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Marseille Gay Travel

Marseille gay guide to the LGBT friendly hotels, things to do, restaurants, gay bars, saunas & more.

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The Gay Travel Experience: Marseille, France

A bustling city in the south of France, Marseille has a sizeable gay community. You may not be able to recognize it right away, though! Marseille’s gay scene is a bit hidden and LGBT nightlife is more subdued.

Marseille gay traveler
Marseille gay traveler
LGBT travelers in Marseille

In this city with a population of roughly a million people, you’ll find a few gay bars and various gay-friendly hotels. But not nearly as many as in cities like Paris or Nice. Marseille. Overall, the gay community is more discreet.

LGBT travelers in Marseille

Gay saunas on the other hand, almost outnumber gay bars in Marseille. They’re actually much more popular (and surely worth a visit). This definitely supports how a decent portion of the city’s gay community are not as publicly open with their sexuality.

gay tourist in Marseille
attraction in Marseille
gay tourist in Marseille

I spent nearly a week in Marseille seeing some Lebanese friends who live in the city for work. I had the chance to experience local gay life, meet a couple new people, and explore all the wonderful things to do here.

attraction in Marseille

Gay Friendly Hotels in Marseille

Alex Hotel & Spa

Alex Hotel & Spa is an incredibly popular and highly-rated gay friendly hotel in Marseille. Their rooms have modern layouts decorated with fun colors.

Marseille gay hotel
Alex Hotel Marseille
Marseille gay hotel

The hotel’s fitness center and spa facilities are also quite enticing, which consist of a hammam and sauna. Alex Hotel is located in a quaint part of town near the city’s main train station, not far from the popular Vieux Port. It’s a convenient place for travelers.

Alex Hotel Marseille

Mama Shelter Marseille

Mama Shelter Marseille is a women-owned Marseille hotel that caters to LGBT travelers. They’re popular for their quirky-styled bar and lounge, where guests love to gather after hours.

Marseille gay friendly hotel
Marseille gay friendly hotel
Mama Shelter hotel

While Mama Shelter isn’t located in the exact center of Marseille, the hotel is only a 9-minute ride away from the Vieux Port. Here you can get more of an authentic neighborhood vibe.

Mama Shelter hotel

Sofitel Marseille Vieux Port

Sofitel Marseille Vieux Port is part of Accor Hotels, an LGBT-friendly hotel brand with a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion.

A five-star hotel with idyllic views of the port from both the rooms and rooftop terrace, the Sofitel will cost a little more than the average accommodations in Marseille.

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Marseille Gay Travel Experiences

Explore the Vieux Port

Marseille’s Vieux Port (Old Port) is the most picturesque area of the city. The earthy-brown buildings along the waterfront glow beautiful in bright sunlight. Rent a Bird or Lime scooter to ride around the flat pathways in the port area.

Le Panier de Marseille

Le Panier is an old Marseille neighborhood that has some incredible street art. The area is just north of the Vieux Port and relatively easy to walk to.

Le Panier street art
Le Panier street art
Le Panier neighborhood art

You can find these detailed murals in the old quarter, Le Panier Marseillais. Some of them span several stories of building facades. Their vibrant colors jump right off the walls! The art here was one of the most memorable sights of Marseille.

Le Panier neighborhood art

Mucem

At Mucem, you’ll see a beautiful contrast of old and new architecture. Mucem is the Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean.

Walk around the beautiful fortifications, which have been neatly restored in the late 1960’s. The views of the harbor and port are stunning, especially on a sunny day.

Mucem Marseille
Mucem Marseille
gay traveler at Mucem

The museum itself if in a newly-constructed, futuristic structure adjacent to the Fanal Tower. Two long narrow bridges connect the tower to the museum and the neighborhood to the north.

gay traveler at Mucem

There’s space to relax on the museum’s roof and take in views of the water through large glass walls. You can also grab coffee or a snack at the small outdoor café here.

Churches in Marseille

Cathédrale La Major is one of the most impressive Marseille churches. The interior is certainly something you won’t want to miss. Its sheer size is breathtaking. It’s not far from Le Panier, so you can plan to visit both sites at once.

La Major Cathedral
La Major Cathedral
notre dame de la guarde marseille

Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde is by far the grandest church of the city, perched at the highest point of Marseille. A golden statue of Virgin Mary sits atop the basilica, symbolically guarding the people below.

notre dame de la guarde marseille

It takes a bit of effort to get to the top. Taking a taxi is easiest. Riding an electric scooter is another option, although you will still need to park it in the designated area and climb quite a few sets of stairs afterward. Keep in mind the basilica closes at 6 PM.

electric scooters in Marseille
biggest church in Marseille
electric scooters in Marseille

You can also take a quick 2-hour segue tour to Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde. I saw a couple of groups riding these. They looked like they were having such a fun time together!

biggest church in Marseille

La Corniche

La Corniche refers to the long stretches of promenade along Marseille’s waterfront. A stroll along the city’s west-facing corniches is perfect at sunset.

La Corniche marseille
La Corniche marseille
Corniche Kennedy sunset

Corniche Kennedy is one of the most popular viewpoint spots. The views of the seaside to the north are fantastic. Staircases along the corniche lead you down to the rocky water’s edge.

Corniche Kennedy sunset

Just to the south, you can also visit Plage du Prophète, one of the few sandy beaches in Marseille. This is a popular swim spot in summer, too. Don’t forget your beach towel!

Les Goudes

A visit to Les Goudes area might just make you forget that you’re still in Marseille! The small village surrounding Port des Goudes is magical. Sunsets here are breathtaking, as the light softens over the mountainous landscape.

Port des Goudes Marseille
visiting Les Goudes
Port des Goudes Marseille

Les Goudes is about a 20-minute drive from central Marseille. You can also reach the town by public bus, which take a little over half an hour.

La Corniche marseille

I grabbed a beer at Le 20,000 Lieues, an outdoor pub overlooking the village of Les Goudes. It’s a great local spot to relax.

Parc National des Calanques

The incredible Parc National des Calanques is one of Marseille’s most famous attractions. Along the coast are various steep-sided inlets, called calanques.

Marseille gay couples tour

Some of these inlets have stunning sandy beaches. Check out the bright blue water at the famous Calanque de Sormiou.

Marseille gay couples tour
Calanques tour from Cassis

The calanques are all easily accessible by car. Renting a car for a day or two is more than worth it, especially if you prefer to relax on the beautiful beaches.

Calanques tour from Cassis

If you don’t have a car, you can book a calanques day cruise and depart from central Marseille on an epic catamaran. The cruise includes lunch and a snorkeling excursion.

Quick tours of the calanques are also available from the town of Cassis. This is what I did, since I was visiting Cassis and it was too cold to swim. You can purchase tickets from the La Visite Des Calanques boat tour agency online or in the harbor.

Restaurants in Marseille

Chez Lulu is the perfect spot for an outdoor dinner near Marseille’s Vieux Port. If it’s warm enough to sit outside, check out this restaurant. I love their side by side seat setup. It’s a nice change from sitting across the table from your partner or fiend.

food at Chez Lulu

Dinner at La Villa was the best food I had in Marseille. They’re a Mediterranean-French restaurant that serves seafood and delicious gourmet pizza. My friends and I couldn’t get enough of the mussels.

food at Chez Lulu
Marseille outdoor restaurant
Marseille outdoor restaurant

My friend Elio recommended Chez Yassine, a highly-rated Tunisian restaurant. I didn’t get a chance to go, but he loves the food here.

Restaurant area of Marseille

Try the chic Restaurant 1860 Le Palais in the Vieux Port area for a fine dining experience. They’re popular for dinner, so definitely make a reservation. They also serve brunch outside with a great view of the port.

Restaurant 1860 Le Palais
Restaurant 1860 Le Palais
Restaurant area of Marseille

A few other restaurants recommended by my local gay Marseille friends include Otto Marseille, an upscale Mediterranean restaurant as well as Le Gran Café, an Italian restaurant with a stellar ambiance.

Marseille Gay Bars

Gay bars in Marseille are on the smaller side. They’re truthfully are not as popular as much as in other European cities, but on certain nights it is possible to find some great gay nightlife.

Le Pulse gay bar

If you want to get out and explore the local gay bars, it’s best to plan to go on a weekend. I also recommend checking their social media pages to see if any specific events are planned.

Le Pulse

Le Pulse is gay bar open Tuesday through Saturday. They host lots of weeknight events, live music and parties on the weekend.

Marseille gay nightlife
Le Pulse gay bar
Marseille gay nightlife

During the summer, Le Pulse makes use of the ample outdoor space of the adjacent plaza of Cours Julien, setting up a small outdoor bar.

L’Annexe Bar

L’Annexe Bar is popular for their music and upbeat atmosphere. People come here to dance and always rave about the friendly bartenders!

L'Annexe gay bar

They brand themselves as a straight-friendly gay bar, however the vibe is largely gay.

gay nightlife in Marseille
L'Annexe gay bar

L’Endroit

L’Endroit is the most centrally-located Marseille gay bar, just steps away from the Vieux Port waterfront. There aren’t any rainbow flags on the building’s façade, so if you don’t see the colorful sign above, it can be easy to miss.

With a dive-bar ambiance, L’Endroit is on the smaller side. But it’s really all you need. Drinks are pretty cheap, too!

gay nightlife in Marseille

Marseille Gay Saunas

Marseille has quite a few gay saunas, which I’d say makes up for a less than stellar gay bar scene! While I didn’t get to visit them myself, here are the top gay saunas in Marseille.

Les Thermes – Sauna Masculin

Les Thermes is a relatively new gay sauna in Marseille that opened in 2019. Inside you’ll find a spacious swimming pool, dry sauna, video rooms, all open until 2 AM.

Marseille gay sauna

Weekly events include Thursday naked parties and La Cruise Wednesdays. Guys aged 25 years or younger typically get a discount on entry!

Cargo Sauna

Cargo Sauna takes pride in their four floors of updated facilities which include group showers, lounge areas, a Finnish sauna, swimming pool, jacuzzi and smoking room. Underwater lights in the jacuzzies give the room a sexy, comfortable ambiance.

Cargo gay sauna
Cargo gay sauna
Marseille gay sauna

Conveniently located right near the Vieux Port, Cargo is super easy to get to from anywhere in Marseille.

Marseille Travel Tips

Tourist-Oriented Restaurants

The restaurants along the Vieux Port waterfront will look convenient and pretty, but you’re better off eating somewhere just a few blocks inland.

Vieux Port touristic area

Most seaside restaurants here are going to cater to tourists and likely won’t have as good of food. Don’t stress though, because there are loads of great restaurants just south of the Vieux Port.

Marseille downtown area
Vieux Port touristic area
Marseille immigrant community

Immigrant Communities in Marseille

Marseille has a huge immigrant population. The city has especially large Algerian, Tunisian and Moroccan communities. These people bring with them a lot of culture and tradition.

Marseille immigrant community

Embrace this and go eat at one of the many Tunisian or Moroccan restaurants in Marseille!

Driving in Marseille

One of the most populated metro areas of France, driving in Marseille can be tricky. People also tend to drive more aggressively here compared to other areas in the south of France.

driving through Marseille
driving through Marseille
Marseille downtown area

Be aware of toll roads and tunnels, for which you should always have a credit card handy. If you’ll need parking near the city center / Vieux port area, plan ahead. You’ll likely need to use a parking garage.

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I hope you’ve found this Marseille gay guide useful! Next, check out wolfyy’s gay travel guides to other southern French cities like Montpellier and Nice.

Need more ideas for gay destinations? Explore wolfyy’s full list of gay travel guides.

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