Marseille is a rich, pulsating port city bubbling over with history, cutting-edge creative spaces, and hip multicultural urbanites. Since Greek settlers came ashore around 600 BC, waves of immigrants have made Marseille (now France's second largest city) their home. Marseille's maritime heritage thrives at the vibrant Vieux Port (Old Port), where fresh-off-the-boat catches are sold each morning. Along the coast, seaside roads and cycling tracks veer around sun-scorched coves and sandy beaches. A feast of world cuisines, shops, and music and cultural celebrations ensure the pace never slows in this busy city, where the mistral wind blows.
A visit to Notre-Dame de la Garde (La bonne mere as locals call it) is a must see. Views from the top are quite superb!
Some other notable spots:
Vieux Port (old harbor): watching fishermen selling their stock by auction is a must. Arriving to Marseille in the Vieux-Port on a summer evening is something you will never forget... There is also a nice view of the harbor from the Palais du Pharo (Pharo Palace). The famous Canebière Avenue goes straight down the harbor. However the Canebière is not that interesting despite its reputation.
Notre Dame de la Garde: the big church which overlooks the city. Old fishermen used to have their boats blessed in this church. You can still see many boat models hanging around in the church. From there it is one of the nicest view of the city. You can use the tourist train from the Vieux Port to reach the church - you can get off the train, look around and board a later train back to the port
Musée des Docks Romains: an excellent museum in the old harbor from Phoenician and Roman times.
Cours Julien and La Plaine: a hangout area with bookstores, cafés, fountains, and a playground for the small ones (metro stop Cours Julien/Notre Dame du Mont). It is THE trendy area of Marseille. La Plaine is the local name for Place Jean Jaurès close to Cours Julien. Every Thursday and Saturday morning the Plaine market is the place to shop. If you are there early enough you can make very good deals, even if what you'll find there is sometimes "tombé du camion" (fallen off the truck) as one says in Marseille.
La Corniche: a walkway and a road by the sea that provides lovely views of the sea, the Chateau d'If to the south, and les Calanques to the east.
La Place Castellane: a roundabout with a grand fountain/column/sculpture in the center, with excellent cinemas and cafés surrounding. There is another place called La Castellane: it is a poor suburb of Marseille where Zinedine Zidane the famous football player was born. Be careful not to confuse the two places.