Southern comfort in Marseille ….
With a population of just over 850,000, the city of Marseilles is second only to Paris in size yet its airport ranks fifth among France’s biggest gateways after Paris’s two hubs, Nice Côte d’Azur Airport also on the south coast, and Lyon’s Saint-Exupéry Airport.Since 1934, the Marseille Provence Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) has managed the gateway which has not been growing as fast as it would like. In 2011 traffic fell by -2.1% – the only airport in the top 15 to see a decline in passenger numbers.Nevertheless, Marseille Provence acts as a major Mediterranean portal for low cost carriers in particular. The airport invested in the mp² terminal which opened in 2006 as a strategic way to make it a home airport for this market. Ryanair is now one of its main tenants serving a number of cities across Europe as well as tourist destinations in North Africa.On the shopping front, the airport is limited due to the regional nature of the passenger profile but there is enough to keep you busy if you are flying from the main terminal. There are several Relay units in the building; in Hall 1 on the ground floor, Hall 4 on the upper floor and Hall 1 in the departure lounge to cover your magazine, newspaper and small gifts needs.
For a range of watches, jewellery and accessories the two Danael Montres & Bijoux stores in Hall 1 departures and Hall 4 first floor are perfect for browsing everything from upscale to more mainstream products and brands. Another possibility for gifts of the perfume and pampering kind is the Marionnaud Parfumerie on the upper floor of Hall 4 – where the beauty range is wide as you would expect from France’s biggest perfumery chain.
The main duty free store in the Hall 1 departure area is the Multi-store Provence Aéroboutique which also has a large selection of perfumes and cosmetics plus spirits (with a natural focus on French wines and Champagnes) and delicious Provençal specialities, plus tobacco, cameras and audiovisual, children’s toys, confectionery and luggage. Another similar store is located in the Hall 3 Schengen area
Découvrir la Provence, in Hall 1 on the ground floor and in Hall 4, is the place for souvenirs such as Provençal handicrafts and specialities and probably the best place to go for something authentic from the region.And of course if you want to have that traditional Marseille café experience at the airport, head for one of the two Cafes Debout (Hall 4 departures and the ground floor of Hall 1) which have been in the city since 1932, and where you can find regional confectionery – coffees and calissons (French candies well known in this region) plus other cakes and snacks.For a more sophisticated dining experience there are also Provençal specialities “- or simple pizzas -” at the Restaurant Bleu Olive with dishes created by C Ernst the Chef of Le Moment, a famous restaurant in Marseille.
Marseille Provence Airport Factfile
- Passenger numbers 2011: 7.4 million, down -2.1% on 2010.
- Terminals: Single terminal divided into four sections plus a low-cost terminal called mp² opened in 2006.
- Airlines: Just over 30 (scheduled and charter) serving 68 destinations in 21 countries. The biggest carriers (by number of routes) are Air France, Ryanair, Aigle Azur, Air Algérie, Air Mediteranee and Twin Jet.
- Worth knowing: The airport is a fair way out of the city centre, about 27km to the north-west which makes it just as easily accessible from Aix-en-Provence which is due north of Marseilles and worth a visit if you like historic French towns and if you happen to like opera; the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence in June/July is ranked among the best in Europe.
See our general airport shopping guide to …
- Paris Charles de Gualle Airport
- See our 2012 guide to Paris CDG Terminal 1 Shopping
- See our 2012 guide to Paris CDG Terminal 2 Shopping
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