Best Neighborhoods in Marseille: the Top Places to Live in the City
Searching for the best neighborhoods in Marseille? In this district-packed guide, we’ve brought you lots of in-depth details on the top areas in the city, along with some useful information on each one.
The second-biggest city in France, Marseille is an excellent place to live. Full of people from around the globe, it’s one of the most multicultural metropolises in France, and the port city has been a popular relocation hub for many years.
Even back in 600BC, this place was an important Greek harbor… and it’s been attracting foreign faces ever since.
Sitting in the south of the nation, it’s a cultural colossus, offering arts, events, museums, music, the sights and sounds of the port, some excellent nearby beaches, and a whole load of grace and grandeur. In some ways, it feels very different to other parts of France, with a much more Mediterranean vibe than the nation’s other cities.
It’s a great place to visit, a great place to live, and a great part of France. And because it’s in the south of the nation, it offers better weather than most other French relocation options. Perfect if you’re on a desperate hunt for sunny climes!
But all of Marseille’s neighborhoods are vastly different from one another. So if you’re moving to the city, you want to research the best areas before you make the leap.
And you also don’t want to live in a subpar place… so it’s important to separate the best Marseille neighborhoods from the worst ones. To save you the hassle of filtering through the seemingly-endless options, we’ve stacked this guide with all the best neighborhoods in Marseille.
We’ve brought you lots of juicy details on the following districts and areas:
- Hotel de Ville
- Le Pharo
- Le Panier
- … and a small section on some of the other areas you might want to consider
Looking for the best neighborhoods in Marseille? Bring some wine and cheese, you intrepid explorer, cos your good buddies at Homelike have covered them all!
1. Hotel de Ville
Best for: Living right on the port, seeing some of the most prestigious parts of the city, being close to the action, and staying for just a short while
Sitting right on the northern part of the port, Hotel de Ville is as central as you can get, and it’s one of the most upmarket areas in the city.
The most well-known part of the Old Port (or ‘Le Vieux Port’, if you want to get all French), this is one of the best neighborhoods in Marseille if you’re only staying short-term.
Here, you’ll feel like a long-term tourist… and you’ll be close to some of the city’s most well-known attractions, including The Old Port itself (of course!), the striking and innovative Mucem Museum, some great churches, the Museum of the Roman Docks, and a saliva-inducing smorgasbord of endless great seafood.
Best of all, you’re also close to the alluring and iconic district of Le Panier (but more on that place later).
But because this area is home to hordes of tourists, it can often be difficult to find an apartment here in the traditional way. For that reason, it’s often easier to get a serviced short-term rental in this part of the city (especially if you’re not hanging around for too much time).
Best for: Ransacking local markets, exploring cobbled streets, making many friends, and embracing the multicultural diversity of the city
A labyrinthine mish-mash of cobbled lanes and ancient market stalls, Noailles is one of the most charming and exciting parts of the city. Just to the east of the port area, it’s full of things to do, and you’ll always find somewhere to dance, drink and chow down.
It’s also one of the best parts of Marseille for embracing all the people and places that have influenced (and continue to influence!) the city. It’s one of the most multicultural parts of Marseille, and it’s endlessly friendly and alluring.
You can find a whole variety of different stuff at the crowded daily market, including fabrics, ceramics and foods from around the globe. Expect eats and treats from the Middle East, North Africa (particularly Tunisia), and plenty other places.
If you want a big crowd of multicultural friends, this is one of the best neighborhoods in Marseille. Busy, bustling, and always interesting, it’s a great place to call home—and it’s impossible to get bored here.
Okay, it’s not as upmarket or elegant as some other parts of the city, but that’s absolutely part of its charm.
Best for: Endless food, grabbing great views, splashing your cash, and living on the lesser-known side of the port
Over the port from Hotel de Ville, and bordering the southern part of its waters, you have Saint-Victor.
One more foodie favorite, this neighborhood hosts another snack-filled daily market. But it also has lots of restaurants, delis, bistros and cafes, and you’ll always find lots of meals and morsels to munch on. Lebanese lunch spot Mouné is one of the most popular eateries in the city, and it’s surrounded by other great spots.
Saint-Victor is also one of the most photogenic areas of the city—from the shores of the nearby waters, you get fantastic views of the Old Port. But though this area also surrounds the port, it’s less touristy than Hotel de Ville, and feels vaguely more local and laconic.
Most famously, the neighborhood is home to Abbaye Saint-Victor… which is named after the patron saint of the city (and gives the neighborhood its name!). It’s one of the most important places in Marseille.
This neighborhood is a pretty good option if you’re moving with kids. Central Marseille doesn’t have many family-friendly green spaces… but Saint-Victor is home to Jardin de la Colline Puget, which is the best central park in the city. And as a nice bonus, the area is close to some good international schools (Epim Marseille is a good place to start your search).
Sadly, it’s a pretty expensive district, so it’s not an option for everyone. But if you can afford to live here, it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Marseille, and offers a nice balance of central but authentic, and busy but bearable.
Best for: The best of all worlds, awesome architecture, big fat slices of culture, and endless eating and drinking
Sandwiched between Noailles and Saint-Victor, it’s the pretty little district of Opera.
Here, you get a welcome slice of everything, including bars, restaurants, nightclubs, museums, boat tours, escape rooms, and some southern stretches of the port (with some particularly excellent waterside views).
Unsurprisingly, the district is also home to the city’s opera house, along with some other cultural venues. Highlights include the Musée Cantini, and the cute kid-friendly Les Petits Trains de Marseille (which offers mini train trips around the most touristy parts of Marseille).
Architecturally, it’s one of the nicest parts of the city. Full of pastel-hued homes and narrow streets, this is all the romantic French clichés rolled into one pretty place. If you like attractive areas with endless things to do, Opera is one of the best neighborhoods in Marseille.
Again, like most places we’ve covered so far, Opera is pretty pricey… but when you’re getting this much for your money, that’s what you usually expect.
5. Le Pharo
Best for: Exploring interesting venues, living just west of the port, and lazing around on the beach in your free time
West of Saint-Victor, and also bordering the port, you have the strangely-shaped district of Le Pharo (or just ‘Pharo,’ as some people prefer to call it).
Named after the grand and gargantuan Palais de Pharo, the area is also home to Plage des Catalans beach (arguably the best in the city center), the towering fortress of Fort Saint-Nicolas, and an underwater art museum(!).
With lots of pretty cliffside areas, some excellent views of the port, and the impressive Parc Émile Duclaux, there are lots of lovely places to relax here. But it’s relatively short on restaurants and nightlife spots… and it’s not a great place to raise kids.
A fairly sought-after district, it’s a busy place… and because it’s not particularly residential, there aren’t many places to rent here. For that reason, it’s often easier to find a serviced apartment in this part of Marseille.
Overall, if you’re heading to the city for only a short while, Le Pharo is one of the best neighborhoods in Marseille. But if you’re hanging around for longer, or if you have a family, you might want to find somewhere a little more ‘normal.’
Best for: Lots of shopping, exploring North African cuisine, and finding a reasonably affordable place to live
North of Opera and east of Hotel de Ville, Belsunce is one of the biggest city-center districts in Marseille. Though it’s less famous than some of the other neighborhoods we’ve brought you so far, it still offers lots of great things to do.
Belsunce is also a good choice if you want to live in a multicultural area. Though it’s not quite as diverse and no-frills as Noailles, you still get kebab stalls, Turkish coffee, North African food markets, knockabout teahouses (with some of the best mint tea you’ve ever had), and lots of cut-price variety from around the planet.
And if you like shopping, this is a great place to be—you’re close to the ever-popular Bourse Center, one of the biggest and best malls in the city.
Belsunce is also a little more affordable than some of the more well-known city-center districts… so it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Marseille for living centrally without having to throw too much money around.
Best for: Living in a residential but central area, finding great schools, and exploring the excellent area of Le Cours Julien
Southeast of the port area, Prefecture is another small district… and it’s a little more residential and laid-back than most other city-center neighborhoods we’ve featured in this guide.
Because it’s relatively residential (and peripheral), it’s a good option if you want to live in a convenient area without being surrounded by too much action and energy.
But in Prefecture, you still get some great cafes and restaurants, and some cool places to spend time. One of the city’s best eateries (Le Chill) is right in the heart of the district—so make sure you gobble down on some of their tasty treats.
Also in the area is Le Cours Julien, one of the most distinctive parts of the city.
An urban epicenter of graffiti-covered streets, it’s one of the most interesting (and well-known) bohemian areas in France. Here, you find artists’ studios, underground venues, endless live music, unusual events, interesting galleries, and a weekly farmers’ market. If you like hip hubs, you’ll love it.
Because it’s close to many excellent international schools, Prefecture is also one of the best neighborhoods in Marseille for anyone moving with kids. A good start for your school hunt is Montessori 21, one of the most reputable in the entire city.
8. Le Panier
Best for: Falling in love with an endearing neighborhood, being close to Hotel de Ville, and exploring great museums and heritage sites
North of Hotel de Ville is La Panier (or ‘Le Panier Marseillais,’ if you like longer names). In truth, the two districts largely merge into one another, and it’s not quite clear where one ends and the other begins.
No matter where exactly it is, Le Panier is among the most exciting parts of the city. One of the oldest parts of Marseille, it’s full of important sites, and loads of interesting museums.
It’s most famous for being the home of Cathédrale La Major, one of the national monuments of France. But Le Panier also hosts the art-packed Musée Regards de Provence, and the culture-crammed La Vieille Charité.
All of these venues and more are tucked into the small meandering lanes of the hilly district… and on any wander through the area, you’ll always find some secret place to eat, drink or explore. Famous for its steep lanes, colorful homes, and lots of hidden squares, this is as Mediterranean as Marseille gets.
But it’s not just one of the oldest and prettiest neighborhoods in Marseille—Le Panier is also one of the best neighborhoods in Marseille… and you’ll probably fall in love with it, just like everybody else does.
9. Other Options
As you’ve probably noticed, the districts we’ve given you so far are all relatively central (and relatively similar to one another).
So if you’re looking for something a little more leftfield, here are some of the other top choices for the best neighborhoods in Marseille:
- La Corniche: west of the famous part of the port, the seaside boulevard of La Corniche measures in at a hefty 5km (that’s 3 miles). Running along its length, you get colorful homes, clifftop wanders, tasty seafood, easy access to excellent beaches, and (weirdly) the longest bench in the world. If you like the seaside, you’ll love living here.
- Vallon des Auffes: part of La Corniche, tiny Vallon des Auffes is like someone took the port of Marseille, shrunk it down, and made it even prettier. Possibly the most loveable part of the city, it’s a little port-based inlet, with endless boats and homes crammed into its tiny dimensions. If you want to eat nothing but bouillabaisse, it’s the only place to be.
- La Joliette: north of the port area, dockside La Joliette is one of the best neighborhoods in Marseille if you want nice views without high prices. Because it’s just outside of the central sprawl of the city, it’s a relatively affordable option (especially as you go further north). But you still get pretty boulevards, trendy hangouts, and great public transport.
- Cinq-Avenues: residing on the outskirts, this is one of the most elegant, upmarket and expensive parts of the city… with lots of mansions, townhouses, pretty parks, classy cosmopolites, and important cultural venues. Homes can be pretty difficult to come by in this prestigious area, so getting a long-term serviced apartment can be a good idea.
- Saint-Charles: sandwiched between Cinq-Avenues and the central part of the city, Saint-Charles is a compromise in all the best ways. It’s also home to the city’s central train station, perfect if you travel a lot for work (or fun!). For affordable but central, it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Marseille, and it’s home to a mixed bag of people.
- Notre-Dame-Du-Mont: the best spot in the city for late-night parties and finding bohemian hangouts, Notre-Dame-Du-Mont offers some of the best nightlife in France. Brimming with bars, restaurants, clubs, and lots of self-styled hipsters, it’s perfect for young professionals and young couples… and you’ll always find something to do.