Marseille, the oldest city of France, overflows with cultural, architectural and artistic treasures to discover. It is a tourist destination particularly appreciated by the French and foreigners. Between tradition and modernity, the city of Marseille is waiting for you. From the Vieux Port (Old Port) to the Calanques (rocky inlets) by way of the Panier district and the Corniche facing the sea, you will certainly be amazed by the beauty of the cosmopolitan city. Beyond the game of Pétanque and its football club Olympique de Marseille (OM), Marseille reveals itself behind its emblematic monuments such as the Château d’If, Les Docks, the Palais de la Bourse, the Fort Saint Jean fortification, Notre-Dame de la Garde, the Palais Longchamp, the Marseille Cathedral of la Major to name just a few.
European Capital of Culture in 2013, Marseille aims to be a destination of choice for art and culture enthusiasts. Still in 2013, Marseille inaugurated the MuCEM, a museum dedicated to the Mediterranean civilizations of the 21st century. It is today one of the most visited museums. In the historic center of the city, you can also go to La Vieille Charité. There, you will find many cultural structures: the Mediterranean archaeology museum, the African, Oceanic and Native American art museum (MAAOA), but also a cinema, a bookshop…
While exploring the city, alone or with a guide, immerse yourself in the local culture and discover the traditions of Marseille. Relax on the terrace of a restaurant, under the southern sun, to taste Marseille’s cuisine. Let yourself be tempted by the bouillabaisse, a fish specialty, or by the pieds paquets, the panisses, etc. If you were to bring back only one souvenir of Marseille, no doubt you would choose the famous soap. Particularly effective and renowned, it can be used to clean skin, hair, clothes, floors, walls… Ideally located, the Bouches-du-Rhône prefecture, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, is a starting point for various tourist destinations accessible by train, plane and boat.
Notre-Dame de la Garde
Notre-Dame de la Garde, more commonly called “Bonne Mère” by the people of Marseille, watches over the sailors and fishermen. Overlooking the city from the top of its hill, it offers a remarkable view. The basilica is an old observation post, and François I built a fort there to defend the city. It was only after a few years that it would become a true place of pilgrimage when Eugène de Mazenod (Bishop of Marseille) commissioned the great basilica. A true symbol of Marseille, the Basilica Notre-Dame de la Garde is visible throughout the city. The site is the most visited monument of the city and has been listed since 1917.
The Palais Longchamp
Located in the 4th arrondissement of Marseille, the Palais Longchamp is a water tower made up of a garden and two museums. The building was built by the architect Henry Espérandieu, who also designed the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica, to store drinking water coming from the Durance River. Several artists participated in the beautification of the park with the creation of sculptures and a fountain. A visit to the Palais Longchamp is an opportunity to discover the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of fine arts), the oldest museum in Marseille, which preserves paintings and drawings dating from the 16th to the 19th century. You can also stop at the Natural History Museum of Marseille, which has cabinets of curiosities dating from the 18th century.
The Calanques National Park
The Calanques National Park is known throughout the world for its breathtaking scenery. Surrounded by cliffs, sea, fauna and flora, nature lovers will never get tired of it. Hiking, diving, canoeing and kayaking… On land, on the sea or underwater, different activities allow you to discover the Calanques. Once deserved, the rocky inlets reveal themselves to you with idyllic coves such as Port Pin, En-Vau, Sugiton, Morgiou or Sormiou.
La Canebière, the famous high street of the old quarter, connects the Old Port of Marseille to the Église Saint-Vincent-de-Paul church (Les Réformés). It was a true symbol of elegance with its chic hotels, department stores and posh cafés. Performance venues such as theaters were later set up there as well as the santons fair, part of the Christmas tradition. Nearly 1 km long, La Canebière is a lively district where you can find many shops, cafés, restaurants, the old Hôtel Louvre et Paix, the Monument des Mobiles… La Canebière is a parade route when demonstrations that go down to the Town Hall or the Prefecture are held, or when the French National Day and the carnival are celebrated.
A real open-air museum, the mythical and picturesque Panier district can be discovered through its narrow streets. The district resembles a small village in Provence where it is good to live. Colorful facades, street art, shops of craftsmen and designers… a visit to Le Panier is a must during your holidays in Marseille. For a gourmet break, sit on the terrace in Place de Lenche and admire the view of the Old Port.
- Tourist Office of Marseille: http://www.marseille-tourisme.com/fr/
- Road service: A7-A51 Highways (from Aix or Lyon), A55 Highway (from Aix, Fos, Lyon, Montpellier or Barcelona) and A50 Highway (from Cassis, Toulon, Nice, Genoa)
- Air access: Marseille Provence Airport
- Railroad access: Saint-Charles station
- Sea access: autonomous port