France’s second city is a bustling seaside metropolis composed of bustling dockside marketplaces, sunny relaxing squares and the magnificent architecture befitting France’s most important historic trading port. Marseille is the capital of the Côte d'Azur region, an area known for its extravagant luxury and home to some of Europe’s most beautiful beaches: Perfect for a city that boasts 300 days of sunshine a year.
Top 50 Apartments in Marseille
Welcome to Marseille
Marseille remains France’s largest port city, with more than 100 million tonnes of cargo passing through each year. The city was named a European Capital of Culture for the year 2013.
- Founded in the year 600 BC, Marseille is the oldest city in France.
- The largest suburban park, Calanques, is located in Marseille, taking up 20km of the Mediterranean coastline.
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Where to Stay
Similar to Paris and other French cities, Marseille is divided into numbered districts known ‘arrondissements’. Many visitors flock to the Old Port area, which has some fantastic accommodation options and is one of the most beautiful parts of the city, with waterfront restaurants, beautiful architecture and a relaxed atmosphere. Further along the seafront to the north, the more modern district of Joliette is a beautiful place to stay, with great sea views and museums, galleries and more everywhere you turn. Further back from the seafront, in the 7th arrondissement, the area around the hill upon the Notre Dame Basilica stands offers some fantastic places to stay, with peaceful squares and cafes to relax in. Cours de Julien is a more lively area, removed from the throngs of tourists while still within walking distance of the top sights in the historic centre and Old Port.
Things to Do
A city as old as Marseille is of course brimming with incredible buildings, each of which has its own story to tell. The most important of these is undoubtedly the Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica, which stands majestically at Marseille’s highest point. Take the bus or the mini-train up, or walk if you’re feeling fit, and admire the Basilica’s grand interior, as well as an uninterrupted view of Marseille and the bay upon which it sits. Don’t miss out on the Château d'If, a foreboding island out in the bay where a 16th Century fortress that was used as a prison for hundreds of years, still stands. If you’ve had your fill of the city sights, Parc Borely is a short bus ride away, a beautiful tree filled park that leads on to a sandy beach with crystal blue water, perfect for swimming.
Eating and Drinking
Marseille is not quite as well known for its luxury as its neighbours in Cannes or St. Tropez; but there is plenty here to satisfy high end tastes. Bouillabaisse is one of the most famous local dishes: a two course meal consisting of fish soup followed by the fish that made the soup. If you’re feeling particularly brave order ‘Pieds et Paquets’ - a dish consisting of sheeps feet and internal organs. Being in the south of France, there is of course a fantastic selection of wines on offer. Another popular local drink is Pastis, an aniseed flavoured liqueur usually served alongside a glass of water. The best (and most expensive) restaurants area centred around the Old Port. If you feel like cooking for yourself, there is a daily fresh fish market on La Vieux Port and an excellent organic food market located on the hillside below Notre Dame.
Marseille has a well organised public transport system: Metro, trams and buses all use the same ticketing system. Single tickets are valid for one hour - remember to stamp your ticket before boarding. The city also has a city bike scheme, for which you can register at any of the stations and take a bike for a ride. Remember, if it’s not returned by midnight you’ll be charged for the whole night. Marseille has a small airport with flights available to a good selection of European destinations, as well as a train station: the express train reaches Paris in just 3 hours. Marseille also has a frequent ferry service over to Sardinia and, during the summer months, a boat over to the small villages L’estaque and Pointe Rouge. Taxis are widely available in the city, although they will be considerably more expensive than public transport.
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