The best bars and nightlife in Marseille

Le Rooftop, Marseille
Perched on top of the vast Terrasses du Port commercial centre, Le Rooftop is one of the best bars in Marseille - CDUTREY

Marseille is both a big city and a working port, so naturally it doesn’t lack for bars, some of them with pretty raucous reputations. Many of the best of the rest cluster around the Vieux Port, though these days, the hippest of all, gather in the streets around Rue Sainte et Rue d’Endoume, up above the Vieux Port in a previously little-visited district. Other highlights include a sprawling rooftop bar that gives directly onto the sea, a pleasingly bonkers bar in a design-conscious hotel, and a fab spot for craft beer drinkers with more than 400 varieties on offer.

For further Marseille inspiration, see our guide to the city and its best hotels, restaurants and things to do.

Find a bar by area

Vieux Port

Le Bar de la Marine

Despite what the locals will tell you, this port-side bar is almost certainly not where Marseille writer and film-maker Marcel Pagnol set vital scenes from his Marius, Fanny and César trilogy, but it is where Colin Firth declared his feelings in Love Actually. The huge terrace is a fine gathering point at aperitif time, and the interior retains a 1930s aspect. Later on, the Marine gives over to feisty contemporary music. Classic Provençal dishes are also available.

Contact: 00 33 491 549542; see Facebook page
Prices: £

Le Bar de la Marine, Marseille
You might recognise Le Bar de la Marine from Love Actually – get better acquainted with it over some delicious aperitifs - SYLVAIN RAVERA

La Caravelle

Go into the Hotel Belle Vue and up the grand staircase to this small, first-floor jazz and tapas bar. It has retained atmospheric pre-war elements – it was already a jazz bar in the 1920s – and boasts a tiny terrace affording cracking views over the Vieux Port. The atmosphere is part bodega, part maritime. Expect live jazz on certain evenings, and an ambience which evolves from aperitif time (pastis, good selection of wines) through the cocktail hours and onto a later night halt, with a  cracking collection of spirits. There's also decent food at lunchtime and dinner, with mains from €23 (£19).

Prices: £

La Caravelle, Marseille
Live jazz and pre-war interiors help make La Caravelle a lively haunt

Cours Julien

Bar Mama Shelter

The exterior is anonymous – but inside this low-cost, high-design hotel, the bar is pleasingly bonkers... think primary-school-meets-gentleman's club, with rubber swimming rings above the bar, a good little terrace and some of Marseille's hippest elements assembling for apéritifs. It's off-centre, in the Cours Julien district, with other good options nearby if you fancy a bit of a bar crawl. The Café Julien (39 Cours Julien) is as rock'n'roll as a little music café gets, while Le Makeda also puts on some groovy shows – including ace jazz/soul singer Lusaint on November 20, 2024 (103 Rue Ferrari).

Prices: ££

Bar Mama Shelter, Marseille
The destination bar at Mama Shelter dominates the ground floor

La Tasca

La Tasca is a recommendable tapas bar – with Spanish, Provençal and Corsican elements – in the arty Cours Julien district. Look out for fish, vegetable and meat specialities, together with proper aperitif platters of charcuterie and/or cheese, which might even constitute your full meal. Tapas-wise, you’ll need maybe three or four to furnish the equivalent of a main course. With tapas starting at around €4 (£3.40), that’s pretty much ok, price-wise, especially if you’re seated on the somewhat romantic summer terrace. Cocktails – from €8/£7 a throw – or maybe a glass of Provençal rosé wine won’t hurt at all.

Prices: £

la tasca, Marseille
La Tasca is a recommendable tapas bar – with Spanish, Provençal and Corsican elements

Le Panier

Voute Virgo

An unbelievably cool spot slotted into the vaulted arcades fronting the sea and sat in the lee of the cathedral. Visual arts meet a contemporary rock and electro soundtrack in what turn out to be surprisingly vivacious surroundings. The idea is that what meets the eye nourishes the contemporary urban soundtrack – and vice versa – and that, this being the case, everyone has a good time. There are regularly changing exhibitions, concerts, drinks, tapas and a Sunday brunch. If you are cool and cultivated, you’ll fit right in. If you’re not – you’ll at least find the place fascinating.

Contact: 00 33 645 848258;
Prices: ££

Voute Virgo, Marseille
At Voute Virgo you can experience a jumble of contemporary art with music - JULIE LAGIER

Bar des 13 Coins

The "13 Coins" has a reputation for embodying the typical Marseille bar, to the extent that it's featured as such in several films. It also served as the model for the bar in France's favourite television soap opera, the Marseille-based Plus Belle La Vie, and so is revered by fans, as Brit soap fans might revere the original of the Rover's Return. More interesting renown, perhaps, comes from it once being the haunt of poet and crime-writer Jean-Claude Izzo, than whom no-one ever wrote better about Marseille (try Total Kheops). Above and beyond all that, however, it's a super-friendly spot on whose terrace locals and tourists all meet up.

Contact: 00 33 491 915649; see Facebook page
Prices: £

Bar des 13 Coins, Marseille
Bar des 13 Coins is a classic Le Panier spot for an evening pastis

St Victor

Café de l’Abbaye

This looks like a pretty standard café-bar from the outside, its blue wooden frontage flanked by a scattering of terrace tables. But it’s here, on the cusp between anonymity and urban coolness, that young professionals and students join locals in impressive numbers. The loveliest time is sundown, when the sunset views over the port and sea beyond are a sumptuous accompaniment to any apéritif. You’ll appreciate them from the small terrace or, more likely, from the pavement opposite onto which customers spill with panache. But matters continue into the night as the lights go down.

Contact: 00 33 491 66 87 57;
Prices: £

Café de l’Abbaye, Marseille
Café de l’Abbaye, Marseille

Le Victor

A favourite Marseille beer bar that mixes seriousness of purpose – 400 craft beers and special tasting glasses for each category – with cool conviviality. You’re not being tested on your beer knowledge, but you are being given a chance to expand it with beers from Marseille itself, Provence, France, Europe and the rest of the world. If undecided, try one of the two better Marseille brews: Minotte or Bières de la Plaine. Surroundings are chic and simple – somewhere between a warehouse, a bookshop and a public bar – and the place in general is devilish difficult to leave. If you tire of beer, Le Victor will also supply you with organic wines and spirits.

Prices: £

Le Victor, Marseille
Le Victor is a favourite Marseille beer bar that mixes seriousness of purpose

Palais de Justice district

Back to Bac

New bar offering top-line cocktails – and six private karaoke “boxes” which you can reserve for up to 20 people at a time, for singing which only those whom you choose will hear. It’s a concept which has caught on fast in Marseille, so you’ll need to book your slot in advance. Expect unrestrained conviviality, a welcome break from nightspots aspiring to little more than cool.

Prices: £

Carry Nation

Terrific, and secret, cocktail bar paying tribute to the speakeasies of prohibition times in the US. Named after the most famous of all US anti-booze campaigners – Kentucky-born Mrs Nation would set about bars with an axe – the place requires that you book in advance. Only then are you told its exact location, and what the entry code is for that evening. No food, just cocktails, a world class collection of spirits – and a sense of clandestine conviviality.

Prices: ££

Le Rooftop

Perched on top of the vast Terrasses du Port commercial centre, Le Rooftop gives directly onto the sea, making for the loveliest possible summer evenings under the stars. Now in its tenth year, it serves cocktails and aperitif platters which do the business pleasantly – and there’s free entry between 7pm and 9pm, the hours in-between counting as what the French call “les afterwork”.

Price: ££

How we choose

Every bar, venue or experience in this curated list has been tried and tested by our destination expert, who has visited to provide you with their insider perspective. We cover a range of budgets and styles, from casual pubs to exquisite cocktail bars – to best suit every type of traveller – and consider the service, drinks, atmosphere and price in our recommendations. We update this list regularly to keep up with the latest openings and provide up to date recommendations.