Marseille is the largest city in south-eastern France with a population of 800,000. It’s metro system is one of Europe’s smallest, with 2 lines and 29 stations, the newest of which, Geze, opened in December 2019.
The system was first opened in 1977, on line one between La Rose and Saint-Charles. The rest of line one opened in 1978. Soon afterwards, construction of line two began, which was completed in 1987. Over the following years extra sections have been added and the network now extends to over 22 kilometres. It carries over 200,000 people per day
The trains have the same rubber tyre technology as parts of the Paris metro, and were built in France by companies that are now part of Alstom.
The stations are mostly functional, with a couple of exceptions.
St Charles, the interchange with Marseille’s main station, has large murals of a TGV and a steam locomotive on the walls and Noialles has several glass cases of large model trams and trolleybuses on display. The station adjacent to the harbour, Vieux-Port, has walls covered in beach pebbles, and several large fish tanks on the platforms, the only station I am aware of with fish swimming on the platforms!
Using the metro is quick and easy, with frequent trains – up to every 3 minutes, and a 24hour travel pass, that covers the metro, trams and buses is 5.20 Euros It works for 24hours rather than a fixed day, so if you arrive in the afternoon it’s good for the following morning. There’s also a 72 hour pass for 10.80 Euros.
More information on buying and using tickets is available on the Marvellous Provence website and the Marseille Tourism site. There’s also a mention of the system on Urban Rail
The ticket machines are easy to use, with several language options. They’re similar to many other French and Belgian metro and tram ticket machines, use the roller to make the selection you want then press the green button. None of the machines I looked at took contactless payments, though they take cards as well as cash. The barriers have contactless pads like the London tube, and there are validation points on the trams just inside the doors. Marseille is a hectic city with plenty to see, and the public transport network is a cheap, quick and easy way to get around.
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