Marseille, front door to Provence. Founded in 600 BC by the Greeks from Phocaea, Marseille is the oldest city in France and the second largest after Paris.
The city is home to almost 900,000 people living in its 16 districts, most of which have held onto their authentic village atmosphere.
Marseille has much to offer to its locals and tourists: an incredible coastline, a harbor that turns foreign sailors green with envy and 300 days of sunshine every year!
Marseille has an impressive natural heritage with numerous lush parks in the heart of the city, offering refreshing havens when the sun is beating down. Just a few kilometres from the Vieux-Port lies the Calanques National Park, which is the perfect spot for year-round outdoor activities. The famous Calanques cover 20 kilometres with untamed creeks to explore and clear blue water to enjoy.
A dozen museums exhibit a wide variety of collections from antiquity to modern art, and several galleries display the work of famous artists and rising stars. Marseille was theEuropean Capital of Culture in 2013 and the schedule promises to have a variety of entertainment all year long. The city and region will host over 400 events, including performances, street art, exhibitions, theatre, literary debates, and Mediterranean cooking.
As you stroll around this Mediterranean city you will see its impressive heritage for yourself. Marseille is brimming with hidden gems from the old town of Panier to the Second Empire buildings and the Roman churches.
Marseille is now also known for its economic projects, particularly with the Euroméditerranée project, which has seen major architects such as Zaha Hadid, Kengo Kuma and Stefano Boeri redesign the city. The Vieux-Port has been fully reworked by the architects at Norman Foster. This fantastic location will be pedestrianised to restore it to its former glory in Marseille.
So, are you ready for a trip back in time?
Must-Sees in Marseille
- Admire the panoramic view from Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde
- Discover the small fishing ports, the creeks, the If Castle and the archipelago of Frioul
- Stroll by the markets of Marseille
- Sip a pastis at sunset on the Vieux-Port
- See an exhibition in the Vieille Charité Museum and have a walk in the « Panier » district
- Watch a game at the Velodrome Stadium
- Jog on the Corniche
- Try out the local gastronomic specialities such as the fish soup (bouillabaisse)
Festivals and Events in Marseille
March: World Water Forum, Massilia Mono Cup and Massilia IRC Sailing Race, Marseille’s Marathon, Marseille’s Carnaval
April: Mediterranean Sea International Nautical week, Jeanty Women's Foil Fencing World Cup Grand Prix FIE Challenge
May: Festival of sacred music
June: La fête bleue, Les Voiles du Vieux Port Sailing Race, Open GDF Suez of Marseille, AudiMed Cup, Festival of Marseille
July: Festival of Jazz from the five Continents, Biking Tour de France stopover (to be confirmed)
September: September at Sea, Art-O-Rama international Contemporary Art exhibit, Juris’ Cup Sailing Race
October: Fiesta des Suds, Marsatac Festival (Music), Antiques and Art galleries fair of Marseille, Marseille-Cassis Semi-Marathon
November: World Festival of underwater pictures
December: Christmas crib figures and Christmas markets
The friendly atmosphere is the main flavour of meals here in Marseille where the typical daily fare includes olive oil and garlic.
At the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Marseille is no stranger to foreign cuisine and has even adopted some recipes as its own.
The result? Spicy dishes with a sunny touch, not to mention fish, shellfish and other seafood delicacies that make up the local fare.
A few suggestions for foodies:
In Marseille, the culinary traditions are numerous. First of all, there's the famous bouillabaisse: the most reknown fish speciality in the world, which is closely linked to the image of Marseille.
Other local specialties include pasta with pisto, seafood, rice with favouilles, Provencal Stew, pied paquets, garlic mayonnaise, tapenade, anchovy paste, stuffed vegetables, stuffed squids, panisses, fuss freggi, rockfish soup, and of course lots of various fishes.
At Christmas time, you can enjoy ancestral culinary traditions, such as " the large supper and the 13 desserts," and later, in February, you can try the navettes biscuits in celebration of Candlemas.
Getting to Marseille
- SNCF Train station (Gare Saint Charles): 3 hours from Paris (1 TGV every hour)
- Airport: Marseille-Provence (30 min from the city center, Air France shuttle every half hour, terminal MP2 low cost flights), Liaisons SNCF between Vitrolles Aéroport Marseille Provence Train Station and Marseille Saint-Charles (20 shuttles per day, 30 minutes fare)
- Autoroutes: A55, A7, A52 (765 km de Paris)
Office de Tourisme et des Congrès de Marseille
4, la Canebière
Tel 33 (0)826 500 500 (0.15€ par minute)
Fax33 (0)4 91 13 89 20