9:30 am: Start at La Bonne Mère
It doesn’t matter how you get there, just go. We climbed the hill in the little train from the Old Port, it wiggled its way round the winding narrow streets of Marseille to connect with the Basilica Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, known as La Bon Mère. Perched high on a rock, it looks as if it’s levitating above the city. This ancient former fort still surprises with its drawbridge and breath-taking views of the sea and the city. Inside, model boats hang from the ceiling, children will love to hear the story of what these offerings are all about...
11 am: Head to Mucem
Mucem, the star of Marseille's museums, located on the waterfront near the Old Port, entices young and old with its walkways jutting out over the water and its fishnet style concrete. The long ramps between shadow and light that encircle the building, are an innovative way to approach this cultural centre, dedicated to the civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean. Don’t miss the fun at the permanent exhibitions for children, as well as stories at the grand exhibition "Gold" (until September 10, 2018).
2:30 pm: Learn about contemporary art at the Friche
"What do you find inspiring about this artist’s installation?" The guide at the Friche de la Belle de Mai challenges children at the innovative expositions, a cultural site located in a former tobacco factory near the train station Saint-Charles. Every Saturday at 14:30, join a family visit, followed by a workshop, it’s a great chance to awaken the minds of 6-12 year olds to contemporary art. A playground for children, skatepark, café, restaurant, you can spend ages in this space with its varied and eclectic programme of concerts, exhibitions and events with animations designed for children. In summer, rooftop parties welcome the whole family.
10 am: Depart for the Château d'If
From the Old Port, embark on a sea shuttle to reach, in about twenty minutes, the fortified town. It was built in the sixteenth century on a rocky island to protect Marseille from attacks by pirates and enemies arriving by sea. To the sound of laughing gulls and with the history of the Count of Monte Cristo in their minds, children will find exploring the castle, which was a prison before becoming a popular attraction, a fascinating treat.
2 pm: Take a swim in the city
From the Chateau d’If, the shuttle boat connects to the Frioul islands, home to wild life and fauna, perfect locations to play at Robinson Crusoe. But in the city centre of Marseille, large sandy beaches are also very inviting for those who fancy a swim. From the Old Port, head for the beaches of Catalans, Prophètes (with its shallow waters is ideal for children) and further afield, Pointe Rouge, all are supervised and accessible by bus.
5 pm: Get your skates on for Prado
All fans of urban gliding know of it: one of the most famous skate bowls in the world has been established in Marseille since 1991. Skateboarding, rollerblading, scooters - there are 700 m² of tracks, facing the sea, along the beaches of Gaston Deferre, near Pointe Rouge. Its unique qualities? Exciting bends, twists and turns for roller sports in one place. Teens love it.
10 am: Trek through the Calanques
Discover the variations of rosemary and thyme, observe sea birds, climb the rock... You’re off for a day trip, walking in the countryside on the marked trails of the national park of Calanques. At the gate of the city, it boasts a landscape of bold beauty with its steep white cliffs plunging into the sea, its fragrant garrigue pitted with sloping pines and coves of turquoise waters. Swimming in this paradise is your reward.
Stroll through the Calanques (French only)
Where to sleep?
Mama Shelter is great not just for its central location (near Cours Julien), but it’s also excellent value, is fabulously designer and lots of fun. Children will love the row of coloured buoys above the bar and the chalk calligraphy on the ceiling.