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Marseilles or Nice

Hi: We want to spend time in both. Which is better for a family of 4? Merci!

Posted by
11466 posts

When are you going.. and what sorts of things do you like to do.

We have been to Nice twice and enjoyed it each time. Its so easy to daytrip to other places, Monaco, Cannes, Antibes etc..

I haven't been to Marseilles so cant offer a good comparision.

Time of year would factor in for me . .do you like the sea , beaches etc.. I am a water baby and always enjoy being near it.. but we take long enough trips that we mix in big cities with smaller ones.. so Paris and Nice, or Barcelona and Nice etc.

Posted by
9204 posts

For a blanket answer, I'd say Nice because it's easier to get around to adjacent areas. But without knowing the ages and interests of the family members, nor what month nor how long you are visiting, this answer is a shot in the dark. The two areas are extremely different and appeal to very different interests.

I visit the Nice area every summer to see family and have spent six months staying in the Marseille area.

Posted by
2910 posts

Two great cities but very different. So a lot depends on your family's interest and the ages of the kids. Marseille is the second largest city in France and is gritty. In a good way. Sort of like Rodney Dangerfield, it gets no respect. But there are a host of things to do. Take a boat tour around Chateau d'If to view the calanques from the sea, walk the quay of Vieux Port in the early morning to see the fish mongers and then again a night for a totally different vibe. Visit the imposing Cathedral of Sainte Marie Majeur overlooking the city. Some good museums including The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (MuCEM) which opened in 2013. Rent public bikes from Le Velo and cruise down the Corniche along the Mediterranean. Savor a pizza or other great Italian food at Chez Vincent on rue Glandeves, two blocks from the south end of Vieux Port - make reservations.

Also easy day trips by train to Aix, Avignon or Arles. Adventurous? Rent a car and through the Camargue - black bulls, white horses, pink flamingos, beautiful beaches.

Posted by
776 posts

Depends on the time of year and the interests of your family. Seconding everything Philip said above, I much prefer Marseilles. The Camargue is fascinating but don't forget to bring mosquito repellent.

Posted by
3 posts

Marseilles is a graffiti covered dump. Don't waste a moment there.

Posted by
1248 posts

Marseille (no s) is NOT a grafiti covered dump. It's a very charming city. While it is a bit grittier in some spots, I spent a week in Marseille back 2 years ago and loved every minute. It's gorgeous. And it's a stone's throw away to get to Aix-en-Provence, Arles, and Cassis (don't pronounce the final s). is just a jump away.

While Nice has a few great museums, I enjoyed Marseille's more. The Regards de Provence had a fantastic video/show about the last plague in Marseille. There is a certain charm on Vieux Port of Marseille that I love---especially with a view of Notre Dame de la Garde up above ( cathédrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure is not the one overlooking the city, it's near the MuCEM but still splendid. I really fell in love with it.
Nice is beautiful and wonderful, no doubt about it----some off the environs are too, but Monaco wasn't anything special to me

Apples and oranges. But don't think for a second that Marseille is a dump. That theory is old----and it's one of France's most up and coming cities.

Posted by
23106 posts

I spent 2 weeks in Nice and 5 days in Marseille this month. I think the vast majority of American tourists would be happier to spend multiple days in Nice. There are great day-trips to be made from both cities, but Nice is less likely to set off a "too dirty" reaction. Except that you do have to watch for dog droppings.

I like big cities and those that are culturally diverse, but I just couldn't manage to love Marseille. Th boat trip to the Calanques was very nice, but that can also be done from Cassis (and for a lower cost).

Posted by
223 posts

Alexander writes:

Marseille (no s) is NOT a grafiti covered dump.

Well, graffiti is quite common in larger French cities as a rule and Marseille is not exactly immune from it. As for the "s" on the end of Marseille, that's an older British English usage (same thing for Lyon vs. Lyons). Americans typically don't use the "s" at the end. British historically have tended to, but it's becoming less common than it used to be.


To the original poster: Nice, no question about it, unless your children are older teenagers; then Marseille might be a bit more compelling. A co-worker of mine from Marseille used to describe it as an extension of North Africa, run by the Mafia. I think he was referring more to public works projects than things a tourist is likely to encounter.

Posted by
9204 posts

What your co-worker said is very funny k--
I found that in southern France people liked to show off their association with Marseille--sort of a street cred.
However, in Marseille, people liked to flex their affiliation or origin in Corsica--even more prestigious street cred.