Paris or Marseille – Which City Will You Visit?

Paris or Marseille

Paris or Marseille – Which city should you visit?

So, Paris or Marseille? The choice between these two amazing cities depends on what you’re seeking on your next trip. Are you drawn to the allure of Paris’ iconic sights and cosmopolitan atmosphere? Or does Marseille’s sunny weather, diverse culture, and coastal appeal call to you? Let’s dive deeper to help you make your decision.


Paris, it’s so much more than just a city; it’s a world in itself. Imagine this – you’re sitting in a sidewalk café, sipping your coffee as you watch the world stroll by. You can almost hear the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame whispering stories of love, art, and history.

And trust me, the charm of Paris extends far beyond these famous landmarks. Each neighbourhood, or ‘arrondissement’ as locals call it, is like a mini-city with its own personality. You could be hunting for vintage treasures in the bustling flea markets of Saint-Ouen one moment, and enjoying a peaceful picnic in the quiet parks of Montmartre the next.

Foodies, prepare to fall in love because Paris takes its food very, very seriously. Think fresh baguettes from local ‘boulangeries’, pastries that are too pretty to eat, and restaurants that turn every meal into a feast for the senses.

And let’s not even get started on the art. With a legacy that stretches from Da Vinci to Dali, Paris is a playground for art enthusiasts. Whether it’s classical masterpieces or edgy contemporary works, this city has it all.


Marseille might not boast the romantic allure of Paris or the glamour of the French Riviera, but its unique charm is undeniable. Perched on the Mediterranean coast, Marseille is a melting pot of cultures, an attribute reflected in its vibrant streets and diverse cuisine. With a history dating back to ancient Greece, it’s a paradise for those who love delving into the past. Its old port, Vieux Port, bustles with fish markets and boats, while the iconic Notre Dame de la Garde basilica watches over the city from a hilltop.

But there’s more to Marseille than just history and picturesque views. It’s also a city of dynamic cultural life, with a myriad of museums, art galleries, and music festivals. If you’re in search of a city that combines rich heritage, gastronomic delights, and a laid-back seaside atmosphere, Marseille is the place to be.

While we’re comparing Paris and Marseille in this post, we’ve also looked at how Paris stacks up against other cities like Nice and Cannes. We’ve linked to those articles below if you want to take a look!

Paris or Nice

Paris or Cannes

Pros and Cons of Paris and Marseille

Paris Pros:

  • 🗼 Iconic Landmarks: Paris is home to world-renowned landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Louvre, making it a haven for history and art lovers.
  • 🥐 Culinary Delights: Paris offers a diverse range of gastronomic experiences, from high-end restaurants to charming street-side cafes.
  • 🛍 Fantastic Shopping: For fashion lovers, Paris is a paradise with boutiques from top designers and chic stores around every corner.
  • 🏛 Cultural Richness: The city is renowned for its museums, art galleries, and theatrical performances, offering a cultural feast.

Paris Cons:

  • 💶 Expensive: Paris is one of the most expensive cities in the world, and the cost of accommodation, dining, and attractions can add up quickly.
  • 👫 Crowded: The city can get very crowded, particularly around major landmarks and during peak tourist seasons.
  • 💨 Pollution: Paris can suffer from high levels of air pollution, particularly during peak travel seasons. This might affect those with respiratory conditions or people who are sensitive to air quality.

Marseille Pros:

  • 🌊 Beautiful Coastline: Marseille boasts stunning calanques, beaches, and a vibrant harbour, perfect for lovers of the sea and sun.
  • 🎷 Cultural Diversity: The city offers a unique blend of cultures and has a vibrant arts and music scene.
  • 🍤 Great Food: Marseille is famous for its seafood and is the birthplace of bouillabaisse, a traditional Provençal fish stew.
  • ⛵️ Outdoor Activities: The city is a gateway to outdoor adventures, including hiking,
    sailing, and exploring nearby islands.

Marseille Cons:

  • 👮‍♀️ Safety Concerns: Certain areas of Marseille have higher crime rates, and it’s important to be aware of your surroundings.
  • 🚎 Public Transport: The public transport system is less extensive than in Paris, which can make getting around more difficult.
  • 🏰 Fewer Iconic Landmarks: Compared to Paris, Marseille has fewer traditional tourist attractions

Which City Has Better Food? Paris or Marseille?

When it comes to food, both Paris and Marseille have a lot to offer.

Paris, the one of culinary capitals of the world, is famous for its incredible food. Whether it’s a simple croissant from a boulangerie, a hearty coq au vin from a bistrot, or an extravagant meal from a Michelin-starred restaurant, Paris caters to all tastes. The city is especially great for those who love pastries, cheeses, wines, and fine dining experiences.

Marseille, on the other hand, offers a unique blend of traditional French cuisine and Mediterranean influences. As a coastal city, Marseille is particularly famous for its seafood, especially its bouillabaisse – a traditional Provençal fish stew. Also, being a melting pot of cultures, Marseille offers a wide range of North African and Middle Eastern dishes.

It all comes down to personal preference really, if you prefer indulgent classic French food, Paris may be a better choice for you. But, if you love seafood and North African influences Marseille may be better.

Which City is Better For Couples? Paris or Marseille?

Paris, often dubbed ‘The City of Love’, has a classic appeal for couples. Sharing a sweet crepe by the Seine, stealing a kiss under the Eiffel Tower, or admiring art hand-in-hand at the Louvre. The city’s elegant architecture, beautiful parks, and top-notch restaurants make it an ideal destination for those seeking a romantic escape.

Marseille, while less traditional, can be equally romantic. The city’s relaxed Mediterranean vibe, beautiful sunsets over the harbour, and cosy bistros create a lovely backdrop for romance. For adventurous couples, exploring the stunning calanques or taking a boat ride to the Frioul archipelago can be an amazing experience.

Whether it’s the classic appeal of Paris or the seaside charm of Marseille both cities can offer a great experience for couples. Your choice would depend on what kind of romance you’re seeking – classic and sophisticated, or laid-back and adventurous.

Which City is Better For Families? Paris or Marseille?

Choosing between Paris and Marseille for a family trip largely depends on what your family enjoys doing together.

Paris is an exciting city for families, boasting attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Disneyland Paris, and the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie – the biggest science museum in Europe. The city’s parks and gardens, like the Tuileries or Luxembourg Gardens, are also perfect for a family picnic or a relaxed afternoon.

Marseille, on the other hand, offers a blend of city and beach life, making it a great choice for families who enjoy outdoor activities. You can spend a day at Prado Beach, visit the renowned Marseille Zoo, or take a boat trip to the Frioul Islands. Plus, the city’s history as an ancient port means there are plenty of educational sights like the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations.

In the end, if your family enjoys cultural sights, world-class museums, and theme parks, Paris might be the better fit. However, if you all love the sun, sea, and outdoor adventures, then Marseille might be the ideal choice.

Which City is Better For Partying? Paris or Marseille?

Paris is famous for its vibrant and diverse nightlife. From trendy nightclubs and elegant wine bars in districts like Le Marais and Bastille to iconic shows at the Moulin Rouge, there’s something to suit everyone’s style. The city pulses with energy as soon as the sun goes down, and party-goers will find no shortage of places to dance the night away.

Marseille, while a bit more laid-back, has a lively nightlife scene as well. The city is brimming with seafront bars, underground music venues, and late-night clubs, especially in areas like the bustling Vieux Port. The city’s Mediterranean vibe adds a unique touch to its nightlife, offering a different but equally enjoyable experience.

So, if you’re looking for an upscale, chic party scene, Paris might be your city. But if you want a more relaxed atmosphere with a beachside backdrop, consider Marseille for your next trip.

Which City is Safer? Paris or Marseille?

When it comes to safety, both Paris and Marseille have areas that are generally safe, as well as areas that tourists should be more cautious in.

Paris, as a global city, attracts a high number of tourists, which can lead to a higher prevalence of petty crime like pickpocketing, especially in crowded areas and on public transport. However, the city is generally safe and police are regularly patrolling popular areas.

Marseille, on the other hand, has some districts that have higher crime rates than others. Some neighbourhoods, especially in the northern districts, might be best avoided completely. However, the city’s main tourist areas, such as the Old Port (Vieux Port) and Le Panier district, are generally safe and well-frequented.

Like any major city, in both Paris and Marseille, it’s important to be cautious, keep an eye on your belongings, and avoid less populated areas at night.

How long to stay in Paris

Paris is an expansive city, not just in terms of geographical size but also in its cultural, historical, and artistic breadth. It is often said that every street corner in Paris tells a story, every neighbourhood exudes a unique vibe, and every building holds a piece of history. This multitude of offerings can make the city feel vast and overwhelming to the first-time visitor.

If you’re hoping to fully experience the city’s iconic landmarks – from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre, from the Champs-Élysées to Montmartre – you will need a few days just to scratch the surface. Each of these sights isn’t merely a quick photo opportunity, but rather they each offer a deep dive into the city’s history, architecture, and way of life.

Furthermore, Paris is a city of neighbourhoods, each with its own distinct character. Exploring these diverse areas, such as the bohemian Latin Quarter, the bustling Marais, or the trendy Canal Saint-Martin, can easily fill several days.

And let’s not forget the world-class museums and galleries that dot the city. Art lovers could spend an entire week in Paris and still not see everything the city has to offer in this regard. The Louvre alone, the world’s largest art museum, can take a full day to explore – and that’s if you’re moving quickly.

Paris is also renowned for its culinary scene, and foodies will want to allow plenty of time to explore the city’s bistros, patisseries, markets, and wine bars.

Given all this, a trip of 3 to 5 days allows for a good overview of Paris, but to truly appreciate all that the City of Light has to offer, a stay of a week or longer allows you to explore at a more leisurely pace, delve deeper into the areas that interest you most, and even make a few day trips to the surrounding regions. Remember, Paris is a city that rewards those who take the time to wander its streets and absorb its charm.

How long to stay in Marseille

Deciding on the ideal length for your Marseille visit can be a bit complex, given the rich cultural, historical, and natural attractions the city offers. The city has an abundance of experiences that can keep you engaged for days on end, but how long to stay will largely depend on your personal interests.

If your primary goal is to experience the unique Mediterranean vibe of the city, sample local seafood, and explore the historic district, a 2 to 3 day visit might suffice. This should give you ample time to wander through the narrow streets of Le Panier, the city’s old town, take a leisurely walk around the Vieux Port, and indulge in authentic bouillabaisse at a seaside restaurant.

For travellers drawn to Marseille’s rich history and culture, a stay of 4-5 days would be ideal. This gives you enough time to visit the iconic Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, explore the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (MUCEM), and take a ferry to the historic Château d’If, without feeling rushed.

However, if you’re like me and prefer a deeper immersion into the local culture, you might want to consider staying longer. A week in Marseille would provide ample time to not only explore the city’s attractions, but also to enjoy its beautiful beaches, take day trips to the nearby Calanques National Park or the charming town of Cassis, and truly soak up the laid-back Marseille lifestyle.

Which City is More Budget-Friendly? Paris or Marseille?

If you’re looking to stretch your budget Marseille generally tends to be more affordable than Paris.

Paris, while beautiful and exciting, is one of the world’s most expensive cities. Accommodations, dining, and attractions here can quickly add up, especially if you’re planning to stay in central areas or dine at high-end restaurants. While there are ways to save money, such as visiting free museums or choosing budget-friendly eateries, Paris is typically a pricier choice.

Marseille, on the other hand, is often considered more budget-friendly. The cost of accommodations and food is generally lower compared to Paris. Plus, a lot of Marseille’s charm lies in its natural beauty like the Calanques National Park and Mediterranean beaches, which can be enjoyed for free or at a low cost.

However, regardless of which city you choose, remember that planning ahead, prioritizing your must-sees, and looking for discounts and deals can help you manage your budget effectively.

How much is food and drink in Paris and Marseille?

Paris Marseille
Beer €5 to €8 €5 to €8
Glass of wine €5 to €15 €4 to €10
Coffee €2 to €4 €2 to €4
Meal €25 to €50 €20 to €40

How much is it to stay in Paris or Marseille?


Paris Marseille
Luxury hotel €300 to €800 (or higher) €150 to €500 (or higher)
Midrange hotel €100 to €200 €80 to €150
Budget hotel €50 to €100 €40 to €80
Hostel €20 to €40 €20 to €40

Please note that these are estimated average price ranges and can vary depending on factors such as location, season, and availability.

When is the best time to visit Paris?

Deciding when to visit Paris can make all the difference in your experience, from crowd sizes to weather conditions. Paris enjoys a temperate climate that allows for relatively comfortable conditions throughout the year, though each season offers its own charm.

From March to May, Paris experiences Spring – a season known for its blooming beauty and refreshing temperatures. As trees and flowers throughout the city burst into bloom, the City of Love turns into a picturesque wonderland. This is also a perfect time for open-air picnics in parks like the Champ de Mars or the Tuileries Garden.

June through August mark the summer season in Paris, offering long, sunny days and a lively atmosphere. This is the peak tourist season when you can enjoy alfresco dining, boat cruises on the Seine, and the famous Fête de la Musique, a city-wide celebration of music. Just be prepared for the crowds at major tourist sites!

Autumn graces Paris from September to November with mild weather and beautiful changing foliage in city parks. It’s also a fantastic time to experience the cultural life of Paris, with plenty of exhibitions, concerts, and theatre performances going on. The grape harvest in nearby wine regions, like Champagne and Burgundy, might be of interest to wine lovers!

December through February, winter in Paris is marked by chilly temperatures and festive cheer. Tourist crowds thin out significantly during this time, making it easier to explore the city’s landmarks. Don’t miss out on charming Christmas markets and the city’s grand holiday decorations. If you don’t mind the cold, winter in Paris can be quite magical.

Weather: Paris has a relatively mild climate. Summers can get warm, but not usually excessively hot, while winters are chilly but rarely below freezing. For the most comfortable weather, consider visiting in the shoulder seasons of Spring and early Autumn.

When is the best time to visit Marseille?

Spring: From April to June, the weather in Marseille is comfortably warm, with temperatures averaging between 15-23°C (59-73°F). The city isn’t too crowded, and the beautiful calanques (rocky inlets) are perfect for hiking and picnicking.

Summer: July and August are the hottest months, with temperatures reaching 30°C (86°F). It’s a great time for beach activities, water sports, and enjoying the vibrant nightlife. However, it’s also peak tourist season, so it can get crowded, and prices for accommodation can be higher.

Autumn: September to October is another lovely period to visit. The weather remains warm but becomes more comfortable. It’s an ideal time to explore the city and its surrounding countryside without the summer crowds. Also, the sea is still warm enough for swimming.

Winter: From November to March, Marseille experiences mild winters compared to other parts of France. While it isn’t beach weather, it’s a good time to explore the city’s museums and historical landmarks. There are fewer tourists, and you might find some great deals on accommodation.

However, always remember to check the local weather forecast before your trip, as weather conditions can change unexpectedly.

Average Monthly Temperatures

Month Paris High / Low (°C) Paris Rainy Days Marseille High / Low (°C) Marseille Rainy Days
January 8° / 3° 9 days 12° / 5° 6 days
February 9° / 3° 8 days 13° / 6° 4 days
March 13° / 5° 9 days 16° / 8° 4 days
April 17° / 8° 8 days 18° / 9° 5 days
May 20° / 11° 9 days 23° / 13° 4 days
June 24° / 14° 8 days 26° / 17° 2 days
July 26° / 16° 7 days 29° / 19° 1 day
August 25° / 16° 6 days 29° / 19° 2 days
September 22° / 13° 7 days 26° / 16° 3 days
October 17° / 10° 8 days 21° / 13° 6 days
November 11° / 6° 9 days 16° / 9° 5 days
December 8° / 4° 9 days 13° / 6° 5 days

Please note that these are average temperatures and rainfall data, and actual weather conditions can vary. The number of rainy days is also provided for each month.

Getting around Paris:

Paris boasts an extensive public transportation network that includes the Métro (subway), buses, trams, and a bike-sharing service called Vélib’. The Métro is particularly convenient as it connects all major tourist attractions and extends well into the suburbs. It’s fast, efficient, and a great way to avoid the city’s notorious traffic congestion.

The buses and trams are also reliable options to get around Paris, offering the added benefit of sightseeing as you travel. The tickets you purchase are valid across buses, trams, and the Métro for a certain period of time, typically an hour and a half. This means you could take a bus and a metro ride on a single ticket as long as your journey falls within the valid period.

For those looking to add a bit of exercise to their exploration, the Vélib’ bike-sharing scheme is a fun option. Paris is becoming increasingly bike-friendly, with many dedicated cycle lanes across the city.

Walking is also a fantastic way to explore Paris. Many of the city’s iconic landmarks are conveniently close together, and strolling along the Seine River or through charming neighbourhoods like Montmartre and Le Marais is a pleasure in itself.

Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber are also widely available throughout Paris. However, in high-traffic areas and pedestrian-only zones, they might not be the most efficient choice. Do keep in mind that Parisian traffic can be heavy, particularly during rush hour.”

Getting around Marseille:

Marseille has a good public transportation system, including buses, trams, and a metro system. Taxis are also available but can be expensive. Walking is a great way to explore the city centre, but if you want to cover more ground, consider renting a bike or taking a boat tour. The Marseille city pass is worth getting if you’re planning on using public transport.

Top things to do in Paris

  1. Eiffel Tower: No trip to Paris is complete without a visit to this iconic landmark. For an unforgettable experience, take the elevator up to the viewing deck for panoramic views of the city, or enjoy a picnic in the park below.
  2. Louvre Museum: Home to the Mona Lisa and countless other art treasures, the Louvre is one of the world’s most famous museums. Be sure to explore its grand architecture, including the striking glass pyramid at the entrance.
  3. Montmartre: This historic and artistic neighbourhood is a must-visit. Climb the steps to the stunning Sacré-Cœur Basilica for a fantastic view of Paris, and wander the cobblestone streets to discover charming cafés, boutiques, and the bustling Place du Tertre, where artists sell their work.
  4. Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe: Stroll down the world’s most famous avenue, lined with shops, theatres, and cafés. At the end, you’ll find the Arc de Triomphe, another iconic Parisian monument, offering beautiful city views from its top.
  5. Notre Dame Cathedral: Although currently under reconstruction after the fire in 2019, Notre Dame’s grandeur can still be admired from the outside. It’s also a great starting point for a leisurely walk along the banks of the Seine River, which are lined with bookstalls, artists, and charming views.

Top things to do in Marseille

  1. Old Port (Vieux Port): This bustling harbour is the heart of Marseille. It’s lined with cafes and restaurants, and it’s the perfect place to enjoy a bouillabaisse, the traditional Provençal fish stew. Don’t miss the fish market that takes place every morning at the port.
  2. Le Panier: Just north of the Old Port is Marseille’s old town, Le Panier. Wander through its narrow, winding streets to discover charming squares, art galleries, boutiques, and cafes.
  3. Notre-Dame de la Garde: This iconic basilica sits on the city’s highest point and offers panoramic views of Marseille. Its interior is equally stunning with beautiful mosaics.
  4. The Calanques: These rocky inlets with crystal clear waters are perfect for hiking, swimming, and boating. They can be found along the coastline between Marseille and Cassis.
  5. MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations): This museum is notable not only for its comprehensive exhibits but also for its stunning architecture and sea views.

How to spend three days in Paris

Day 1: The Heart of Paris

Begin your Paris adventure in the heart of the city. Start your morning with a visit to the iconic Eiffel Tower. Take the elevator up for an amazing view of the city, or simply admire it from the ground. From there, make your way to the Musée d’Orsay, which boasts an extensive collection of Impressionist masterpieces. After lunch, head to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Even though it’s currently under reconstruction, its facade is still worth seeing. Walk along the banks of the Seine River to the famous Louvre Museum, and spend the rest of your afternoon exploring its vast collections. Finish your day with a delicious dinner in the Latin Quarter, a vibrant area known for its bustling bistros and cafés.

Day 2: Arts and Bohemian Flair

Start your second day in Montmartre, the historic arts district known for its bohemian past. Visit the Sacré-Cœur Basilica and enjoy a panoramic view of Paris from its steps. Explore the area’s charming streets, and check out the Place du Tertre, where local artists sell their work. For lunch, grab a crepe from one of the street vendors. In the afternoon, head to the Centre Pompidou, a modern art museum with a unique architectural design. End your day in the Marais district, where you can enjoy dinner and explore the area’s diverse boutiques and galleries.

Day 3: Chic and Glamour

Begin your final day on the famous Champs-Élysées. Start at the Place de la Concorde and make your way up the avenue, window shopping and enjoy a coffee at a streetside café. At the end, you’ll find the impressive Arc de Triomphe. Afterwards, take a metro to the stylish Saint-Germain-des-Prés district, where you can enjoy a relaxed lunch and explore its chic boutiques. Spend your afternoon at the Musée Rodin to admire the sculptor’s masterpieces, including The Thinker. As the sun begins to set, take a scenic cruise on the Seine River, a perfect and romantic end to your three days in Paris. Enjoy your final dinner at one of the cosy bistros along the river.

How to spend three days in Marseille

Day 1: Exploring the Heart of Marseille

Kick off your visit in Marseille by exploring the vibrant Vieux Port (Old Port). Watch fishermen selling their catch, enjoy a cup of coffee at one of the numerous waterside cafés, or simply admire the hundreds of moored yachts. Next, stroll to Le Panier, Marseille’s old town, with its charming cobbled streets, colourful houses, artisan shops, and inviting cafés. After lunch in one of the local bistros, take a ride on the tourist train or climb the hill to visit Notre-Dame de la Garde, the city’s iconic basilica, offering panoramic views of Marseille. End your day with a delicious seafood dinner back at the Vieux Port.

Day 2: Discovering Culture and History

Start your second day at the MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations), known for its exhibits as well as its stunning architecture. Then make your way to the Palais Longchamp, home to Marseille’s fine art museum and natural history museum, surrounded by a grand park. After lunch, consider visiting Château d’If, a former fortress and prison on a small island off Marseille’s coast, famously featured in Dumas’ ‘The Count of Monte Cristo.’ Wrap up the day with dinner at one of Marseille’s excellent restaurants, perhaps trying the city’s signature dish, bouillabaisse.

Day 3: Nature and Leisure

Devote your last day in Marseille to the Calanques National Park. Depending on your preference, you can hike, kayak, or take a boat tour to explore these stunning limestone cliffs and turquoise waters. Make sure to pack a picnic to enjoy by the sea. After returning to the city, enjoy a leisure stroll along La Corniche, a scenic seaside boulevard, or visit Prado Beach for a more relaxing time. End your trip with a farewell dinner, relishing the flavours of Provençal cuisine.

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