As the Marseille equivalent to Montmartre, Le Panier is a fantastic history-woven quarter: sloping streets and lanes flanked with ochre buildings and terraced houses. A clutch of artisan shops sell traditional products such as scented soaps, olive-wood carvings, homemade biscuits and chocolates – not to mention pastis, the quintessential Provençal drink. For some cultural sustenance head to the arcade courtyard of the Centre de la Vieille Charité, which houses a few museums. The most picturesque part of town, the colourful Vieux Port (Old Port) is crammed with fishing boats, pleasure yachts and visitors. The lively waterfront is ringed with tempting terrace restaurants and bars, an ideal spot for an evening refreshment.
For a bird’s-eye view of the city’s sea of terracotta roofs, nothing beats the Basilica Lady of the Guard (admission free; 7am-7pm) atop the city’s highest hill, La Garde (162m). This domed Romano-Byzantine basilica sports coloured marble, murals and superbly restored mosaics.
Butting up against Marseille’s built-up environs, the Calanques' skirt 20km of crystalline coves and wild rocky inlets. They are most spectacular viewed from a boat (boat excursions leave from the Vieux Port) but they also offer ample walking opportunities with varying degrees of difficulty.