Presentation of the destination
Marseille is an ancient city that is nestled between the sea and the hills. This is the oldest city in France with a rich and unique heritage and culture. A bubbling port city that has a multicultural population, from the Greek settlers who made this their home in 600 BC, to the immigrants to have today, made Marseille home, this is a city that is constantly moving with the season and the passions of it's inhabitants. Marseille has a maritime heritage that is alive even today at the Vieux Port, indulge in fresh seafood cuisine at any of the world class restaurants in the city. This city enjoys over 300 day of sunshine in the year. The summers are early and warm. The mistral blows 90 days in a year, it envelops the sky of Marseille in pure and sublime light that has motivated many great renaissance artists to capture the skyline in their work.
Points of interests / things to see
This is considered to be the oldest urban quarter in France. Climb up the hill to the north of Vieux Port and you will see the area that the Greeks decided to settle down in the olden days. This was also the very location that the immigrants who came into this country decided to stay illegally and this led the area to have a notorious reputation. The view from this region is phenomenal and it is definitely the heart of this city. Wander around this ancient area and you will arrive at an amazing 17th century building. There are three levels of arcades and this was the poorhouse in ancient times. Today, it is home to two museums, Museum of Mediterranean Archaeology and African, Oceanic and Amerindian Arts. On site is the largest collection of Egyptian treasures, after the Louvre. Walk ahead and you will be confronted with the Pierre Pugets domed chapel that stands majestically in the courtyard. This quarter is rich in history and it has sometimes been known as Marseille's Montmartre. It is a scenic spot with sloping streets and a colorful personality. This quarter was destroyed during WWII and after it was rebuilt, it metamorphosed into a crisscross of lanes that hide beautiful artisan shops, workshops and houses that have laundry drying on strings.
The best way to see the city of Marseille is on the hop on, hop off, bus tour. Once your cruise ship docks, make your way to this double decker bus that is about 20 minutes away at the Old Port. This bus will make a journey through 13 stops along the way and you can get off or on, any number of times. You can see Marseille at your pace and listen to the audio commentary that will highlight the history and facts of this city. A city that was founded by the Greeks, it has a history that is over 2600 years old. Hop off at the Notre Dame de la Garde, a majestic church that rises over the rooftops of Marseille. You will be treated to panoramic views of the Mediterranean sea and the city below. The Fort Saint Jean is the famous entrance to the Old Port of Marseille, it was built in 1660 by Louis XIV. An amazing bustling of energy as the fishermen sell their catches as they disembark. The Oriol Coniche is at a stunning location and you will see a different side to the city and the coastline. The magnificent Chateau d'If is seen in the distance and you will be told of Alexandre Duma's book, 'The Count of Monte Cristo' that was set at that location.
The Musée d'Archéologie Méditerranéenne de Marseille has a large collection of ancient artifacts that shed light on this ancient civilization that has been here for over 2600 years. This museum is also famous for it's intriguing collection of Egyptian artifacts that covers the rich civilization from the beginning of the Empire to the Coptic era. The Egyptian antiquities is outstanding and it is the biggest in Provence and it has been acknowledged as having the second largest collection after Louvre. The section devoted to the Celtic Ligurian is with 3BC artifacts that archaeologists discovered at Velaux, this is about 28 km northwest of Marseille. This impressive building was used as an almshouse for the poor. From the 17th century, it housed thousands of the poor of this city, but it was renovated to it's past glory in the 20th century and today stands majestically on this ancient location, housing the museums, academic institutions and cafe. The building has an arched pink stone courtyard of the Center de la Vieille Charite, and it houses the beautiful Musée d'Arts Africains, Océaniens & Amérindiens. Walk around the displays and notice the striking masks from the Americas, Africa and the Pacific Oceans. There are regular temporary displays at this museum.
Get on a bicycle and explore this ancient city. There are electric bikes that require less pedaling and it is not strenuous. The tour begins from the Old Port in central Marseille, your local guide will lead the way through the narrow cobbled streets and let you into the secrets of this city with funny anecdotes. Notice the elders playing the popular local game Petanque along the route. Pass through the Palais du Pharo and the Notre Dame de la Garde as your guide shares the historical stories of this ancient city. This journey is fun and the electric bike lets you admire the scenery of the coastline without pressure. Explore the picturesque ports that many tourists will never see. You will be able to stop and take a break or a picture at any of the spectacular cliffs along the way. The Palai du Pharo gives panoramic view of the city and the Old Port, admire the breathtaking basilica nearby and the ancient Abbey of St. Victor. Ride on the Corniche du Président John F Kennedy, the coastal road that will lead you near the picturesque fishing village of Vallon des Auffes and on to the rocky bay of Anse de Malmousque. An exhilarating experience, seeing the sights of this ancient city on a bicycle.
There are a few islands around Marseille that are inhabited and these are spectacular and beautiful. Take a trip to the most famous of the islands, the prison island of If. This was the island that the Count of Monte Cristo was imprisoned, but this is untrue, as the count is a fictitious character from a book! The climb up to the chateau may be tough and strenuous and many may struggle on the way up, but the stunning view at the fortifications is worth the effort. Along the way, do stop at the other two islands that can be visited in this region. The islands Pomegues and Ratonneau are also popularly known as Frioul. They are linked by a dyke. There are beautiful walking paths along the rugged limestone cliffs. Enjoy the scenery of the expanse of the sea before you and maybe take a dip in the creeks along the way. These islands are a haven for rare plants and many species of birds. There is an old 19th century Caroline Hospital. This served as a quarantine during the yellow fever breakout in Marseille. Walk into the quaint port village, a new construction that was completed in 1970 that has bars and restaurants catering to tourists.
On the outskirts of Marseille is a stunning and beautiful attraction called the Calanques. These are amazing limestone cliffs and crystal clear creeks that is located 20 miles to the south of the city of Marseille. A magnificent sight as you see the glowing white limestone cliffs that plunge sharply into the azure waters of the Mediterranean. This is the most dramatic rugged coast on this coastline. It is not possible to visit Calanques by road nor is is advisable to get there on foot, the best option is taking a boat. This is a two hour exhilarating trip.
The beautiful catholic church of Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica stands majestically above the city of Marseille. It was built in the 19th century in the Romanesque-Byzantine style. This church is perched on a hilltop on the south of the Vieux Port, it offers the visitors panoramic views of the city, the mountains, the islands and the Mediterranean Sea. The climb may be steep and strenuous, but there is a model tourist train that runs between the hilltop and the Vieux Port. Walk around and notice the soul stirring statue of Mary and Jesus that is on the veranda.
Marseille is the largest yachting center in France and it is the second in Europe. This is one of the most beautiful cities in the world with coves, the bay, islands and historic monuments. There are water sports for the sporting enthusiast, indulge in kayaking, diving, sailing or fishing. Marseille has 57 km of coastline and 14 ports that offer the visitor endless adventures. The beaches are not pristine, but the beaches between La Pointe Route harbour and La Madrague harbour are clean and secluded. There are buses that will take the visitor to this spot and the journey is about 20 minutes.
Marseille is a culturally diverse city and the cours Julien is the proof. This is an elongated square with an ancient fountain that has been landscaped with exotic plants. It is common to find it filled with markets on different days that sell a variety of things. You could fine antique books on alternate Saturday or fresh produce on Wednesday. The eastern side has some theaters and the entertainment is good in the evening. You could participate in a reggae or a Afro groove concert. Visitors will enjoy relaxing at the cafe terraces on the western side that serve international cuisine with the freshest of sea produce.
Vacation rentals in Marseille (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur)
How to get there ?
The Marseille-Provence Airport is the third important airport in France. There are connections to over 26 countries from here. By Train: The Mediterranean TGV arrives at the city center of Marseille from Paris in a time of three hours. The St Charles train station is well connected with the rest of the country. By Road: There are three motorways that lead into Marseille. This city is has major motorway junction. The motorways A7, A50, A55 connect Marseille to the rest of the country. A7 connects to Aix-en Provence and Salon- de-Provence. A55 is a coastal motorway, this scenic route is linked with Maritgues and is interlinked with Prado Carenage tunnel. This gives easy access to the eastern neighborhood of Marseille through the A50. By Boat: Marseille is a cruise ship port and it has many visitors entering the city through the port. This is a scenic way to visit this city. There are regular routes to Morocco, Italy, Sardinia, Algeria and Corsica. Getting around the city Walking is the best way to see this city, but the paths are steep and it will be strenuous. The bus transportation is excellent and it connects the entire city at regular intervals. You could hire a car and drive here as the roads are good, but parking may be a problem. For visitors comfortable with cycling, this is the best option.
Marseille city hall
Marseille twins towns, sister cities
Discover the marseille's international relations with partnership cities and friendship cities.
Hotels in Marseille (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur)