Marseille, often overlooked, is a fascinating vacation destination. Known to the Greeks as Massalia, Marseille’s history spans over 20,000 years. Today, just like when it was an ancient Greek settlement, the city remains a major center of maritime trade.

In recent years, Marseille has undergone improvements to its infrastructure, offering visitors a more welcoming experience. As the second-largest city in France, there’s plenty to see and do here, so give yourself extra time to explore.

Old Port

Take a stroll along the Old Port, where you can admire the boats, enjoy the sea breeze, and soak up the vibrant atmosphere. The Old Port has been the heart of Marseille for centuries and continues to be a popular gathering spot for locals and travelers alike.

North African Market

Wander through the North African Market, where you can sample exotic foods and learn about the sights, sounds, and smells of this lively market. Here, you’ll find a wide variety of spices, herbs, vegetables, and other ingredients used in North African cuisine. Don’t miss the chance to try some delicious street food, such as couscous or merguez (spicy sausage).

Fort Saint Jean

Visit the historic Fort Saint Jean, a fortress-turned-museum expo center. This impressive structure dates back to the 12th century and has played a significant role in Marseille’s defense over the centuries. Today, it houses various exhibitions and offers stunning views of the city and the Mediterranean Sea.

Notre-Dame de la Garde

Take a thrilling city bus ride to visit Notre-Dame de la Garde, the iconic church perched on a hilltop overlooking Marseille. The journey up the narrow, winding roads is an adventure in itself. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the sea. The church’s interior is equally impressive, with its ornate decorations and beautiful stained-glass windows.

Getting to Notre-Dame de la Garde

To reach Notre-Dame de la Garde, you can take bus number 60 from the Old Port. The ride takes about 20 minutes and offers scenic views along the way. Alternatively, you can walk up the hill, which takes around 30-40 minutes, depending on your pace.

Other Attractions

  • Château d’If: A fortress on an island near Marseille, made famous by Alexandre Dumas’ novel “The Count of Monte Cristo”
  • La Canebière: Marseille’s main street, lined with shops, cafes, and historical buildings
  • Calanques National Park: A stunning coastal area with limestone cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and hiking trails

Food and Drink

Marseille is known for its delicious seafood and traditional dishes, such as bouillabaisse (a fish stew) and pieds et paquets (a tripe and sheep’s feet dish). Be sure to sample some local specialties during your visit. The city also has a thriving craft beer scene, with several microbreweries and bars offering a wide selection of local brews.

Marseille is a city full of surprises, offering a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re interested in exploring ancient sites, sampling delicious food, or simply soaking up the Mediterranean atmosphere, Marseille has a lot to offer. Bienvenue à Marseille!

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