Marseille South Beaches Guide, France

Manu Beach, a short private section of Borely, Marseilles, France

Manu Beach, a short private section of Borely (one of several), cursed with a seaweed overdose and only moderate water quality. But if you’re posh what can you do? Wait on yourself?

Beaches south of Marseille easy to reach by bus

Plage Borely

Borely restaurants and big wheel, Marseille, France

Borely beach entertainment hub beside the shore, a big wheel, kid’s playground and a large selection of eateries.

Plage Bonneveine

Plage Bonneveine, Marseilles, France

Plage Bonneveine, good quality water, fine sand, and more private patches. Somehow it didn’t work for us.

Plage Vieille Chapelle

Plage Vieille Chapelle, Marseilles, France

Plage Vieille Chapelle, not a lot of space there, especially with a channel reserved for board sailors. In the distance is perhaps of our favourite beach, Plage de la Point Rouge (below).

Plage de la Point Rouge

Plage de la Point Rouge, Marseille, France

Plage de la Point Rouge, the last sizeable beach on this coast but still only half an hour or less from Marseilles port.

Plage de la Point Rouge seems to have a great asset balance, good quality waters, soft light sand, marine activities nearby, all the major facilities you might require including on-beach restaurants (rare) and loads of shops, bars and cafés along the adjacent road. Parking may be the only problem so get there early, take the bus or be prepared to walk from Plage Vieille Chapelle where there is plenty of parking for obvious reasons (there’s no bloody beach! )

Anse du Bain des Dames

Anse du Bain des Dames beach, Marseilles, France

Anse du Bain des Dames, just past the Point Rouge port. Looks more like a neighbourhood hotspot than a serious tourist beach. Anse means ‘cove’ in French.

Anse des Goudes

Anse des Goudes beach, Marseille, France

And finally Anse des Goudes, tiny, with no facilities at all, but a quiet, calm, almost Caribbean feel.

Being adjacent to incredible Ile Maire and wonderful Calanques hikes doesn’t harm Anse des Goudes’ atmosphere at all. Just remember to turn right in Goudes village to get to Ile Maire and des Goudes beach. If not you’ll soon arrive at the first serious Calanques, Callelongue, a place for serious walks, not splashy bathing.

Callelongue Calanque

The tiny village of Callelongue, the first serious Calanque on this coast, Marseille, France

The tiny village of Callelongue, the first proper Calanque on the coast.

Calanques are rocky fjord-like inlets stretching along to Cassis from Callelongue. It’s a popular hike of about 10 hours with up-and-downs from sea level to 1, 000 metres. There are also calanques on the Blue Coast northwest of Marseille.

Driving time from Marseille port to Callelongue or Ile Maire is not more than half an hour without stops.

There are more beaches on the other, northwest side of Marseille, an area hyped as The Blue Coast. These beaches and calanques are neither as dramatic nor as easy to reach as those on the south coast, but travelers in search of a bit of isolation, fine scenery and ready for a walk could do worse than head west.

Getting there is easiest by train on the Blue Coast Line (Côte Bleue) from Marseille Saint Charles station to Port du Bouc (on the Mediterranean) or onto Miramas (up in the hills). L’Estaque station is second on the line outside Marseilles and marks the start of serious panoramic views. For best views sit on the left side of the train on the way from Marseille.

There are a dozen trains a day in either direction with differing deals available such as day passes or pass + calanque boat cruise. Don’t take the train from Marseille to Miramas via Vitrolles as it runs inland and does not offer the same brilliant coastal views.

In mid-summer there can be restrictions on both car use and hiking in some areas as it’s an extremely dry and flammable region, so either check the situation carefully beforehand (en Francais, bien sur) or let the train take the strain.
There are a good number of campsites in fantastic locations along the coast.

Plage Verdon

Verdon beach, near La Couronne, family-friendly stretch of sand on the Blue Coast, Marseille, France

Verdon beach, near La Couronne and the most family-friendly stretch of sand on the Blue Coast. Photo by Airair.

The best beaches on the Blue Coast are located between Carry-le-Rouet and Carro. They tend not to have much in the way of facilities and are usually a bit of a walk from the rail station.
One beach with good summer facilities and consequently favoured by families is Plage du Verdon between La Couronne and Carro. Verdon is a sheltered spot with soft sand, lifeguards, toilets, showers, a handful of eating places and good access from a large car park.