Visiting Marseille - What to See and Do
(Marseille Provence Airport MRS, France)
is blessed with a phenomenal climate for most of the year. However, it is more than this that makes the city a wondrous place to holiday. Marseille's diversity and fine array of attractions make it an entertaining and relaxing destination for domestic and international tourists alike.
The city is the most populated and busiest port along the French Mediterranean coast. Boasting an intriguing history, Marseille has one of France's most ethnically diverse populations, along with a variety of culture. Attractions around the Fourviere Hill district, like the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Roman ruins, are outstanding examples of what is in store for tourists. Then there is the Longchamp Palace and the many museums that dot the city.
Nightlife in Marseille is fascinating and entertaining to say the least. Tourists will be able to enjoy a lively night out, certainly with the African influence in this city, but be wary of the expensive upscale bars if you are on a budget. Major cultural events are held annually, including the riveting Marsatac Music Festival and Le Fete Bleue.
Ten things you must do in Marseille
- One of the first places to visit in Marseille is the Vieux Port, which is otherwise known as the Old Harbour. There are still regular fishing markets found at the port, and ships have been anchoring here for some 26 centuries. The area is squeezed between several major forts, including Fort St. Jean and Fort St. Nicolas.
- The Notre Dame de la Garde sits atop the city, watching over it like a nurturing mother since the mid-1800s. Interestingly, the facade is covered in ornamented marble and stunning maritime-themed mosaics. It is possible for tourists to access this mammoth basilica by bus from the harbour or via train.
- Not far from the Old Harbour, at the Place Vivaux, is a tremendous site that will enthrall history enthusiasts. It is called the Musée des Docks and contains evidence of Marseille's ancient port from Phoenician times. Roman structures are found throughout the area, including enormous jars that once held thousands of litres of oil and wine.
- One of the city's most renowned structures is the Unite d'Habitation. This massive building was first constructed in 1952 as the ultimate in urban living. It contains a supermarket, an exciting rooftop garden with stunning views of Marseille, a bookshop on architecture and a hotel that is more renowned for its significance with yesteryear ambience, than its actual comforts.
- From the city's port, tourists can reach one of history's most renowned prisons. The Chateau d'If is a small island castle some 3 km / 2 miles off the coast of Marseille. The chateau was made famous through the novel the 'Count of Monte Cristo', and can be toured via boat trips from the Old Harbour.
- Le Panier is a popular district of the city, just a short distance from the Old Harbour. This site was a bustling marketplace years ago, which is where the name Le Panier or 'the basket' came from. Today, artisans dominate the district. A walk through the wondrous lanes of this quarter will not disappoint.
- For a taste of Old Marseille, visit the remarkable Vieil Aix, one of the most historically vibrant districts of the city. Some of the reputable sites within this district include the Fontaine d'Eau Thermale and Jourdan Park. Tourists mustn't pass up the opportunity to experience the fascinating café culture in the quarter either.
- Despite living in the shadow of the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Basilica St. Victor is another of Marseille's beautiful religious structures. The church was constructed in the 5th century, although a crypt beneath the church existed long before this. Tourists can explore this semi-fortified building, along with its crypt, between 09:00 and 19:00 every day.
- The Museum of History is an intriguing reminder of the city's yesteryear. This museum is to be found close to the Vieux Port and boasts live excavations of the ancient settlement of Massalia. There is even a Roman shipwreck found onsite. This attraction is ideal for families and entrance is free for children under ten years old.
- Of course, no trip to Marseille is complete without exploring the breathtaking Palais de Longchamp and its memorable avenue. Touring the palace is recommended, although it won't take an exorbitant amount of time. This means that visitors can relax upon the shaded green space near the palace, or take time checking out the Museum of Fine Arts, which is housed onsite.