I have never been in Marseille before and to start with the end of the story: Love at first sight.
We had a one full-day call in Marseille (by the way: without s at the end!!!). A group of 6 and our parents all mid 70s... means some preperation.
The tourist information of Marseille was very nice and send me a list of tour operators but also as I do speak french I googled and posted about four requests to various companies.
The reaction time was interesting: few hours by phone upto several monthes... It is not Paris... you are in Southern France...
Just to compare for a 4-hour-shore excursion RCI take 52-54 USD. Just a single transfer to the old port area is 6 USD per person/way.
There was no "sampler" of city and countryside of Provence in one tour which I like for one who is the first time in Marseille.
And again the end of the story first: the "sampler" was so good: I do not mind how many times the itineraries will include Marseille, Toulon, Cannes, Nice, Monaco... Every place is nice to be and there are so many places to discover that I can come again again again and again...
On the day of our tour the weather did not look so nice:
MPCC (Marseille Provence Cruise Center) is not like other nice located ports at the Côte d'Azur as it is based in an industrial port.
The better locations for cruisers are occupied by the ferries NAPOLEAN BONAPARTE and DANIEL CASANOVA.
We love private tours: you can wait until others are in their busses: have the restaurants for you for breakfast and no queue to get from the ship.
So we booked a 4-hours tour starting at 09.00 hrs to be back for lunch at 13.00 hrs.
If you want to do something individual:
no public transport from the cruise terminal: terminal or ship's shuttle.
You need to walk one mile to the port gate. There are public busses. We saw at the highway accesses the bus stop for the downtownbound busses.
The typical souvenir shops are open at the cruise terminal.
Our tour we booked with SSK:
1. a very fast communication
2. was able to provide generally a German speaking guide (English and French is no problem) - but due to a short-notice change we got Romain, one of the two managers as drivers ourself, with a perfect English (and nice French accent...)
3. a good quotation for our 4-hours tour. We paid slightly more than 6 on RCI-tour and can control everything ourselves.
First he asked for 50% deposit. My fax with my credit card number got lost. But he was still there and few days before the tour starts he accepted cash payment as it would not make to much sense to send again the credit card details. But for the next time: I would pay the 50% to secure my booking.
It was a big "mistake" to choose SSK because Romain brought me in "big troubles": If we ever will go on cruises with my parents:
we can be in Yokohama, Alexandria, Piraeus, Oslo, Dover, Miami or any other place on world:
My father will always ask me: why can't we have Romain and his car again???
To get him into the taxi in Barcelona back from the cruise terminal to the airport was trouble enough:
Romain took us around in a full-luxury Volkswagen Mulitvan in leather equipment with onboard-entertainment system and got additional steps for easier access for children (and older people) and umbrellas for those who left theirs on the ship in their staterooms...
Sometimes parents just deliver reason why children should not take their parents anymore on cruises... It saves your nerves...
But back to our tour.
Romain always parked the next place to the sights so you will never have a lost of too much time and can see the attractions immediately without long walks even it might be not very legal... but he was ready to go around the block if the police would have come...
Due to the rain we asked Romain if he was able to re-arrange our tour if the weatherforecast should be better for the afternoon.
He took immediately his notebook and checked that the Mistral (Southern Winds) should be there around noon and it should become better. He offered us against payment of an additional ride to the port to come back at noon. But he also said that it will become very difficult to get us back on the ship due to the traffic congestions in Marseille and it's better to start earlier than after lunch.
Well it was a good decision to start immediately: The weather report was made in Paris and of course... in Southern France even the Mistral was late... came around 14.00 hrs...
So we start first to get us to Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde which we can see already from the ship.
From here we enjoyed a 360°-view all over Marseille. By the way that's Château d'If, which becomes famous due it's most popular prisoner: The Count of Monte Christo.
The next spot:
Palais de Longchamps.
As it was raining dogs and cats we did not walked around the old port or see the cathedrale Nouvelle Major. So we only saw it from the car. Due to the rain I did not open the windows to take pictures.
But very good reasons to return.
We took the interstate to La Ciotat, to get on the scenic Route de Crêtes to Cassis:
Romain explained that this should be the highest cliffs in Europe (362 m). Somehow we were just back from Madeira that they said that they have the highest cliffs in Europe with about 600 m...
Somehow both are right... Madeira is part of Portugal - politically... but is Madeira geographically part of Europe as island in the Atlantics closer to Africa than Europe???
We do not care what is right or wrong: both places are beautiful on their individual ways.
Maybe you have identied SEABORN LEGEND in the bay... They know the nicest places on earth.
In Cassis we made a break for coffee (or something else but coffee... In a French bistro or bar you get also some other beverages to enjoy the day... that's French lifestyle... Savoir vivre... The knowledge of living...).
Romain took us to a pedestrian zone and he explained the police why there was a need to deliver my father right to the entrance of the coffee bar. But with the appearance of this luxury bus the police must thought that we are a diplomatic delegation or something like this...
We used the coastal route back via Calanque to Marseille. I was very sursprised to see a copy of Michelangelo's David.
Even now around lunch time it was difficult to get back to the port so that we cannnot see the Old Port again and had to use the tunnel.
Romain gave us also other suggestions for longer tours but due to our parents we do not do anymore too long tours as they need to rest after few hours.
I am sure that we can do a lot of other things when we are next time back in Marseille and Romain will have further suggestions for us like Aix-en-Provence etc.
It was a great tour. C'était bien!!!
A bientôt donc encore à Marseille!!!