Many cultures have had a deep impact on Marseille, and the city bears its rich history proudly. A contemporary city with a Mediterranean temperament, Marseille will transport and enthral you. Here are some tips to help you explore its treasures.
Marseille – Commanding views
You can’t visit Marseille without discovering Notre Dame de la Garde church, known as “Good Mother” to the townsfolk. Admission is free. This iconic basilica dominates the city and protects its port. Admire the 360° view across the town, from the Calanques (rugged coves) to the marine harbour. It will give you a sense of the beauty of the city and its environment.
Another place, another view: at the entrance to Marseille harbour, visit the Fort Saint Jean and walk around this citadel. Explore the walkways and spiral staircases to seek out other viewing points. Climb to the top of Roy René tower and drink in the sight of the far-off blues and ochres and whites.
Marseille – Museum
The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations – MuCEM – is the first museum of the cultures of the Mediterranean. At the entrance to the Vieux Port (Old Port), you can’t miss it. What’s free: permanent and temporary exhibitions on the first Sunday of every month, outside spaces and the gardens during museum opening hours. A space full of poetry.
Marseille – Unrestricted
As you stroll around the little streets of Marseille, especially the Panier district, you appreciate their charm. You can do a walking tour one area at a time. While walking near the port, take time for a trip on the ferry, a solar-electric ship, across the cove of the old port.
For a themed visit, book a ‘greeter’. A greeter is a Marseille resident who tells you about the city and its lesser-known places, and gives you advice on getting around. Street art, football, the beauty of the islands, spicy things – what theme would you like?
Marseille – Crafts
You’ve heard of Marseille soap. Its reputation is built on its cleansing power. This traditional soap is recognisable by four characteristics: it is cube-shaped or brick-shaped; it is brown-green or white in colour; it carries its brand on all six sides; and it has no more than six ingredients. To learn the secrets of how this iconic Marseille product is made, head over to the Savonnerie Marseillaise de la Licorne for a free tour around the workshops.
Marseille – Sports
The Parc National des Calanques offers many hiking and trail-running paths and some excellent rock climbs. There is also an area especially for mountain biking. Combine the joy of sport with delightful scenery.
If you’re into jogging, the Prado beaches and Borély Park near the Youth Hostel are wonderful areas in which to keep fit.
Make the most of your stay: between land and sea, Marseille has a rich cultural diversity; a heritage it showed to good effect as European Capital of Culture 2013.
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