Marseille

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Marseille is not your average holiday destination. France’s second largest city is a cultural melting pot, bursting with character, quirks and energy, and thoroughly distinct from the postcard image of rural Provence. If a glimpse of Mediterranean France off the tourist trail is what you’re after, then Marseille is definitely for you.

Food 


Marseille's cuisine is also extremely distinctive. Due to its geographical location on the Mediterranean coast it is primarily seafood-based with its two specialties being the famous fish broth (Bouillabaisse) and dried cod aioli. Head to the terrace restaurants found on Cours Julien and La Plaine to get the true Marseillaise dining experience.

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Sport

The birthplace of one of the world’s most famous footballers, Zinedine Zidane, Marseille is a football loving city with locals flocking to see their beloved Olympique de Marseille in action in France’s Premier football league, Ligue 1. The atmosphere inside Marseille’s home stadium, the Stade Velodrom, is legendary and well worth experiencing. But it’s probably smart to stay away when they face their archrivals Paris St. Germain – things can get fairly heated when these two clash.

Location

Not only is Marseille a fabulous location in itself, it also provides a springboard to some of France’s most beautiful regions. Less than an hour’s drive east and you’ll be swimming in the Côte d'Azur. Thirty minutes north and you’ll be immersed in the rural towns of Aix, Avignon, and Arles. Head due south and you’ll find Marseille’s spectacular Calanques (de Morgiou and d’enVau). These picturesque, white-cliffed inlets conceal some of the Mediterranean’s finest beaches and seafronts.

Five for free

  • Vieux Port

    The Old Port, or Vieux Port, is the focal point of the city, and has been for the entirety of its 2,700 year history. Today, the waterfront area is the spot of choice for locals and visitors to wine, dine and soak up the sun and sea spray.

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  • Marché des Capucins

    Marseille’s fusion of cultures is best experienced at its chaotic street markets; the best of which is probably the Marché des Capucins near the Noailles metro stop. You’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to a North African Bazaar as you stroll through narrow rows of thronging stalls. Brash vendors sell a range of items including fish fresh off the boat, exotic fruit and assorted electronics. Just remember to bring your bartering hat.

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  • Parc Borély

    Parc Borély, designated by the Ministry of Culture as one of the Notable Gardens of France, is the perfect escape from the humdrum of the city. Marseille gets an average of 300 days of sun a year, so it’s highly likely that you’ll get good picnic weather!

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  • La Plaine

    La Plaine hosts bargain-filled markets every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. On non-market days, the huge plaza becomes the trendiest hang out spot in Marseille. Locals socialise in the wide assortment of restaurants, bars, and book stores that border the square. 

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  • Basilique Notre Dame de La Garde

    Situated at the highest natural point in Marseille, this lavish Neo-Byzantine basilica provides the best views of Marseille and its surrounds. Known by locals as the “good mother”, fishermen used to have their boats blessed in this church before setting out to sea.

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