Discover Marseille – The Pre-Eminent Port And The Oldest City In France

With a population of 1,604,000 as of 2007, Marseille is the second-largest city in France and number one port. Marseille takes pride in its uniqueness and diversity. Indeed it is not like the rest of France; being the major gateway from Africa, it has a Mediterranean flavor that may remind you more of Africa than Europe.

Marseille is by far the oldest city in France, dating back 2500 years. Its rough and tumble history is still evident today. Many travelers may consider Marseille to be a bit of a dirty and rough place, but at the same time it may also be seen as a colorful, exciting city. Marseille has recently been upgrading and smartening its image after decades of decay and decline. A newly completed train link to Paris is a big boost for the city, and many buildings are being renovated.

Known as a port city of the Mediterranean, Marseille is a great place to visit if you are looking for a French town with a diverse and unique culture.


Places You Should Go To In Marseille:


The Old Port

The Old Port is the main harbor and marina of the city, one of the best things to do in Marseille. Fort St. Nicholas and Fort St. Jean are two massive forts that guard this section of the city. At the end of the harbor is the site of the daily fish market. Also lining the waterfront are dozens of cafés and restaurants, as this area is one of the main places to eat in the city.


Marseille Shopping

Marseille offers great shopping opportunity for visitors. You can miss anything, but don’t miss to roam in Marseille city centre and do lots of shopping for your family and kids. You will find several and different variety of market in Marseille. The rue Paradis, rue Saint Ferrol and rue de Rome, run off the Canebire, just to the north of the Office du Tourisme are the best shopping areas in this charming city. If you are moving near by the underground car park, then look at the upper side and you will find Centre Bourse shopping mall.

The Central Bourse and the adjacent Rue St. Ferreol District is the main shopping district in Marseille. Also in the Central Bourse is the Marseille Historical Museum, which contains a preserved hull of a sixth century boat as well as Greek and Roman historical artifacts and records. Other noteworthy museums include The Musee Cantini, which features art work associated with Marseille as well as modern Art and includes some Picassos. The Musee de la Mode is a modern fashion museum featuring over 2000 designs covering the past 30 years or so. Please don’t miss to make visit to the fish market nearby Veiux Port.


Marseille Nightlife

There are lots of places in Marseille, where you can hangout with your friends and family. There is no dearth of the entertainment places in this charming city. Marseille is also popular for festivals and Marseille Carnival, Marseille International Documentary Film Festival and The Festival of Wind are some of the best festival celebrated over there. Le New Cancan, Maxi club, Le New Palace and I’exit Bar are some of the popular bars and clubs in this city. Vieux-port in this city is also famous for happening nightlife.


Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde

Marseille’s best known landmark is the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde, which stands on a hill high above the city to the south of the port. It is famous for the massive gilded statue of the Madonna and Child which can be seen for miles out to sea.

This basilica was built somewhere between 1853 to 1864 and it has colored marbles, complicated gold-laid mosaics and murals. Its bell tower is crowned by a 9.7m tall glided statue of Virgin Mary, which is on a 12 meters high pedestal. Bullet marks and many scars on the cathedral’s northern façade mark the brutal fighting that would have taken place here during Marseille’s Battle of Liberation, which is believed to be between 15-25 August 1944).


Le Painer Section

Also worth visiting is the Le Painer section, which features narrow stone streets and stairways. This area was dynamited heavily by the Nazis seeking to rid the area of resistance fighters and Jews. Much of the spirit and energy of the region has survived however, including the beautiful 17th-century Hotel De Ville.


Vieux Port

At the very heart of Marseille is the Vieux Port. This is a place where people go to find the best restaurants, high-end hotels, and the most happening clubs. You can do your shopping here, as well, and don’t forget to buy one mini French flag to take with you home.


Calanques Marseille-Cassis

This place in Marseille is the best place to visit if you are from a foreign country and just a few miles away from Marseille. It is a small piece of Mediterranean landscape: turquoise, translucent water lapping the sheer cliffs of the indented coast, interrupted every now and then by a small idyllic beach. Very soon, the Calanques will be turned into a national park by this yea and you can enjoy the beauty of the hidden secrets of the beaches. You can take a boat trip from a small village near Cassis and enjoy the lunch from the port-side restaurants.



For over 26 centuries, sea ships have been docking at Marseille’s colorful Vieux Port. It is still overflows with fishing craft, yachts and local ferries. On the Vieux Port’s southern side, you will find many late night restaurants and the food available there is very good.


Arc de Triomphe de la Porte d’Aix

This monument was constructed in 1823 by Penchaud in the memory of the victories of the French Revolution and it is very famous all over the world. This is a must to see place in Marseille.


Galerie Jouvène

It is very old (approx150 years) and you can find the beautiful apparel of old and classical paintings, which are the representations of Provence from the 17the Century. It displays the work of Briata, Monticelli and Ambriogiani. You will simply love this place.


Fontaine Castellane

This is an amazing fountain, which is situated in the centre of the square and it is monumental fountain. The shape of this monumental fountain is given by a Marseillaise sculptor Allar in the year 1911 to describe the journey of the River Rhone from its source to the Mediterranean beautifully shown like the Rhone.


Musee de L’OM

People in Marseille say that Football is a way of their life, hence, not surprisingly, the city’s Olympique de Marseille team, which is over 100 years old, often unleashes real passion and entertainment. In the Vélodrome Stadium, this small museum tell you the history of Marseilles’ legendary team, which starts with their early successes in the French Cup to their competitors in the European Cup.



Take a tour of the various museums found on the Centre de la Vieille Charité located along rue de la Charitée. Built in the 17th century, this place houses art from the ancient Greek and Egypt, as well as pieces from the American, Oceanic, and African tribes.

Make sure to visit the restaurants in Marseille and taste their signature dish of bouillabaisse. Most restaurants will be pricey, but it is worth the expense, as the best and freshest ingredients from the sea are used.


Things To Do In Marseille

Standing as a tribute to multicultural revolution and blessed with an enticing Mediterranean climate, Marseille is one of Europe’s most exciting metropolises. The cascading hills and the beautiful limestone rocks provide the city a befitting backdrop; equally enthralling are the backstreets of the town centre, the Vieux-Port, a harbour with some 2,600 years of history and the neighbourhoods such as Le Panier and Belsunce with lanes perfect for exploration on foot or by bike. There are several cultural and historic sites and diverting museums to be explored. Here are just some of the things that you can do in Marseille.

Diving – Given that there is abundance of water, there are plenty of marine activities including diving. Accompanied by a state-qualified instructor, you can explore the ocean bed of the Calanques. The best months for diving are June to September.

Sailing – The coastal region of Marseille is one of the most scenic in France. There is no better way to take in the spectacular views than by sailing off in a boat. You will pass by some of the most celebrated beaches of the south of France, the craggy cliffs and the quiet bays of the Iles de Frioul. You can charter a yacht, however, be aware that this could be a bit expensive.

Cycling – Ever since its launch, Marseille’s bike-hire scheme has proved to be very popular with the visitors. You can hire a bike and weave your way through the picturesque urban pockets and then go further to take in the beautiful views of the coastal road. You would need to provide your credit card details to hire a bike.

Fishing – You can take advantage of dedicated excursions on offer that provide full equipment. The trips depart from the Vieux Port. You can browse through the outdoor market and get an idea of the kind of fish you can expect to catch.

Cooking lessons – While in Marseilles, you can try your hand at some authentic French dishes. There are many cooking classes on offer – you can check out the most famous of them all – the Miramar restaurant on the Vieux Port. The head chefs here will take you through the step-by-step preparation of preparing food to restaurant standard.

Skating – The beachside bowl located just off Plage Vielle Chapelle has been drawing skaters for more than 20 years now. The Marseille skate park enjoys a great reputation among the skating community and if you don’t want to actively participate, you can simply enjoy watching the sanity-defying flips.


Marseille Airport


Marseille – MRS

Marseille is the so called “Second City” of France and naturally has one of the busiest airports in France. MArseille airport is actually the third largest airport in France after Paris and is one of only a few Provincial airports that have two runways. You can fly from Marseille to many destinations all over the world rather than being limited to just a few international routes.


Marseille Airport Car Hire

If you’re flying into Marseille airport and are going to be hiring a car then don’t worry. All the big names are well represented at Marseille such as Hertz, Budget, Avis etc. The car hire desks can be found in the main terminal in Hall 4.

It’s a good idea to pre-book your car hire online and after several years of experience of hiring cars it’s well worth reading our detailed car hire pages on our website to find out how to get the best deals.


Marseille Airport Arrivals

One of the interesting things about Marseille airport for those flying from the UK and Ireland is that Marseille was the first airport in europe to offer a dedicated “Low cost” airline terminal. MP2 as it’s known is only small and is pretty basic but does the job well enough. After all, if we’re paying 50EUR for a return flight from the UK we shouldn’t really have much to complain about. If you’re meeting a flight from Marseille then my website will give you live flight arrival information that you will find very useful. Particulary if the flight you are meeting has been delayed.


Marseille Airport Taxis

The main taxi rank at Marseille is just outside Hall 2 which is a bit of a walk from the MP2 terminal so if you have lots of luggage, elderly companions or small children it’s worth sending one person off to grab a taxi and leave the others at MP2.


Marseille Airport Bars and Restaurants

Choice in MP2 is pretty limited I’m afraid. You’ve got two small cafes in the public area of the terminal building and a slightly broader choice up on the first floor once you go through passport control. The usual selection of sandwiches, croissants, teas and coffees are to be found upstairs but it’s pretty pricey as you’d expect so might be worth making yourself a few sarnies at home before you set off. don’t forget the limitations on taking drinks through passport control though.


In conclusion, the French port of Marseille boasts a number of attributes which attract holidaymakers every year. As this article has already explained, these include culture, history and art, all of which can be found around each corner, which means that you are sure to have an interesting holiday. Why not see for yourself this year? Enjoy your vacation!

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