak, or even does not reach distant rooms at all. If you are unlucky, try to settle down with a tablet or laptop closer to the reception.
In the city itself, free Wi-Fi can be caught in restaurants and fast food establishments such as McDonald’s. In addition, a network of free hotspots has been deployed in gardens, parks and municipal museums. Although there are only 30 as of mid-2016, they are conveniently located in the main tourist areas.
Marseille City Pass
Especially for the guests of the city, the Marseille tourist office has developed a City Pass card. This is a convenient and quite economical solution for those who do not want to understand the tricks of local transport tariffs and spend time waiting in line at museums.
The card entitles you to free travel on all types of public transport, including sea trams. In addition, the price of the City Pass includes a boat trip with a visit to the famous Chateau d’If, a sightseeing tour of the city center on a tourist train (available from April to October), as well as free admission to the city’s main museums. A nice bonus card is the opportunity to get discounts in many souvenir shops.
City Pass is available in three versions: for 1 day (17 EUR), 2 (20 EUR) and 3 (41 EUR). Cards for children from 7 to 15 years old will cost a third cheaper.
You can buy a City Pass not only at the local tourism office, but also using mobile applications for Android or iOS.