Hello everyone and welcome back dear travelers, ready for a new adventure to discover another great French city? Well, today we are headed to Marseille. First of all, as always, off with the presentation!
Marseille is the largest city in southern France, the capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region and has the first port in France. The city was founded by the greeks during antiquity and is one of the oldest French cities, it is only second to Paris for the number of inhabitants. Furthermore, Marseille was the European capital of culture in 2013 and of many events. It is divided into 16 municipal arrondissements. Education, economy and culture are at the center of everything and always very dynamic sectors.
From this short presentation we can understand the amount of things to do and see in Marseille, so let’s start this other magnificent adventure, come on!
To know more (what to eat, where to eat, where to have fun, things to visit…) continue to read.
Is Marseille the capital of culture or isn’t it ?! So, we have lots to admire!
PLACES TO VISIT (MUSEUMS/THEATERS…)
Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde
- Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde: is one of the most important places of worship in Marseille located at the highest point of the city, on a small hill. Let’s start by saying that the view from there is amazing, breathtaing. Anyway, to reach the entrance of the cathedral you have to go up the long staircase where above stands a high bell tower where a statue of the Virgin and Child is located at the top. It must be said that the building is truly majestic, as is its interior in which gold and bronze colors and various valuables predominate.
- Cathédrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure: is a neo-Byzantine style Catholic cathedral. The structure is very large and consists of a beautiful dome, the interior also has its beauty. In addition, the cathedral is located near the sea, which makes it even more beautiful.
- Basilique St-Victor: it is a stone abbey made up of some towers that almost bring to mind a medieval castle. It is a very suggestive place thanks to the low light and its being gloomy, and plus thanks the various crypts present.
- Château d’If: well, this castle is located in the middle of the waters. It is located on a small island of the Frioul archipelago, in the Gulf of Marseille. The castle was previously a prison and became famous in particular thanks to the novel “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas. Obviously these are remains, a fortification, (don’t expect a fairytale castle) that can be seen inside. The castle can be reached by boat. Very nice to know its history but also to be totally surrounded by the water and to see the city in the distance.
- Palais Longchamp: is a palace located in the fourth arrondissement of Marseille and is home to two museums that are accessible on both sides of the building (one has the entrance from the right side and the other from the left side). The museums we are talking about are the Marseille Fine Arts Museum and the Natural History Museum. It is a huge colonnaded building, enclosed by a gate, at the entrance you will find a fountain, stairs, lots of greenery around and several statues. An unusual palace of great beauty. Behind this magnificent structure we find the Parc Longchamp.
- Fort Saint-Jean: it is a fortification located at the entrance of the Vieux Port. The structure offers various spaces and opportunities for breathtaking views (such as a visit to the highest tower to enjoy the excellent view). The fortress also hosts many beautiful works of art as it consists of various exhibition rooms, an auditorium and a library. There is also a large space to walk around the fortress surrounded by the sea and many beautiful sculptures, such as the various layers of reticulated concrete that let the light through creating a magnificent shadow effect. Wonderful is the iron walkway that connects the building to the mucem (Museum of European and Mediterranean civilizations, which received the 2015 European Museum of the Year award). In the end on the terrace there is a restaurant.
Fort Saint-Nicolas is another fortification located just on the opposite side from that of Fort Saint-Jean; it is also classified as a historical monument of France.
- Vieille Charité: former house of hospitality, now a museum and cultural center, located in the heart of the old Panier district of Marseille. Its style is Baroque and includes four series of galleries and temporary exhibitions spread over three floors. The structure has inside, in the courtyard, another structure, very similar to a temple with a dome. There is also a small café. Very characteristic.
- Musee d’Histoire de Marseille: historical and archaeological museum of Marseille (one of the first history museums in France). The external structure is very particular, you can breathe this mix between ancient and modern (as well as its interior). Anyway, the museum is well organized and there are many multimedia tools. It currently contains permanent exhibitions, including: the most famous, the hull of a ship from the 2nd century, then, everything related to prehistory, Christianity and much more. Without forgetting that next to the museum there is a very special famous shopping center. In addition to the various shops, on the ground floor the center hosts some Greek and Roman historical artifacts that belong, in fact, to the Musee d’Histoire de Marseille. Behind the shopping center is the Jardin des Vestiges, where there are several archaeological remains.
- La Friche de la Belle de Mai: is a former tobacco factory located near the Saint-Charles station in Marseille, today converted into a large cultural complex and for the most part in an open space (although the complex also includes a building that houses a restaurant, library, shops, spaces dedicated to skates…) on a terrace. It hosts dozens of works by international artists, therefore, there is a lot of culture but also much more. It is a place of entertainment (includes theater, dance, music) and broadcasting (such as radios). In addition, the place has hosted concerts, electronic music festivals several times. An urban beauty to be included on the list.
- Musée Regards de Provence: is a museum dedicated to the art of Provence. Its collection is made up of works of art from the modern era to today, brought together to promote the artistic and cultural heritage of Marseille, Provence and the Mediterranean. Particular is its external structure that recalls a boat. There is also a small bar inside.
- Musée du Savon de Marseille La Licorne: you cannot go to Marseille and not visit the soap museum (did you know that this is the home of the very famous Marseille soap, just as the name indicates?). This museum will bring you to the knowledge of history, the craection through the vision of the means in which the perfumed soaps are made. In addition you will have a bar of soap for free and if you want you can create your own soap by customizing, using the ingredients you like best. Such a beauty!
- Musee Grobet-Labadie: is a museum housed in a 19th century hotel owned by an important family. So it is a visit to a former noble palace, therefore with all the collections and furniture typical of Marseille in ancient times. It is always nice to be able to try to understand something more about what was the everyday life of the past.
- Unité d’Habitation: if you remember we have already seen it in Nantes, it is a residential complex of urban architecture also created by the Swiss Le Corbusier. We will not say much about it, as we have already spoken extensively but if you missed it we will give you a brief summary. It is a gigantic 12-story concrete building and houses 337 apartments, a kindergarten, a rooftop swimming pool, shops and a contemporary art center. In addition, the building obtained UNESCO protection in 2016.
- Palais de la Bourse: it is a very important building as it houses the chamber of commerce and industry of Marseille-Provence, as well as the museum of the navy and economy. A great cultural mix to not be missed!
Among the theaters in the city we find: La Criée Theater, Théâtre du Gymnase, Le Dôme de Marseille, Théâtre Mazenod.
Vallon des Auffes
And we continue no stop to discover… well, we just have to see it now!
- Let’s start by saying that here in Marseille you can go hiking until you want. There is truly a world to explore. Now we will list many of the places where you can do it (they are all so beautiful and with wonderful views that we leave the selection to you with the final choice): Calanque de Morgiou, Calanque de Sormiou, Calanque d’En-Vau, Calanque de Port-Miou, Calanque de Sugiton, Port-Pin, Plages du Prado, Corniche des Crêtes, Les Calanques, Pomègues, Huveaune, Mont Puget, Escale Borély, Calanque du Devenson, Massif des Calanques (national park). But let’s not forget the islands and beaches too: Frioul Archipelago, Ratonneau, Plage de la Pointé Rouge, Plage de la Pointé Rouge, Calanque de Marseilleveyre, île de Planier (includes a lighthouse), Plage de l’Huveaune, île Maïre, Plage du Prophète, île de l’Érevine, Plage du Prado.
- Parc Borely: is a municipal public park consisting of three different gardens (both in French and English style). It is a very large area (immense we can say) that houses a museum, wooded paths, waterways, fountains, particular statues and local fauna. We also add that it is located near the famous Prado beach.
- Ledge of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy (called La Corniche by the locals): it is a passage that runs along the Mediterranean Sea and along the road we find several hotels, restaurants and fishermen’s houses. Home to some cinematographic scenes, it has a bench 3 km long on one of the two sides facing the sea (so great!). This runs through the passage almost without interruption, making it the longest bench in the world. Wow!
- Vieux Port: the old port is now a tourist port located in the center of the city of Marseille. While the maritime activities are transferred to the larger Grand sea port of Marseille. The promenade is quite long and is perfect for a healthy walk by the sea. On the sides there are souvenir shops and some that sell typical products of the area but at the same time several bars and restaurants. In the central part there is a very fun mirror structure in which you can look at yourself, and it is Ombrière de Norman Foster. Very suggestive!
- Parc du 26e Centenaire: are private gardens in French and Italian style from the 18th century. The garden is adorned with several statutes and a fountain. So much is its value and beauty that it is classified by the French Ministry of Culture as “Remarkable Gardens of France”.
- Jardins d’Albertas: are private gardens in French and Italian style from the 18th century. The garden is adorned with several statutes and a fountain. So much is its value and beauty that it is classified by the French Ministry of Culture as “Remarkable Gardens of France”.
- Now let’s see what else we can visit around the city: Canebière is the main road that crosses the historic center of Marseille. The road takes its name from the Provençal canabe or canebe, as in the past it connected the port with the fields of hemp which was then used for the production of some objects. Vallon des Auffes is a quaint fishing port that has small colorful houses where local fishermen live. The port is quite small and full of boats (very nice to photograph) and is located between the Catalan beach and the bay of Malmousque. The place takes its name from “auffe” or “alfa” which is a kind of grass used to make ropes, braids and fishing nets. Another very characteristic port is Estaque. Cours Julien is a beautiful urban neighborhood where you can breathe the city in all respects thanks to the local artists who leave their mark through their graffiti (very particular and the colorful staircase). The neighborhood in addition to shops and clubs also has a small square. Place Castellane with its great statue located in the center of the square and its streets surrounding it. Then you will surely come across the Porte d’Aix (also known as Porte Royale) an arch of triumph that marks the old entry point of the city on the road to Aix-en-Provence. Avenue du Prado is a long tree-lined avenue located in the sixth and eighth arrondissements of Marseille. Perfect for a relaxing and suggestive walk.
In addition, for those who want to get around the city comfortably seated, there are two options, Colorbüs Marseille and Les Petits Trains de Marseille, the choice is yours. Le Panier the oldest district of Marseille, a symbol of various ethnic groups. You have to get lost and admire its narrow alleys and its countless craft shops.
- For shopping, well, the choice is so wide: rue Paradis, Saint Férreol, rue de Rome (for something less expensive), Cours Julien (for a bohemian style). For another type of “shopping”, in the Plaine district you can take part to the market which is usually held on weekends.
- And again, there are the Santons boutiques to visit. Marseille is also famous for the art of nativity scenes. In the Panier district there are many boutiques and craft workshops that are dedicated to the creation of these terracotta statuettes that can represent both simple villagers and illustrious characters. Wonderful! The surroundings of Marseille are also beautiful, an example are the Pays d’Aix, beautiful Provencal landscapes. If you have time left, don’t miss what’s around!
Calanque de Sormiou
Nightlife in Marseille is absolutely lively. It is a perfect city where to spend some hours full of fun and entertainment, especially in the Porto Vecchio area, with lots of clubs and jazz clubs.
To see the different clubs in detail, here are some:
- Yamzz Club: night club
- Le Diamant Noir Club: night club
- The New Cancan: night club
- DANCETERIA: night club
- Pelle-Mêle: a place specializing in cocktails
- Le Taxi Brousse: disco
It’s time to eat, it’s time for typical dishes!
- Marseillaise mussels: their specialty is that they are seasoned with tomato.
- Paninesses fris: it is a traditional preparation very similar to polenta. The chickpea flour is mixed with water and cooked until it thickens. Then it is left to cool and fried in olive oil, and then served hot. Goodness!
- Daube: this is a generally winter dish based on beef that is slowly braised in red wine, then are added garlic, some aromatic herbs and vegetables. The dish is cooked for a long time and left to rest. This is usually served in earthenware bowls. Dishes of this kind are accompanied by vegetables, which however often also serve as a single dish, such as zucchini, peppers and aubergines. This side dish (or single dish and in this case is accompanied by potatoes or rice) is called Ratatouille; vegetables cooked in a pan and flavored with thyme, basil and other aromatic herbs.
- Navette: typical Marseillais dessert is a biscuit in the shape of a small boat. The ingredients are simple but its fragrant pasta makes this dessert a real delicacy. Also great as a souvenir to take home or give to friends and family.
- Loukoum: they are sweets, candies to be specific, of flavored pastry and powdered sugar with a typically Middle Eastern flavor. Why this “foreign” note in France? Well, the city had close contacts with the Arab culture which has left some of its presence in these areas.
WHERE TO EAT (RESTAURANTS/CAFE’…)
Eh the list is long, let’s see some.
- L’infusion: French, European cuisine.
- La Cantine de Lynn: French cuisine.
- La Delicatesse: French cuisine.
- Restaurant L’Inattendu: French, European cuisine, gluten-free menu options.
- Lacaille Restaurant: French, Mediterranean, European cuisine.
- Grand Bar des Goudes: French, Mediterranean cuisine.
- Bistrot o’prado: French, Mediterranean, European cuisine.
- Le Hippie Chic café: French cuisine, vegan options.
- La Grivoise: French cuisine, vegetarian.
- Le Refuge: French, Mediterranean, European cuisine.
So we conclude our trip to Marseille while the one around France continues. Keep following us and guess what will be our next destination.
Let us know your opinions about this place. If you liked it or not, if you’ve been there or you’re going to go there? What you liked the most or least? We’re curious to read your opinions.
A big kiss to everyone.
Below we will list the accommodations that you can find in Marseille.