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Fort Saint Jean

This medieval fort is the perfect place for some urban exploration in the heart of Marseille, home to ancient buildings, art and gardens.

Fort Saint Jean is an imposing sight as you approach Marseille by sea or by land, a testimony to the city’s military past. This is where Crusaders left for Jerusalem, and where the Knights Hospitaliers had their home base from the 13th to the 17th century. 

Expanded by successive generations of rulers, from the kings of Provence to the King of France, the fort today is a major tourist attraction. Visit the gardens, learn about Provençal history in the museums, or simply climb to the top to appreciate the amazing views of the city.

Bring sunscreen and a hat, because you could spend a whole day exploring the old fort. Notice the cannons which, unusually, face towards the city, installed as they were by Louis XIV, who was worried about rebellion in the city after he expelled the Knights Hospitaliers. 

Go down the narrow passageways in search of the modern art installations that dot the fort, including outsized heads. Linger in the “Jardin des Migrations,” a garden of Mediterranean plants that is designed to symbolize the many waves of immigration that have come to Marseille over the years.

Have a coffee or lunch as you sit on the ramparts, looking out towards the ocean. Imagine yourself as a soldier tasked with defending the city, watching the horizon for the tell-tale sails of approaching invaders. 

Enjoy the calm of this city oasis and finish your visit by wandering down to the 12th-century Chapel of the Order of Malta. Wander amid the contemporary art installations that adorn the walls, bringing almost 900 years of history together in one place.

The Fort Saint Jean is located on the northern head of Marseille’s port. Reach it by bridge from the Église St-Laurent or via the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilization’s roof deck. Reach the fort on foot in 25 minutes from the Marseille-St-Charles station. Take the bus in 10 minutes from the train station. Drive in 20 minutes from the Marseille Provence Airport. Metered parking is available in nearby underground structures. 

Enter Fort Saint Jean for free. It is open to visitors daily except Tuesday, from mid-morning to evening, and closes during lunch hours.


Guide to Exploring around Fort Saint Jean


Best Lodging Options Near Fort Saint Jean

See all 3,278 Properties near Fort Saint Jean
Golden Tulip Marseille Euromed ¥10,060
Golden Tulip Marseille Euromed

Golden Tulip Marseille Euromed

6 Place Henri Verneuil, Marseille
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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    Radisson Blu Hotel, Marseille Vieux Port ¥14,632
    Radisson Blu Hotel, Marseille Vieux Port

    Radisson Blu Hotel, Marseille Vieux Port

    38-40 Quai De Rive Neuve, Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhone
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in 7th Arrondissement, this romantic hotel is steps from Old Port of Marseille, La Criee National Theater of Marseille, and Abbaye de Saint Victor. Fort Saint Nicholas and Hotel de Ville are also within 15 minutes. Vieux-Port Station is 10 minutes by foot and Estrangin Station is 15 minutes.

      Sofitel Marseille Vieux Port ¥19,081
      Sofitel Marseille Vieux Port

      Sofitel Marseille Vieux Port

      36 Boulevard Charles Livon, Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhone
         
        5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        This family-friendly Marseille hotel is located by the sea, within 1 mi (2 km) of Fort Saint Nicholas, La Corniche, and Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations. Old Port of Marseille and Marseille Provence Cruise Terminal are also within 3 mi (5 km). Vieux-Port Station is 15 minutes by foot and Estrangin Station is 21 minutes.

        NH Collection Marseille ¥6,407
        NH Collection Marseille

        NH Collection Marseille

        37 Boulevard des Dames, Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhone
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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          Grand Hotel Beauvau Marseille Vieux-Port – MGallery ¥10,461
          Grand Hotel Beauvau Marseille Vieux-Port – MGallery

          Grand Hotel Beauvau Marseille Vieux-Port – MGallery

          4 Rue Beauvau, Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhone
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in 1st Arrondissement, this romantic hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Old Port of Marseille, Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, and Notre-Dame de la Garde. Les Terrasses du Port and Marseille Provence Cruise Terminal are also within 2 mi (3 km). Vieux-Port Station is only a 2-minute walk and Noailles Station is 7 minutes.

            InterContinental Marseille - Hotel Dieu ¥19,871
            InterContinental Marseille - Hotel Dieu

            InterContinental Marseille - Hotel Dieu

            1 Place Daviel, Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhone
               
              5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in 2nd Arrondissement, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Old Port of Marseille and Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations. Marseille Provence Cruise Terminal and Grand Port Maritime de Marseille are also within 2 mi (3 km). Vieux-Port Station is 8 minutes by foot and Colbert Metro Station is 8 minutes.

              Novotel Marseille Vieux Port ¥11,968
              Novotel Marseille Vieux Port

              Novotel Marseille Vieux Port

              36 Boulevard Charles Livon, Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhone
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in 7th Arrondissement, this spa hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Fort Saint Nicholas and La Corniche. Old Port of Marseille and Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations are also within 2 mi (3 km). Vieux-Port Station is 16 minutes by foot and Estrangin Station is 22 minutes.

                Residhome Marseille Saint Charles ¥6,662
                Residhome Marseille Saint Charles

                Residhome Marseille Saint Charles

                10 boulevard Charles Nedelec, Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhone
                   
                  3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in 1st Arrondissement, this residence is within 1 mi (2 km) of La Canebiere, Old Port of Marseille, and Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations. Marseille Provence Cruise Terminal and Grand Port Maritime de Marseille are also within 2 mi (3 km). Jules Guesde Station and Colbert Metro Station are within a 5-minute walk.