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Marseille is the second most populated city of France (and third urban area) the biggest mediterranean port and the economic center of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. In 2013 the city (with its region) is the European Capital of Culture, a large series of cultural events will take place, and several new infrastructures are being inaugurated. In 2013 Marseille will also host the EuroPride.
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Points of Interest in Marseille
- le Vieux Port (old harbour): watching fishermen selling their stock by auction is a must. Arriving to Marseille in the Vieux-Port on a summer evening is something you will never forget... You can watch this show by going to Frioul islands or Chateau d'If and going back late in the afternoon. there is also a nice view on the harbor from the Palais du Pharo (Pharo Palace). The famous Canebière avenue goes straight down the harbor. However the Canebière is not that interesting despite its reputation.
- Notre Dame de la Garde: the big church which overlooks the city. Old fishermen used to have their boats blessed in this church. You can still see many boat models hanging around in the church. From there it is one of the nicest view of the city. You can use the tourist train from the Vieux Port to reach the church - you can get off the train, look around and board a later train back to the port.
- Musée des Docks romains (Archéologie-Graffiti-Lapidaire) (the old harbour from Phoenician and Roman times), ☎ +33 4 91 91 24 62. Place Vivaux, 13002 Marseille.
- Musée d'Archéologie méditerranéenne (Archéologie-Graffiti-Lapidaire), Centre de la Vieille Charité, 2 Rue de la Charité, 13002 Marseille. Tel: 04 91 14 58 59, Fax : 04 91 14 58 76
- Musée des civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée or "MuCEM", a recently open museum ; the first Franch national museum outside of Paris. It has large permanent and temporary exhibitions. Its architecture mixes a very contemporary structure (a dark box) with an old castle, with footbridges linking the two parts of the museum.
- le Cours Julien and la plaine: a hangout area with bookstores, cafés, fountains, and a playground for the small ones (metro stop Cours Julien/Notre Dame du Mont). It is THE trendy area of Marseille. La Plaine is the local name for Place Jean Jaurès close to Cours Julien. Every Thursday and Saturday morning the Plaine market is the place to shop. If you are there early enough you can make very good deals, even if what you'll find there is sometimes "tombé du camion" (fallen off the truck) as one says in Marseille.
- la Corniche: a walkway and a road by the sea that provides lovely views of the sea, the Chateau d'If to the south, and les Calanques to the east.
- la Place Castellane: a roundabout with a grand fountain/column/sculpture in the center, with excellent cinemas and cafés surrounding. There is another place called La Castellane : it is a poor suburb of Marseille where Zinedine Zidane the famous football player was born. Be careful not to confuse the two places.
- Boulevard Longchamp and Palais Longchamp (Longchamp casttle and avenue). From the Réformé church (up the Canebière) you can follow the Boulevard Longchamp where you can see nice example of old upper-class buildings to arrive to Palais Longchamp. The palais is worth visiting though it won't take you long. You can visit the "musee des beaux arts" as well as the natural history museum.
- Parc Borély (Borely park). A large and great park, 300 meters from the sea. After a siesta in the park go have a drink at Escale Borely (a place with numerous restaurants and bars on the beach) to see the sunset.
- Le Panier. Panier means basket in French, but in Marseille it is the name of the oldest area of the town. In the middle of this area there is the Vielle Charité, a wonderful old monument, now hosting museums and exhibitions.
- Let's be honest, beaches in Marseille are not always great. Depending on the weather, they can be polluted. However the small beaches south of the city centre between La Pointe Rouge harbour and La Madrague harbour are cleaner, nicer and usually slightly less crowded. There are also good sandy beaches at L'Estaque - take bus 35 from Joliette metro/tram stop to the end of the line (20–25 minutes).
- Unité d'Habitation: designed by Le Corbusier. The building is called "la maison du fada" (the house of the foolish) by indegenous people. The building contains a shopping street, a church, a children's school and housing. You can access the roof and enjoy the breathtaking view of Marseille between hills and sea (10am-6pm). There is a bar/restaurant/hotel on the 3rd floor too. Take bus 21 from Rond-Point du Prado metro.
- Stade Velodrome: the stadium where the local football team "Olympique de Marseille" plays. Football matches are one of the highlights of Marseilles life. Whilst L'OM have fallen on rather lean times the former champions of Europe are the biggest football team in France. The atmosphere at the stadium is fantastic and whilst visitors are unlikely to get tickets for the popular Virage Nord or Sud seats in the Tribune Ganay offer an excellent view and a chance to soak up the atmosphere. Best games involve teams with some travelling support such as St Etienne, Lens or the grand-daddy match of them all against the evil Paris St Germain. Tickets can be bought (ideally several days before the game) either on-line or from the L'OM shop at the Vieux Port.
- Noailles: The area around the Noailles sub-way station is one of the city's most interesting. Lined with Arabic and Indo-Chinese shops some of the streets could be part of a bazzaar in Algeria. A fascinating area.
- Mazargues War Cemetery, On the way to Luminy. A war cemetery dedicated to WW I and WW II martyrs from the Allies, especially the Indian and Chinese gunners and runners. A very serene place, it is the perfect place to spend sometime thinking about the people who laid down their lives to give us the freedom we enjoy today.
Outside of town
- The Calanques. The Calanques are a series of miniature fjords to the south of Marseille near Cassis. From Marseille these are best accessed from the University campus at Luminy which can be reached by bus #21 departing from Rond Point du Prado opposite the Stade Velodrome or from Vieux Port (the bus fee is only 1,50 euros). The 'fjords' are amazing with wonderful blue sea and spectacular lime stone cliffs. The walk along the coast from Cassis to Marseille is spectacular, it can be done in one day at a fast pace. The trail (GR) is clearly marked (red and white strips). From Luminy, you can turn left to Cassis or right to Callelongue (a bus connects you to bus #19, which takes you back to Place Castellane in the center, or you can use also bus #21, 20, 23). From June to September some of the Calanques can be closed due to high risk of fire.
- The Château d'If The Château d'If is built small island off the city, initially as a defensive structure and was later used a prison. It is most famous for its place in the novel The Comte de Monte-Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Tourist boats leave from the Vieux Port.
- Allauch and Plan de Cuques are communes on the outskirts of Marseille, both blessed with beautiful countryside. You can take the metro (Line 1) to La Rose and then a bus #142, #144. Take a picnic and go for a walk in the hills, the views of Marseille and the Mediterranean are stunning.
- L'Estaque and côte bleue L'Estaque is fishing port that is just starting to exploit its tourist potential through its connections to Cézanne. You can get there on the #35 bus from La Joliette (to get to La Joliette take metro Line 2)
Marseille has a complex history. It was founded by the Phoceans (from the Greek city of Phocea) in 600 B.C. and is one of the oldest cities in Europe. The town is a far cry from the Cézanne paintings and Provençal clichés of sleepy villages, "pétanque" players and Marcel Pagnol novels. With around one million inhabitants, Marseille is the second largest city in France in terms of population and the largest in terms of area. Its population is a real melting pot of different cultures. It is also said that there are more Comorian people in Marseille than in Comoros! Indeed, the people of Marseille have varying ethnic backgrounds, with a lot of Italians and Spanish having immigrated to the area after the second world war.
For people not afraid to discover a real place with real people, Marseille is the place. From colourful markets (like Noailles market) that will make you feel like you are in Africa, to the Calanques (a natural area of big cliffs falling into the sea - Calanque means fjord), from the Panier area (the oldest place of the town and historically the place where newcomers installed) to the Vieux-Port (old harbor) and the Corniche (a road along the sea) Marseille has definitely a lot to offer.
Forget the Canebière, forget the "savon de Marseille" (Marseille soap), forget the clichés, and just have a ride from l'Estaque to Les Goudes. You will not forget it.
- . You can visit the fabulous restaurants and cafes. You can go and do many adventurous things such as diving and hiring boats! The calanques (fjords) between Marseille and La Ciotat are a very popular sports climbing area. And of course, if the weather is fine, you can simply go to the beach!
As European Capital of Culture 2013, Marseille is planning great cultural changes and events for the coming years. However, this does mean that many of the museums and galleries are currently closed for refurbishment (in 2012). So far, the main cultural events are:
- The festival Avec le Temps that occurs every spring at the Espace Julien (one of the main concerts halls in town) consists in many concerts of French artists, in many genre (Pop, Chanson, Rock, Folk...)
- La Fête Bleue, "the Blue Festival" at the end of June. A lot of shows (concerts, movie projections, exhibits...) occur in many places in the city, and the theme is the colour blue.
- La Fête du Panier, at the end of June. During two days, you will be able to see shows, concerts and markets in the oldest area of the town.
- Le FDAmM or Festival de Danse et des Arts Multiples de Marseille, is the main dance festival in Marseille and lasts all summer.
- Le festival du Plateau, at the Cours Julien, in September.
- The music festival Marsatac occurs in the end of September and was created 10 years ago. Artists who performed there were for example Public Enemy, Nouvelle Vague, dEUS, Mogwai, Peaches, Amon Tobin, De La Soul, Laurent Garnier, Aphex Twin....
- La Fiesta Des Suds, at the Dock des Suds, in October is a famous festival dedicated to World music. You can attend concerts of artists such as Asian Dub Foundation, Buena Vista Social Club, Cesaria Evora...
- La Foire aux Santons is a very picturesque Christmas market held from late November near the Canebière and Vieux Port. Provence is the home of santons, terracotta figurines used in nativity scènes known as crèches. Some merchants and many churches display impressive crèches of their own.
- Marseille en 2CV, Quai des Belges Marseille (Near the Vieux Port), e-mail: email@example.com. You can visit Marseille in an unusual way with Marseille en 2CV! From them, you can ride a "Deudeuche", the most legendary French car. You get a private driver who will drive you in the city of Marseille : the Vieux Port, the seaside, Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica...
You can contact them directly or the Tourist Office can arrange the tour for you.
- Marseille Provence Greeters, Rue de Forbin, Marseille (All the city), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Greeters are local volunteers from Marseille who accompany you on your walk, unveil their secret places and top addresses and regale you with fun little stories about the enigmatic Marseille-Provence area.
The Greeters are committed to offering a hospitable welcome, familiarizing visitors with their city and fostering friendly encounters and exchanges.
What’s more, the Association Marseille Provence Greeters organises your walk with a Greeter! Free.
Unsurprisingly, Marseille's cuisine is focused on fish and seafood. Its two flag-bearing specialities being the famous fish broth "bouillabaisse" and "aïoli", a garlic sauce served with vegetables and dried cod.
La Bouillabaisse de Marseille
La bouillabaisse is an excellent fish-based soup served with la rouille (a garlic-saffron sauce) and bread similar to crostini. La bouillabaisse cannot be enjoyed at any budgetary level. If you are invited to the home of someone making bouillabaisse, then you are in the clear. Never eat cheap bouillabaisse at a resto unless it's not called bouillabaisse; only eat it out if you have to reserve in advance. Bouillabaisse is a meal...first the soup, then the fish.
There are lots of Kebab restaurants along the Canebière. Many cheap, authentic couscous eateries are to be found around the Cours Belsunce, where the local Maghrebic immigrants have their lunch.
- Bar de L'Hotel de Ville: on the "Vieux Port" on the left of the City Hall. A very popular spot for the long lunch break Marseille's worker are used to take. Friendly service, good food and wine at a reasonable price. No English spoken whatsoever.
- Four des Navettes: next to the St Victor Fort, this bakery is famous for its "Navette" dry biscuit which recipe has been kept secret for almost a century. This is one of Marseille's culinary speciality..not to miss.
Many affordable restaurants with sunny terraces are to be found on Cours Julien, a pedestrian-only street near the Canebière and the "Plaine"
- L'Escapade marseillaise: 48, rue Caisserie, behind the Hôtel de Ville. A favourite among locals, this enjoyable restaurant offers a delectable Provençale cuisine.
- Chez Toinou: 3, cours Saint Louis, a block away from the Canebière. A local reference when it comes to seafood, especially famed for its oysters. Toinou also acts as a seafood and fresh fish vendor. This place is often packed so it's better to book ahead.
- L'Epuisette: its amazing location in the very picturesque Vallon des Auffes harbour is an undeniable plus. Seafood specialities and affordable bouillabaisse.
- Le Cercle Rouge: 41 Rue Adolphe Thiers, just off the Canebiere. This unusual restaurant does excellent Corsican tapas such as figatelli sausage, stuffed artichokes, panchetta in honey and red mullet in tomato sauce. Worth booking to get a spot on the lovely terrace.
- Le Cours en Vert, 102 Cours Julien (near the Metro station), ☎ +33 4 86774169. Vegetarian and organic (biologique) restaurant on the cours Julien.
Wholesome and tasty - mains are 10-14 euros. Organic beers and wines are available too. Child-friendly. Service is a little slow.
- Fayrouz, 62 Cours Julien, ☎ +33 4 91483630. Lebanese restaurant with fixed-price three-course menus around 20-25 euros each.
- La Table du Fort: 8, rue Fort Notre Dame, by the Vieux Port. A gastronomical restaurant consistently ranked among the city's best, specialized in seafood and fish dishes.
- Le Petit Nice Passédat: A 3-star Michelin restaurant on an idyllic location by the sea, facing the islands, held by local celebrity chef Gérald Passédat. It ranks among Southern France's very best restaurants and serves the best bouillabaisse in town... at a cost. From 180 € pp.
There are many small bars in Marseille and especially in View-Port. These are good places to meet up with friends after work or class to have a couple drinks. Drink prices are relatively cheap, between 3 euros to 7 euros a drink, and service is good.
- O'Brady's Irish Pub, 378, avenue de Mazargues, ☎ +33 4 91 71 53 71. Sun 12pm–1:30am; Mon-Sat 11–1:30am.
- Shamrock Irish Pub, 17, quai de Rive-Neuve, ☎ +33 4 91 33 11 01.
- Le Trolleybus, 24 quai de Rive Neuve, ☎ +33 4 91 54 30 45. This three room cave like club, is a great place to go if you like to listen to different types of music. One room or cave, plays hip hop, rap, and reggae, another room plays techno and dub step, and the last room plays classic rock. The drink prices range from 5 euros for a mixed drink or well beer to 10 euros for more quality alcohol.
- Le Cosy Bar, 1 rue du Chantier. Le Cosy Bar is a club aimed at the younger demographic. This is a multi-roomed club, plays top music in techno, dub step, hip hop, and reggae til 6:00am. Le Cosy Bar is know for their extravagant theme nights such as Moscow Beach, where everyone's attire is mixed between winter wear and beach clothes, and Soiree Pyjamas, where everyone dressing in pajamas. The drink prices are between 5 euros and 10 euros, like most of the other night clubs in the area.
- Le Bazar, 90 Boulevard Rabatau, ☎ +33 6 58 52 15 15. Le Bazar is situated near one of Marseille's beautiful beaches. Inside, there is a large dance floor with smaller sections with couches and tables. The floor of the club overlooks the bottom dance floor and is a place usually go to be in a quitter surrounding. The DJs play top techno, dub step, hip hop, and reggae. Drink prices here are a bit cheaper than most clubs (4 euros to 8 euros).
- le Petit Nice: on La Plaine next to the Cours Julien (may be wrong location), nice little cafe.
- Polikarpov, 24 Cours Honoré d'Estienne d'Orves, ☎ +33 4 91 52 70 30. Lively and good value late bar with outside terrace.
Does a wide range of cocktails and one of the cheaper places for beer.
- Bar des 13 Coins, 45 Rue Sainte-françoise - 13002 Marseille, ☎ +33 4 91 91 56 49. In "Le Panier", a nice terrace with a nice atmosphere
- Le Mystik, 141 route Léon Lachamp, ☎ +33 6 19 33 21 56. Le Mystik is a chic club located near avenue de luminy. The attire is upscale and the club attendees are mainly in the age group of 23 to 27. Le Mystik's DJ plays the top hits in techno, dub step, hip hop, and r&b until 4:30am. The drinks prices range from 8 euros to 12 euros for a single drink.
- Le Flamingo, 7 Rue Venture, ☎ +33 4 91 33 91 03. Le Flamingo is another one of Marseilles upscale clubs. Its pink lights give this three bar club a calm and soothing feel. The DJs here play the top techno and dub step hits. Prices for drinks range from 8 euros to 12 euros.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Marseille on Wikivoyage.