Marseille doesn’t feel like France, despite being the country’s second-largest city. A stroll around this Mediterranean city is completely unlike anywhere else, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Marseille has long had a reputation for being an outsider city, in fact, it was a city rampant with drugs and corruption in the 1970s until the early 21st century when things began to turn around.
It began by winning the right to be the European Capital of Culture in 2012 and has continued to push forward ever since.
Larger ships dock in the Môle Léon Gourret port, situated roughly 5km to the north of the city centre.
Passengers can either take a taxi into the city or use a shuttle bus provided by the cruise line, if provided.
Meanwhile, smaller ships often dock in La Joliette port, which has two berths. La Joliette is just five minutes from the heart of Marseille.
NEED TO KNOW
Marseille’s signature dish is the bouillabaisse (fish stew), which is meant to simmer for hours before being served.
Shoppers should head to La Canebière, which has some interesting sights to behold, or the Centre Bourse, which has approximately 60 shops. The Old Port Fish Market is also worth a visit.
In Marseille, it’s customary to leave tips in cafes and restaurants, usually of about five to 10 per cent of the bill.
WHAT WE LOVE
The Old Port (Vieux Port): Explore the Old Port to get a true feel of the city. There’s plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars to explore, as well as plenty of local seafood. St. Victor’s Abbey and Phare de Sainte Marie (the old lighthouse) are also within walking distance. But it’s just as pleasant to wander around the old harbour and do a spot of people-watching.
Notre-Dame de la Garde: Probably Marseille’s most famous ¬– and most stunning – site. Still a key part of the city’s religious make-up with thousands making the pilgrimage every year for Assumption Day, the non-religious will have to make do with the Neo-Byzantine architecture and the stunning views of the city below. It is possible to walk to the top of the hill the cathedral sits on, however this is fairly steep.
The Mucem: One of the main reasons that Marseille was named European Capital of Culture back in 2012 was this incredible museum dedicated to the Mediterranean. From the striking contemporary architecture which catches the eye from miles away, to the fascinating exhibits about the history of the great nations of the Med, there’s plenty to be enjoyed at this newest addition to Marseille’s burgeoning cultural repertoire.
La Friche La Belle de Mai: This art centre, which spans 45,000 square metres, was once a thriving tobacco factory. Today, it includes a theatre, cinema, bookshop, and art workshops, as well as well electro music parties, providing a truly diverse experience.
- A burgeoning city with lots to offer
- Great local cuisine
- Plenty of sunshine in the summer months