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Marseille or Nice? Comparison Guide 2024

Marseille or Nice? Comparison Guide 2024

Marseille is a popular city in France, while Nice is a popular tourist destination. Visitors can enjoy both cities’ unique blend of culture, history, and natural beauty.

However, some key differences between the two cities may influence your decision of which one to visit on your next trip to France. In this article, we will compare Marseille and Nice in terms of their history, culture, attractions, and overall atmosphere to help you determine which city is right for you.

Marseille vs Nice - A Quick Overview

Marseille or Nice? – A Quick Overview

  • Marseille and Nice are both cities located in the south of France, on the Mediterranean coast.
  • France has five major cities, with Marseille being the second largest.
  • Marseille is known for its rich history, cultural diversity, and port, while Nice is known for its picturesque beaches, elegant architecture, and luxury shopping.
  • Both cities are popular tourist destinations with vibrant nightlife and dining scenes.
  • Marseille and Nice are also home to two football teams, Olympique de Marseille and OGC Nice, that often compete against each other in Ligue 1, France’s top professional football league.
  • The match between the two teams is called Derby de la Cote d’Azur, known for its passionate supporters and fierce competition.
  • Historically, Olympique de Marseille has a better record than OGC Nice, with more Ligue 1 wins and appearances in European competitions.
  • However, recent matches have been closely contested, with both teams having the potential to win on any given day.


Marseille is the second-largest city in France and a port city. Over 1 million people are living in Marseille, a thriving metropolis. It has a long history, diverse culture, and beautiful architecture on the Mediterranean coast. The city has several notable landmarks, including the Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde, the Old Port, and the MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations). Beaches, seafood, and lively nightlife make Marseille a popular tourist destination.


Marseille is one of France’s most important economic hubs, and it’s also known as the “Capital of the Art” because of the large number of artists who call the city home. Art museums and galleries are all over Marseille, and the city’s streets are lined with beautiful architecture.


An important city in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Nice is situated on the Mediterranean coast in southern France. It is France’s fifth most populous city and the second largest on the French Riviera. In addition to the beautiful beach clubs in Nice, France, and its vibrant culture, the city is known for its mild climate—human habitation in Nice dates back to the Paleolithic era, showing its rich history. As a Greek settlement, the city was conquered by Romans, Visigoths, and Saracens in the fourth century BC. In the Middle Ages, it was a major port and trading center.


Today, Nice is a popular tourist destination for its art museums, historical sites, and outdoor activities. The Promenade des Anglais, a long seaside boulevard, is famous for strolling and people-watching. Numerous parks and gardens can be found in the city, including the Jardin Albert 1er and the Parc des Collines de l’Estérel. There are many bars, clubs, and restaurants in Nice, which offers a vibrant nightlife. The city has several yearly music festivals, including the Nice Jazz Festival and the Nice International Fireworks Festival. Overall, Nice is a beautiful and diverse city that offers something for everyone to enjoy.


Marseille has a rich history dating back to 600 BC, when the Phoceans, a seafaring people from Asia Minor, founded the city. Marseille played an essential role in the history of France and Europe, serving as a major port and trade center for centuries. The city was occupied by the Romans, Visigoths, and Saracens and has been a part of France since 1481. Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is home to Marseille, the second-largest city in France, and its economic and cultural capital.

On the other hand, Nice has a relatively short history compared to Marseille. In the 4th century BC, the Greeks founded the city of Nikaia. The Romans and the Saracens later occupied it before becoming a part of the Kingdom of Sardinia in the 18th century. The wealthy and elite began to flock to Nice soon after France annexed it in 1860. Today, Nice is the fifth-largest city in France and is known for its elegant architecture and sophisticated atmosphere.


Marseille is a melting pot of cultures, with a diverse population that includes people of French, North African, and Mediterranean descent. The city is known for its vibrant street life, markets, and festivals, such as the Fête des Lumieres and the Fête de la Musique. Marseille is also home to many museums and art galleries, including the MuCEM (Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée), showcasing the Mediterranean region’s art and culture.

On the other hand, Nice has a more refined and elegant culture. The city is known for its sophisticated restaurants, boutiques, and cafes. Nice is also home to many museums and art galleries, including the Musée Matisse, which houses a collection of works by the famous French artist Henri Matisse. In addition to the Nice Jazz Festival and Nice Carnival, the city hosts many cultural events.


Marseille has many iconic attractions, such as the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, a 19th-century basilica that offers panoramic views of the city and the sea. The city also has several beaches, including the Plage des Catalans and the Plage du Prado, where visitors can relax and enjoy the Mediterranean sunshine. Other popular attractions in Marseille include the Old Port, the Château d’If, and the Calanques National Park.

Nice also has many attractions to offer visitors. The Promenade des Anglais is a popular spot for a stroll along the beach and offers beautiful views of the Mediterranean. Several museums and galleries are also available in the city, including the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, which displays contemporary art. Other popular attractions in Nice include Place Massena, the Parc du Château, and the Colline du Château.

Compare the Beaches of Marseille and Nice

Regarding beaches, Marseille and Nice have a lot in common. Both cities have beautiful white sand beaches perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxation. However, a few key differences should make your trip to each city more enjoyable. For one, Marseille’s beach is more extended and broader than Nice’s. Marseille Beach Clubs are also home to some excellent seafood restaurants, while Nice’s Beach is better known for its fresh fruit and yogurt vendors.

Compare the beaches of Marseille and Nice

Marseille’s Vieux Port is an excellent destination for those looking for an active beach vacation. Among the water sports you can do here are windsurfing and kitesurfing. And if you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, the Cote d’Azur is home to some of the most exclusive resorts in the world, like the Hermitage Cap Ferrat. So, whichever beach town you decide to visit, enjoy all the best that Marseille and Nice offer.

Compare the Sights of Marseille and Nice

You must see the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde in Marseille. The 19th-century basilica offers panoramic views of the city and the sea and is considered one of the city’s most important landmarks. The Old Port of Marseille, another must-see attraction, is home to many restaurants, cafes, and shops and is a great place to relax and soak up the city’s atmosphere. The Château d’If, an island fortress in the middle of the Mediterranean, is another popular attraction in Marseille. This historic fortress was once a prison and is now open to the public.

Nice also has many attractions to offer visitors. The Promenade des Anglais is a popular spot for a stroll along the beach and offers beautiful views of the Mediterranean. The Place Massena, a large square in the heart of Nice, is great for watching street performers, enjoying a drink or a meal, and enjoying the city’s lively atmosphere. The Parc du Château, a large park on a hill above the city, offers visitors beautiful views of Nice and the Mediterranean. The Colline du Château is another must-see attraction in Nice. The hilltop castle is home to the Museum of Asian Arts and offers visitors panoramic city views.

The Best Things to Do in Marseille

There are many things to do in this popular tourist destination. I have shared the top 7 things to do in Marseille in this post. Let’s read.

Visit the Cathedral

A major landmark in the old city, the cathedral is located in the city’s heart.

Visit the Cathedral

Explore the Old Port

Marseille is also known as the ‘City of Bridges,’ and the Old Port is one of the oldest ports in the world.

Walk on the Promenade des Anglais

It is the oldest promenade in the world, and you will find everything from restaurants, cafes and boutiques.

Try Local Cuisine

You will find traditional French dishes and delicious local cuisine in Marseille.

Check out the Museums

The museums of Marseille are among the best in the country.

Watch a Musical Performance

Every year there is a big musical event in the old city.

Take a Walk Along the Old Ramparts

Enjoy the scenic view from the ramparts.

The Best Things to Do in Nice

What is the most popular city in France? No, it is not Paris or Cannes, but the French city of Nice. In the south of France, it is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, thanks to its beaches, which are among the best in the world.

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur has its capital in Nice, the city of the same name. Its name means ‘Niche of the Gods,’ and it was the summer residence of the kings of the House of Savoy. The region is located between the Alpine Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. The Alps are located in the north, and the Mediterranean in the south.

Nice has a temperate climate and mild weather. It averages 1500mm of rainfall yearly, and the sea temperature is 16-20°C.

You can enjoy the following activities in Nice:

Visit the Promenade des Anglais

One of Nice’s most popular attractions is the promenade. It is a walkway along the beach with different restaurants, hotels, and shops. In terms of history, the promenade has a lot to offer. In the old times, the promenade used to be a Roman road, and it was the main entrance to the city.

It has become a famous tourist spot in the entire world due to its location and the beauty of the surroundings.

Visit the Promenade des Anglais

Take a Walk Around the Old Town

If you want to experience the city’s old charm, it is the best place to visit. It is a perfect place to enjoy the history of the city.

The Old Town has many historical attractions, including the Roman Theatre, the Basilica of St. John, and the Fountain of the Lions.

Enjoy the View From the Top of the Castle Hill

The view from the top of the castle hill is one of the best things to do in Nice. Visiting this museum is the best thing you can do if you are a fan of history.

It is the highest point, with a 360-degree view of the entire city. Views of the Promenade and the entire bay are available.

Explore the City From the Top of the Clock Tower

It is the best place to visit if you want to see the city’s best views. Clock towers have many interesting things to discover.

The clock tower offers a great view of the city from the top. There are various cafes in the clock tower, and you can relax while you take a sip of coffee.

Those who love architecture should visit this place. A lot of information about the city’s history can be found here.

Take a Cruise Along the Riviera

The Promenade des Anglais, a Cannes beach club, is among the most famous sights along the Riviera. You can enjoy the sunset and have a romantic dinner along the promenade.

You can also visit Fort St. Nicholas, one of the city’s oldest forts. You can go to the Citadel and learn about the city’s history. Enjoy a day at the beach. The Cote d’Azur, known as the French Riviera, is the second-largest coastline of the Mediterranean Sea after that of the Italian peninsula. Mediterranean coastal belt comprises the northern part of the region, and Alpes-Maritimes comprise the southern part. The Cote d’Azur is famous for its beaches.

Compare the Price of Marseille and Nice

When it comes to price, both Marseille and Nice are considered to be relatively affordable destinations in France. There are some significant differences between the two countries regarding the cost of accommodation, food, and activities. In terms of accommodation, Marseille is slightly more affordable than Nice. For a reasonable price, you can find a good quality hotel or a vacation rental in Marseille. However, during peak season, the prices in Nice tend to be higher than in Marseille.

Food prices in Marseille and Nice are generally similar. You can find a wide range of restaurants, cafes, and nightclubs in both cities that offer a variety of cuisines at affordable prices. However, in Nice, you will find more high-end restaurants with high prices than in Marseille. The prices of activities in Marseille and Nice are also similar. Both cities offer a wide range of activities, such as museums, art galleries, parks, and beaches, and most of them are affordable or even free to visit. However, you may find more expensive activities in Nice, like boat trips or beach clubs. You may also check out some of the best cafes in Mexico City that are very popular if you plan a visit.

Compare the Nightlife of Marseille and Nice

Marseille is a beautiful city, and its nightlife is one of the best in the world. This can be mainly attributed to the city’s many bars and clubs, which attract many people.

While traveling to the city of Nice, you must have visited this beautiful city famous for its nightlife. So, what is the difference between the nightlife of Marseille and Nice?

The Nightlife of Marseille

The nightlife in Marseille is excellent because there are various places to enjoy the nightlife. You can dance and drink in a club or have fun at a bar. There are many bars and clubs in Marseille where you can enjoy the nightlife, and it is not just limited to the nightlife. You will find plenty of beaches, restaurants, and nightclubs in Marseille.

The Nightlife of Marseille:

The Nightlife of Nice

The nightlife in Nice is very different from that in Marseille. In Nice, the nightlife is more expansive than nightclubs and bars. The possibilities are endless for you to spend the night. You can go to the movies, museums, and shopping malls or relax at the beach. Several museums in Nice are very famous, and people visit them daily. This museum is a fantastic place to go if you’re a fan of art.

Marseille, a tourist city, has many hotels, cafes, and restaurants. Unlike Nice, the nightlife is quieter, and you will find fewer tourists. Also, you can find different kinds of clubs and bars in Nice. So, the nightlife in Nice is much different from that in Marseille.

The Nightlife of Nice

5 Reasons to Choose Marseille Over Nice

It is a common question: why should you choose Marseille instead of Nice? The following five reasons explain why this is so.

The weather

Marseille is located in the south of France, the largest city in Provence. Marseille has a good climate, and the weather will not harm you even in summer. Nice is a good beach destination if you’re looking for one.

The nightlife

In Europe, Marseille is known to have one of the best nightlife scenes. If you want a place to spend a relaxed evening, there are many restaurants and bars to choose from. Regarding having fun with the nightlife, Marseille is the best place for you if you are looking for a good time.

The economy

Despite its size, there are many reasons to consider Marseille one of France’s most important economic hubs. Marseille is one of the best places to invest your money since it has a good business environment.

The culture

If you want to see the real life of Marseille, then you should visit the old town. You will get to know the history of Marseille, and you will be surprised to know that Marseille was the most important port of the Roman Empire.

The historical sites

Marseille is a city with many historical sites that make it one of the oldest cities in the world. An old town is great for those interested in visiting historical sites.

The information above should help you decide whether Marseille will be the best place to live for you. The nightlife in Marseille is one of the best things you should do if you plan on visiting the city.

The Bottom Line

The cities of Marseille and Nice are two of the most popular tourist destinations in France and two of the most contrasting cities. Marseille is a densely populated and urban city with a rich history, while Nice is a relatively small and laid-back city with a Mediterranean atmosphere. Despite their differences, the two cities have many things in common, including their rich cultural heritage and stunning natural scenery. If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation in a beautiful city, Marseille or Nice will surely be a top choice.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / proslgn.


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