Although it seems to be a well-known tourist destination along the French Riviera, Marseille is still thought of by many people as nothing more than a crowded, over-hyped merchant city influenced by the colorful daytime antics of fishermen and salesmen. It’s not entirely wrong: Marseille obviously retains an important role as a strategic Mediterranean port. Yet that very spirit, combined with the cultural mix that is so typical of the area, also helps to color the city’s rich and meaningful nightlife. Read on to discover some of the best things to do in Marseille, France at night.
1. Check out the Festival de Marseille
Marseille’s signature festival is a nearly month-long event celebrating the richness of cultural arts to be found all over the city. The project was born out of a desire to create a more tolerant and open artistic community that would serve as a safe space for the exchange of ideas. Each year spectators look forward to a plethora of film screenings, concerts, and special performances.
Festival de Marseille
Address: 17 rue de la République, 13002 Marseille, France
Website: Festival de Marseille
2. Explore the local art scene
There’s something decidedly nostalgic about the city of Marseille. Blame it on the crowded bazaars, the over-worked harbor, the tasty cuisine, or the deep blue waters of the nearby sea.
No one can say with any certainty just what it is that makes Marseille such an attractive setting, but it has certainly served as a source of inspiration for countless artistic musings. Take part in its enchanting art world by visiting local galleries, like the Galerie of Marseille, La Maison de l'Artisanat et des Metiers d'Art and the Bureau des Compétences et Désirs.
Galerie of Marseille
Address: 8 rue du Chevalier Roze, 13002 Marseille, France
Website: Galerie of Marseille
3. Relax into the literary wonders of Marseille
France has been known to churn out some of the most talented literary pioneers in history, a tradition that seems to be very much alive and well within the southern port city of Marseille. Marseille is home to the Centre International de Poésie, a lively cultural space which hosts special poetry readings and meet ups for those looking to be transported through time and space by the spoken word. The center also offers a free library that boasts an extensive collection of anglophone works.
Centre International de Poésie
Address: 2 rue de la Charité, Marseille, France
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4. Enjoy splendid theatrical performances
Yet another thing that complements Marseille’s nightlife is its abundance of live performance venues. These include such wonders as the Théâtre de l'Odéon and La Criée, the national theatre of Marseille. Both showcase a variety of local talent: from tragedies and dramas to orchestral concerts, ballets, and operas. A popular spot for cabaret dancing, Le Théâtre de Tatie also comes highly recommended.
Address: 30 quai de Rive Neuve, 13007 Marseille, France
Website: La Criée (in French)
5. Find comedic relief
Escape the everyday worries and stressors of travel with a visit to Marseille’s most popular comedy joint, La Quai du Rire. Part cafe, part comedy club, this chilled out venue spotlights local, up-and-coming standup comedians and hosts unforgettable comedic theatre performances.
La Quai du Rire
Address: 16 quai de Rive Neuve, 13007 Marseille, France
Website: La Quai du Rire (in French)
6. Follow the sound of music
In addition to a host of other advantages, Marseille also boasts a particularly explosive music scene that is best witnessed over at the popular warehouse-turned-concert-hall, Dock des Suds. With an emphasis on both local and international rhythms, musical genres here are no less diverse than the artists and the locals themselves. Meanwhile Marseille’s opera house and Le Cri du Port jazz bar are also popular venues for all those who share a penchant for the music arts.
Dock des Suds
Address: 12 rue Urbain V, 13002 Marseille, France
Website: Dock des Suds in French
Think you’ve got what it takes to go up against the pros? Then head over to Chez Ida, a favorite local karaoke bar where jolly tourists and locals go to belt out some of the most gleefully obnoxious ballads of the past several decades. Be sure to expect a constant stream of patrons, all ready to sing the night away in drunken revelry.
Idas has set itself apart from other establishments because it serves as both a traditional-style Marseillaise restaurant and karaoke venue with a small dance floor for the rhythmically-inclined. It is, indeed, so popular that weekend table reservations are all but necessary.
Address: 7 Rue Ferdinand Rey, 13006 Marseille, France
Website: Chez Ida (in French)
8. Wine and dine
Whenever you’re ready to relax and unwind there are few things better than a glass of wine paired with an irresistible platter of fresh, local cheeses. Enjoy all this and more at La Part des Anges wine bar. Also, on the swankier side of things there’s Intercontinental’s highly-acclaimed rooftop bar, Le Capian, where the luckiest travelers in town go for cocktails and appetizers. Both places are excellent precursors to a night on the town.
Address: 1 Place Daviel, 13002 Marseille, France
Website: Capian Bar
9. Bars, clubs, and discothèques
One amazing advantage of visiting Marseille is its incredibly active after-hours scene. There is a long list of bars, nightclubs, and other establishments to be appreciated, each one vying for a spot near the very top. Among these are le WhiskyBar and La Dame Noire, which are both celebrated for good food and even better vibes. Better, yet, escape the ordinary over at New Cancan, a widely known LGBT nightclub with special themed nights and animated live music performances.
Address: 3 rue Sénac de Meilhan, 13001 Marseille, France
Website: New Cancan (in French)
A delicious bonus
Marseille is known for being a particularly diverse, multi-faceted city, and its fun-loving nighttime attractions are no different. Of course you could never go wrong with just a yummy meal. So if you’re up for keeping things simple, there are some incredible dining options in the area. After all, experiencing some of the best things to do in Marseille at night doesn’t have to mean ignoring the urge to also stuff your face while on a personalized foodie tour around town.
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