One of the best places in Marseille to relax and enjoy the sunshine is Fort Saint-Jean, which lies at the northern mouth of Vieux Port (the Old Port).
The fort was built in 1660. I appreciated that you get a much better sense of it being a defensive building from the sea on the ferry from Vieux Port out to Chateau d’If.
After being used as the HQ for German troops during WW2, the fort was disused, until it was taken over by the French Ministry of Culture in 1960.
Since 2013, Fort Saint-Jean has officially been part of the adjacent Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (MuCEM). The buildings are joined by a pedestrian foot bridge.
However, you don’t need to pay an admission fee if you just want to explore the grounds of Fort Saint-Jean. There are free, clean pubic toilets in the grounds.
There are some great views of Vieux Port from Fort Stain-Jean. You can make out Notre Dame de la Garde on the peak to the right of the photo below.
The gardens at Fort Saint-Jean are large and beautiful.
There’s a selection of seats, picnic benches and sun loungers dotted around.
If you go to the top of the gardens near the footbridge to MuCEM, you can see Marseille Cathedral.
I loved the three heads sculpture at Fort Saint-Jean.
I’d highly recommend that you take some time out to enjoy the gardens at Fort Saint-Jean when you’re visiting Marseille. You should also go across the footbridge to the rooftop terrace of MuCEM. where there’s a cafe.