There are two trip options on the Marseille tourist train, a visit to Notre Dame de Garde or a tour around the Old Town. One ride on one of the routes is included in the price of a Marseille City Pass which we’d purchased.
As we felt that we could easily walk around the Old Town, which lay fairly close to our accommodation at the Aparthotel Adagio Marseille Vieux Port, we opted for the uphill trip to Notre Dame de la Garde.
Both tourist train trips start on the northern side of Vieux Port. Initially, we tried to take the trip mid-morning, but there was such a long queue, that we decided to try in the late afternoon, when we judged that it would be quieter.
There’s a stretch of seaside drive before the tourist train begins it ascent to Notre Dame de la Garde. The church was built on the hilltop site of an ancient fort.
Everyone has to get off the tourist train the Notre Dame de la Garde car park. There’s a train every 20 minutes, so we decided to spend 20 minutes at the church.
You get some great views over Marseille, as you walk up to Notre Dame de la Garde.
On top of the 40 foot bell tower, there’s a huge golden statue of the Virgin Mary, often referred to as ‘la bonne mere’ (the good mother) of Marseille.
The architect of the current Notre Dame de la Garde in Marseille, Henri-Jacques Esperandieu, started work on the building in the 1850s, when he was only 24 years old. His vision of a colourful Romano-Byzantine design was realised.
I’d recommend taking the trip in the late afternoon, when it appears to be less popular. The last departure is at 18.20 from April to October. It’s a pity that it doesn’t run until later in the evening, especially in Summer.
As the tourist train ride to Notre Dame de la Garde costs 8 Euro, I think that it’s only worth taking it if you have purchased a Marseille City Pass. Otherwise, you can probably find a much cheaper ticket to reach the church by public transport.