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Marseille , also known as Marseilles in English, is a city in France. The capital of the Bouches-du-Rhône department and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azurregion, Marseille, on France's south coast, is the country's second largest city, after Paris, with a population of 852,516 in 2012, and an area of 241 km2(93 sq mi), the 3rd-largestmetropolitan area in France after Paris and Lyon.
Known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as Massalia (Greek:Μασσαλία,Massalía), Marseille was the most important trading centre in the region and the main commercial port of the French Empire. Marseille is now France's largest city on the Mediterranean coast and the largest port for commerce, freight and cruise ships. The city was European Capital of Culture, together with Košice, Slovakia, in 2013. It hosted the European Football Championship in 2016, and will be the European Capital of Sport in 2017. The city is home to several campuses of Aix-Marseille University and part of one of the largest metropolitan conurbations in France, theMetropolis of Aix-Marseille-Provence.
|POPULATION :||• Population (Jan. 2012) 852,516|
• Urban (Jan. 2011) 1,560,921
• Metro (Jan. 2011) 1,831,500
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone CET (UTC+1)|
• Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
|AREA :||• Area 240.62 km2 (92.90 sq mi)|
• Urban (2010) 1,731.91 km2 (668.69 sq mi)
• Metro (2010) 3,173.51 km2 (1,225.30 sq mi)
|COORDINATES :||43°17′47″N 5°22′12″E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.4%|
• Female: 51.6%
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :||13055 / 13001-13016|
|DIALING CODE :|
Marseille (Latin: Massilia) 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) was the European Capital of Culture, a large series of cultural events took place, and several new infrastructures were inaugurated. In 2013 Marseille also hosted the EuroPride.
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 Spaniards 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.
Marseille is listed as a major centre of art and history. The city has many museums and galleries and there are many ancient buildings and churches of historical interest.
Most of the attractions of Marseille (including shopping areas) are located in the 1st, 2nd, 6th and 7th arrondissements. These include:
- The Old Port or Vieux-Port, the main harbour and marina of the city. It is guarded by two massive forts (Fort Saint-Nicolas and Fort Saint-Jean) and is one of the main places to eat in the city. Dozens of cafés line the waterfront. The Quai des Belges at the end of the harbour is the site of the daily fish market. Much of the northern quayside area was rebuilt by the architect Fernand Pouillon after its destruction by the Nazis in 1943.
- The Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), abaroque building dating from the 17th century.
- The Centre Bourse and the adjacent rue St Ferreol district (including rue de Rome and rue Paradis), the main shopping area in central Marseille.
- The Hôtel-Dieu, a former hospital in Le Panier, transformed into an InterContinental hotel in 2013.
- La Vieille Charité in Le Panier, an architecturally significant building designed by the Puget brothers. The central baroque chapel is situated in a courtyard lined with arcaded galleries. Originally built as an alms house, it is now home to an archeological museum and a gallery of African and Asian art, as well as bookshops and a café. It also houses the Marseille International Poetry Centre.
- The Cathedral of Sainte-Marie-Majeure or La Major, founded in the 4th century, enlarged in the 11th century and completely rebuilt in the second half of the 19th century by the architects Léon Vaudoyer and Henri-Jacques Espérandieu. The present day cathedral is a gigantic edifice in Romano-Byzantine style. A romanesque transept, choir and altar survive from the older medieval cathedral, spared from complete destruction only as a result of public protests at the time.
- The 12th-century parish church of Saint-Laurent and adjoining 17th-century chapel of Sainte-Catherine, on the quayside near the Cathedral.
- The Abbey of Saint-Victor, one of the oldest places of Christian worship in Europe. Its 5th-century crypt and catacombs occupy the site of a Hellenicburial ground, later used for Christian martyrs and venerated ever since. Continuing a medieval tradition, every year at Candlemas a Black Madonnafrom the crypt is carried in procession along rue Sainte for a blessing from the archbishop, followed by a mass and the distribution of "navettes" and green votive candles.
Outside of central Marseille
The main attractions outside the city center include:
- The 19th-century Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, an enormous Romano-Byzantine basilica built by architect Espérandieu in the hills to the south of the Old Port. The terrace offers spectacular panoramic views of Marseille and its surroundings.
- The Stade Vélodrome, the home stadium of the city's main football team, Olympique de Marseille.
- The Unité d'Habitation, an influential and iconic modernist building designed by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier in 1952. On the third floor is the gastronomic restaurant, Le Ventre de l'Architecte. On the roof is the contemporary gallery MaMo opened in 2013.
- The Docks de Marseille, a 19th-century warehouse transformed into offices.
- The Pharo Gardens, a park with views of the Mediterranean and the Old Port.
- The Corniche, a picturesque waterfront road between the Old Port and the Bay of Marseille.
- The beaches at the Prado, Pointe Rouge, les Goudes, Callelongue, and Le prophète.
- The Calanques, a wild mountainous coastal area of outstanding natural beauty accessible from Callelongue, Sormiou, Morgiou, Luminy, and Cassis.Calanques National Park became France's tenth national park in 2012.
- The islands of the Frioul archipelago in the Bay of Marseille, accessible by ferry from the Old Port. The prison of Château d'If was one of the settings forThe Count of Monte Cristo, the novel by Alexandre Dumas. The neighbouring islands of Ratonneau and Pomègues are joined by a man-made breakwater. The site of a former garrison and quarantine hospital, these islands are also of interest for their marine wildlife.
Humans have inhabited Marseille and its environs for almost 30,000 years: palaeolithiccave paintings in the underwater Cosquer Cave near the calanque of Morgiou date back to between 27,000 and 19,000 BC; and recent excavations near the railway station have unearthed neolithic brick habitations from around 6000 BC.
Massalia, whose name was probably adapted from an existing language related to Ligurian, was the first Greek settlement in France. It was established within modern Marseille around 600 BC by colonists coming from Phocaea (now Foça, in modern Turkey) on the Aegean coast of Asia Minor. The connection between Massalia and the Phoceans is mentioned inThucydides's Peloponnesian War; he notes that the Phocaean project was opposed by the Carthaginians, whose fleet was defeated. The founding of Massalia has also been recorded as a legend. According to the legend, Protis, while exploring for a new trading outpost or emporion for Phocaea, discovered the Mediterranean cove of the Lacydon, fed by a freshwater stream and protected by two rocky promontories. Protis was invited inland to a banquet held by the chief of the local Ligurian tribe for suitors seeking the hand of his daughter Gyptis in marriage. At the end of the banquet, Gyptis presented the ceremonial cup of wine to Protis, indicating her unequivocal choice. Following their marriage, they moved to the hill just to the north of the Lacydon; and from this settlement grew Massalia. Robb gives greater weight to the Gyptis story, though he notes that the tradition was to offer water, not wine, to signal the choice of a marriage partner. A second wave of colonists arrived in about 540, when Phocaea was destroyed by the Persians.
Massalia became one of the major trading ports of the ancient world. At its height, in the 4th century BC, it had a population of about 6000 inhabitants on about fifty hectares surrounded by a wall. It was governed as an aristocratic republic, with an assembly formed by the 600 wealthiest citizens. It had a large temple of the cult of Apollo of Delphi on a hilltop overlooking the port and a temple of the cult of Artemis of Ephesus at the other end of the city. The drachmas minted in Massalia were found in all parts of Ligurian-Celtic Gaul. Traders from Massalia ventured into France on the rivers Durance and Rhône and established overland trade routes to Switzerland and Burgundy, reaching as far north as the Baltic Sea. They exported their own products: local wine, salted pork and fish, aromatic and medicinal plants, coral, and cork. The most famous citizen of Massalia was the mathematician, astronomer and navigator Pytheas. Pytheas made mathematical instruments, which allowed him to establish almost exactly the latitude of Marseille, and he was the first scientist to observe that the tides were connected with the phases of the moon. Between 330 and 320 BC, he organized an expedition by ship into the Atlantic and as far north as England, and to visit Iceland, Shetland, and Norway, where he was the first scientist to describe drift ice and the midnight sun. Though he hoped to establish a sea trading route for tin from Cornwall, his trip was not a commercial success, and it was not repeated. The Massiliots found it cheaper and simpler to trade with Northern Europe over land routes.
The city thrived by acting as a link between inland Gaul, hungry for Roman goods and wine (which Massalia was steadily exporting by 500 BC), and Rome's insatiable need for new products and slaves. During thePunic Wars, Hannibal crossed the Alps north of the city. In 123 BC, Massalia was faced by an invasion of the Allobroges and Arverniunder Bituitus; it entered into an alliance with Rome, receiving protection—Roman legions under Q. Fabius Maximus and Gn. Domitius Ahenobarbus defeated the Gauls at Vindalium in 121 BC—in exchange for yielding a strip of land through its territory which was used to construct the Via Domitia, a road to Spain. The city thus maintained its independence a little longer, although the Romans organized their province of Transalpine Gaul around it and constructed a colony at Narbo Martius (Narbonne) in 118 BC which subsequently competed economically with Massalia.
During Julius Caesar's war against Pompey and most of the Senate, Massalia allied itself with the rightful government; closing its gates to Caesar on his way to Spain in April of 49 BC, the city was besieged. Despite reinforcement by L. Domitius Ahenobarbus, Massalia's fleet was defeated and the city fell by September. It maintained nominal autonomy but lost its trading empire and was largely brought under Roman dominion. The statesman Titus Annius Milo, then living in exile in Marseille, joked that no one could miss Rome as long as they could eat the delicious red mullet of Marseille. Marseille adapted well to its new status under Rome. Most of the archaeological remnants of the original Greek settlement were replaced by later Roman additions. During the Roman era, the city was controlled by a directory of 15 selected "first" among 600 senators. Three of them had the pre-eminence and the essence of the executive power. The city's laws among other things forbade the drinking of wine by women and allowed, by a vote of the senators, assistance to a person to commit suicide.
It was during this time that Christianity first appeared in Marseille, as evidenced by catacombs above the harbour and records of Roman martyrs. According to Provençal tradition, Mary Magdalen evangelised Marseille with her brother Lazarus. The diocese of Marseille was set up in the 1st century (it became the Archdiocese of Marseille in 1948).
Middle Ages and Renaissance
The city was not affected by the decline of the Roman Empire before the 8th century, as Marseille knew a stable situation, probably thanks to its efficient defensive walls inherited from the Phoceans. Even after the town fell into the hands of the Visigoths in the 5th century, the city became an important Christian intellectual center with people such as John Cassian,Salvian and Sidonius Apollinaris. Marseille even knew a golden age in the 6th century, when it became a major commercial center in the Mediterranean Sea. Late Antiquity continued until the 7th century in Marseille, with Phocean and Roman infrastructures still in use (forums, baths). Marseille's economic activities and prosperity ended suddenly with the Charles Martel attacks in 739, when his armies punished the city for rejecting the governor he had established a few years earlier. The city did not develop again before the 10th century, as it knew 150 years of recurring attacks from the Greeks and the Saracens.
The city regained much of its wealth and trading power when it was revived in the 10th century by the Counts of Provence. The Counts of Provence allowed Marseille, governed by a consul, great autonomy until the rule of Raymond Berengar IV of Provence. Marseille initially resisted his assertion of control, but acknowledged his suzerainty in 1243. After his death, his daughter Beatrice of Provence married Louis IX of France's brother Charles in 1246, making him Count. Charles continued his father-in-law's administrative changes, which reignited discontent. Marseille rebelled in 1248, under the leadership of two local nobles, Barral of Baux and Boniface of Castellane, while Charles was embarked on the Seventh Crusade. Charles returned in 1250 and forced Marseille to surrender in 1252. Marseille rose up once more, in 1262, under Boniface of Castellane and Hugues des Baux, cousin of Barral des Baux (who remained loyal and helped contain the unrest). Charles quelled the revolt in 1263. Trade prospered, and Marseille gave him no further trouble. In 1348, the city suffered terribly from the bubonic plague, which continued to strike intermittently until 1361. As a major port, it is believed that Marseille was one of the first places in France to encounter the epidemic, and some 15,000 people died in a city that had a population of 25,000 during its period of economic prosperity in the previous century. The city's fortunes declined still further when it was sacked and pillaged by the Aragonese in 1423.
Marseille's population and trading status soon recovered and in 1437, the Count of Provence René of Anjou, who succeeded his father Louis II of Anjou as King of Sicily and Duke of Anjou, arrived in Marseille and established it as France's most fortified settlement outside of Paris. He helped raise the status of the town to a city and allowed certain privileges to be granted to it. Marseille was then used by the Duke of Anjou as a strategic maritime base to reconquer his kingdom of Sicily. King René, who wished to equip the entrance of the port with a solid defense, decided to build on the ruins of the old Maubert tower and to establish a series of ramparts guarding the harbour. Jean Pardo, engineer, conceived the plans and Jehan Robert, mason of Tarascon, carried out the work. The construction of the new city defenses took place between 1447 and 1453. Trading in Marseille also flourished as the Guild began to establish a position of power within the merchants of the city. Notably, René also founded the Corporation of Fisherman.
Marseille was united with Provence in 1481 and then incorporated into France the following year, but soon acquired a reputation for rebelling against the central government. Some 30 years after its incorporation, Francis I visited Marseille, drawn by his curiosity to see a rhinocerosthat King Manuel I of Portugal was sending to Pope Leo X, but which had been shipwrecked on the Île d'If. As a result of this visit, the fortress of Château d'If was constructed; this did little to prevent Marseille being placed under siege by the army of the Holy Roman Empire a few years later. Marseille became a naval base for the Franco-Ottoman alliance in 1536, as a Franco-Turkish fleet was stationed in the harbour, threatening the Holy Roman Empire and especially Genoa. Towards the end of the 16th century, Marseille suffered yet another outbreak of the plague; the hospital of the Hôtel-Dieu was founded soon afterwards. A century later more troubles were in store: King Louis XIVhimself had to descend upon Marseille, at the head of his army, in order to quash a local uprising against the governor. As a consequence, the two forts of Saint-Jean and Saint-Nicholas were erected above the harbour and a large fleet and arsenal were established in the harbour itself.
18th and 19th centuries
Over the course of the 18th century, the port's defences were improved and Marseille became more important as France's leading military port in the Mediterranean. In 1720, the last Great Plague of Marseille, a form of the Black Death, killed 100,000 people in the city and the surrounding provinces. Jean-Baptiste Grosson, royal notary, wrote from 1770 to 1791 the historical Almanac of Marseille, published as Recueil des antiquités et des monuments marseillais qui peuvent intéresser l’histoire et les arts ("Collection of antiquities and Marseille monuments which can interest history and the arts"), which for a long time was the primary resource on the history of the monuments of the city.
The local population enthusiastically embraced the French Revolution and sent 500 volunteers to Paris in 1792 to defend the revolutionary government; their rallying call to revolution, sung on their march from Marseille to Paris, became known as La Marseillaise, now the national anthem of France.
During the 19th century, the city was the site of industrial innovations and growth in manufacturing. The rise of the French Empire and the conquests of France from 1830 onward (notably Algeria) stimulated the maritime trade and raised the prosperity of the city. Maritime opportunities also increased with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. This period in Marseille's history is reflected in many of its monuments, such as the Napoleonic obelisk at Mazargues and the royal triumphal arch on the Place Jules Guesde.
1900 up to World War II
During the first half of the 20th century, Marseille celebrated its "port of the empire" status through the colonial exhibitions of 1906 and 1922; the monumental staircase of the railway station, glorifying French colonial conquests, dates from then. In 1934, Alexander I of Yugoslavia arrived at the port to meet with the French foreign ministerLouis Barthou. He was assassinated there by Vlado Chernozemski.
In the interwar period, Marseille was known for its extensive organised crime networks. Simon Kitson has shown how this corruption extended into local administrations like the Police.
During the Second World War, Marseille was bombed by German and Italian forces in 1940. The city was occupied by the Germans from November 1942 to August 1944. On 22 January 1943, over 4,000 Jews were seized in Marseille as part of "Action Tiger". They were held in detention camps before being deported to Poland occupied by Nazi Germany to be murdered. The Old Port was bombed in 1944 by the Allies to prepare for liberation of France. The city was liberated by the Allies on 29 August 1944. As a part of Operation Dragoon,General Joseph de Goislard de Monsabert lead roughly 130,000 French troops to liberate the city. Similar to the liberation of other major French cities, (Such as Paris and Strasbourg.) The local German garrison was defeated by mainly French forces, with limited American support.
Marseille after World War II
After the war, much of the city was rebuilt during the 1950s. The governments of East Germany, West Germany and Italy paid massive reparations, plus compound interest, to compensate civilians killed, injured, left homeless or destitute as a result of the war.
From the 1950s onward, the city served as an entrance port for over a million immigrants to France. In 1962, there was a large influx from the newly independent Algeria, including around 150,000 returned Algerian settlers (pieds-noirs).Many immigrants have stayed and given the city a French-African quarter with a large market.
Marseille has a Mediterranean climate with mild, humid winters and warm to hot, mostly dry summers. December, January, and February are the coldest months, averaging temperatures of around 12 °C (54 °F) during the day and 4 °C (39 °F) at night. July and August are the hottest months, averaging temperatures of around 28–30 °C (82–86 °F) during the day and 19 °C (66 °F) at night in the Marignane airport (35 km (22 mi) from Marseille) but in the city near the sea the average temperature is 27 °C (81 °F) in July. Marseille is officially the sunniest major city in France with over 2,900 hours of sunshine while the average sunshine in France is around 1,950 hours and is also the driest major city with only 512 mm (20 in) of precipitation annually, especially thanks to the Mistral which is a cold, dry wind originating in the Rhône Valley that occurs mostly in winter and spring and which generally brings clear skies and sunny weather to the region. Less frequent is the Sirocco, a hot sand-bearing wind, coming from the Sahara Desert. Snowfalls are infrequent, over 50% of years do not experience a single snowfall. The hottest temperature was 40.6 °C (105.1 °F) on 26 July 1983 during a great heat wave, the lowest temperature was −14.3 °C (6.3 °F) on 13 February 1929 during a strong cold wave, but 100 °F (38 °C) or 20 °F (−7 °C) temperatures are uncommon.
Climate data for Marseille
|Record high °C (°F)||21.2|
|Average high °C (°F)||11.8|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||8.4|
|Average low °C (°F)||4.9|
|Record low °C (°F)||−10.5|
Marseille is the second largest city in France after Paris and the centre of the third largest metropolitan area in France after Paris and Lyon. To the east, starting in the small fishing village of Callelongue on the outskirts of Marseille and stretching as far as Cassis, are the Calanques, a rugged coastal area interspersed with small fjord-like inlets. Further east still are the Sainte-Baume (a 1,147 m (3,763 ft) mountain ridge rising from a forest of deciduous trees), the city of Toulon and the French Riviera. To the north of Marseille, beyond the low Garlaban and Etoile mountain ranges, is the 1,011 m (3,317 ft) Mont Sainte Victoire. To the west of Marseille is the former artists' colony of l'Estaque; further west are the Côte Bleue, the Gulf of Lion and the Camargue region in the Rhône delta. The airportlies to the north west of the city at Marignane on the Étang de Berre.
The city's main thoroughfare (the wide boulevard called the Canebière) stretches eastward from the Old Port (Vieux Port) to the Réformés quarter. Two large forts flank the entrance to the Old Port—FortSaint-Nicolas on the south side and Fort Saint-Jean on the north. Further out in the Bay of Marseille is the Frioul archipelagowhich comprises four islands, one of which, If, is the location of Château d'If, made famous by the Dumas novel The Count of Monte Cristo. The main commercial centre of the city intersects with the Canebière at rue St Ferréol and the Centre Bourse (the main shopping mall). The centre of Marseille has several pedestrianised zones, most notably rue St Ferréol, Cours Julien near the Music Conservatory, the Cours Honoré-d'Estienne-d'Orves off the Old Port and the area around the Hôtel de Ville. To the south east of central Marseille in the 6th arrondissement are the Prefecture and the monumental fountain of Place Castellane, an important bus and metro interchange. To the south west are the hills of the 7th arrondissement, dominated by the basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde. The railway station—Gare de Marseille Saint-Charles—is north of the Centre Bourse in the 1st arrondissement; it is linked by the Boulevard d'Athènes to the Canebière.
Marseille is a major French centre for trade and industry, with excellent transportation infrastructure (roads, sea port and airport). Marseille Provence Airport, is the fourth largest in France. In May 2005, the French financial magazine L'Expansion named Marseille the most dynamic of France's large cities, citing figures showing that 7,200 companies had been created in the city since 2000. Marseille is also France's second largest research centre with 3,000 research scientists within Aix Marseille University. As of 2014, the Marseille metropolitan area had a GDP amounting to $60.3 billion, or $36,127 per capita (purchasing power parity).
Historically, the economy of Marseille was dominated by its role as a port of the French Empire, linking the North African colonies of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia with Metropolitan France. The Old Port was replaced as the main port for trade by the Port de la Joliette during the Second Empire and now contains restaurants, offices, bars and hotels and functions mostly as a private marina. The majority of the port and docks, which experienced decline in the 1970s after the oil crisis, have been recently redeveloped with funds from the European Union. Fishing remains important in Marseille and the food economy of Marseille is fed by the local catch; a daily fish market is still held on the Quai des Belges of the Old Port.
The economy of Marseille and its region is still linked to its commercial port, the first French port and the fifth European port by cargo tonnage, which lies north of the Old Port and eastern in Fos-sur-Mer. Some 45,000 jobs are linked to the port activities and it represents 4 billion euros added value to the regional economy. 100 million tons of freight pass annually through the port, 60% of which is petroleum, making it number one in France and the Mediterranean and number three in Europe. However, in the early 2000s, the growth in container traffic was being stifled by the constant strikes and social upheaval.The port is among the 20th firsts in Europe for container traffic with 1,062,408 TEU and new infrastructures have already raised the capacity to 2M TEU. Petroleum refining and shipbuilding are the principal industries, but chemicals, soap, glass, sugar,building materials, plastics, textiles, olive oil, and processed foods are also important products.Marseille is connected with the Rhône via a canal and thus has access to the extensive waterway network of France. Petroleum is shipped northward to the Paris basin by pipeline. The city also serves as France's leading centre of oil refining.
Companies, services and high technologies
In recent years, the city has also experienced a large growth in service sector employment and a switch from light manufacturing to a cultural, high-tech economy. The Marseille region is home to thousands of companies, 90% of which are small and medium enterprises with less than 500 employees. Among the most famous ones are CMA CGM, container-shipping giant; Compagnie maritime d'expertises (Comex), world leader in sub-sea engineering and hydraulic systems; Eurocopter Group, an EADS company; Azur Promotel, an active real estate development company; La Provence, the local daily newspaper; RTM, Marseille's public transport company; and Société Nationale Maritime Corse Méditerranée (SNCM), a major operator in passenger, vehicle and freight transportation in the Western Mediterranean. The urban operation Euroméditerranée has developed a large offer of offices and thus Marseille hosts one of the main business district in France.
Marseille is the home of three main technopoles: Château-Gombert (technological innovations), Luminy (biotechnology) and La Belle de Mai (17,000 sq.m. of offices dedicated to multimedia activities).
Tourism and attractions
The port is also an important arrival base for millions of people each year, with 2.4 million including 890,100 from cruise ships. With its beaches, history, architecture and culture (24 museums and 42 theatres), Marseille is one of the most visited cities in France, with 4.1 million visitors in 2012. Marseille is ranked 86th in the world for business tourism and events, advancing from the 150th spot one year before. The number of congress days hosted on its territory increased from 109,000 in 1996 to almost 300,000 in 2011. They take place in three main sites, Le Palais du Pharo, Le Palais des Congrès et des Expositions (Parc Chanot) and the World Trade Center. In 2012 Marseille hosted the World Water Forum. Several urban projects have been developed to make Marseille attractive. Thus new parks, museums, public spaces and real estate projects aim to improve the city cadre de vie (Parc du 26e Centenaire, Old Port of Marseille, numerous places in Euromediterrannee) to attract firms and people. Marseille municipality acts to develop Marseille as a regional nexus for entertainment in the south of France with high concentration of museums, cinemas, theatres, clubs, bars, restaurants, fashion shops, hotels, and art galleries.
The city of Marseille is divided into 16 municipal arrondissements, which are themselves informally divided intoquartiers (111 in total). The arrondissements are regrouped in pairs, into 8 secteurs, each with a mayor and council (like the arrondissements in Paris and Lyon).
Le Vieux Port has WiFi access, available from many of the bars and restaurants, and in some places in the street (although there are not many places to sit). The ESSID to use is "Marseille sans fil" and the network is not encrypted. When you first connect, your browser will take you to a web page about the service in French: simply click on "Cliquez ici" ("Click here") on that page to use the network freely.
Note WiFi is pronounced wee-fee or wiffy in French - even by English speakers. Asking for Why-Fye will usually be greeted by a blank look.
Prices in Marseille
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€1.55|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||€5.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||€29.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||€40.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||€59.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||€8.00|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||€4.00|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€4.00|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||€10.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||€17.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||€0.21|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||€7.00|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||€1.70|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||€70.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||€37.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||€84.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||€1.50|
64 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
208 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Marseille-Provence International Airport (IATA: MRS) is located about 30 km from Marseille. Buses, taxis and now train connect in less than 30 minutes. Shuttle services from other European cities have made more places available from Marseille.
La Navette Aéroport is an easy way to get to Marseille's city center. The shuttle leaves approximately every 15-20 minutes, taking 25 minutes and goes directly to the St. Charles bus/train station where you can take the metro or walk to your hotel. As of February 2016, the price is €8.20 for a one-way or €13.10 for a round-trip.
Marseille has TGV lines to Paris (3 hours) and Lyon (1 hour 45), Nice (2 hours) and to Brussels (5 hours). Also, Eurostar now offers an all year round direct service from London (6½ hours) with up to five weekly departures during summer season and one to two during winter.
For travel from Spain, there an are daily AVE service operated by a joint venture of the French and Spanish railway companies from Barcelona (4 hours), andMadrid (7 hours). Alternatively, there are frequent connections to Cerbère and onwards to Barcelona by means of a series of regional trains.
There is also a daily Thello train to Milan (4h45).
- Gare Saint-Charles (train station), Square Narvik, 3635. 04:30-01:05; Fri: 04:30-01:30. This is the main train station of Marseille. It is well-linked to the rest of the city with two subway lines and many buses stop there. It is a short walk away from the Canebière and the Old Port. NB: the station is a bit up upon a hill: if you decide to go the station by foot, you will have to climb up of a stairway that could be not that easy if you carry some heavy luggage.
Eurolines has many connections all over Europe. From Marseille there are at least direct connections to Barcelona, Prague and Tangier.
There is also a Eurolines office on the 3 Allée Léon Gambetta; If you walk down the big stairs on the southside of the station, follow the road until you come to a squarelike intersection. The office is on your left hand.
Marseille is very well connected to most French cities through numerous highways. As always in France those highways are expensive but practical, comfortable and fast. Marseille is around 8 hours from Paris by car, 2 hours from Nice, 1h30 from Montpellier, 4 hours from Toulouse and 3 hours from Lyon. However, be aware that driving in the city centre is a nightmare - park your car somewhere safe and stick to public transport when ever you can.
Marseille has a big harbour. There are direct daily services to Marseille from Ajaccio, Bastia, Porto Torres, Porto-Vecchio, and Propriano as well as ferries traversing the Mediterranean from Oran and Algiers in Algeria, usually with one or two crossings per week.
There are several piers at the harbour, so it is advisable to check well in advance from which pier you are departing.
If traveling by bicycle, you should arrive early in the day to avoid getting lost in this vast metropolis. Maps from the tourist office focus on the city center, so you should come with your own map to navigate the suburbs. There is a very cheap bike location system (Le vélo), which costs 1 euro for a week's subscription. Each time you hire a bike, the first 30 minutes are free, then each hour costs 1 euro. Note that there is a 150 euros deposit which will be charged if you don't return the bike proper. Univélo Marseille is a mobile app which gives you live bike or bike parking availability in the 100+ bike stations.
Transportation - Get Around
By bus, tramway, subway
Marseille is served by a transit system, the Régie des Transports de Marseille (RTM) comprising 2 subway lines, 2 tram lines and 74 bus lines. If you have any mobility problems, are in a wheel chair or have a child in a push chair, you should be aware that almost every métro station has steps in it somewhere and some will have several flights of stairs - stick to the trams and buses which are a better option.
The tickets for bus/métro can be bought in the cafes, at the subway stations, or on the bus; it is advised to buy a multi journey ticket (carte libertés) at 13 € (10 voyages), which are not sold in the buses. The number of transfers is unlimited (including the return journeys) within the one-hour limit between the first boarding and last transfer on all the network (you must validate with each entry to the bus). The subway actually runs between 5AM and 12:30AM. The tram system operates until 12:30AM 7 days a week. Most bus routes do not operate after 9PM or so, although a limited network of night buses (Fluobus) operates with infrequent service (only about every 45–60 minutes or so) until about 12:30AM or so. Using a taxi is recommended if you need to travel after 9PM
The Pilote website, includes all the bus, tram and metro schedules but is easier to read than the RTM sites. Moreover, this site repeats the schedules of the majority of transport in common runs of the agglomeration (tram, bus interurban, trains regional) and makes it possible to search for journeys in Marseille and the nearby communes.
Airport transfers are available for €8.50 each way to/from Gare St Charles. Tickets may be bought at the cabin between Hall 1 and Hall 3/4 of the main terminal and at a separate kiosk in the new Gare Routière, after Voie N in the Gare St Charles. The bus runs every 20 minutes on 10, 30, and 50 minutes past the hour. The ride is about 30 minutes. The bus says Navette Aeroport Gare St Charles on it. From Gare St Charles, the metro can get you to most hotels.
Metro tickets allow unlimited transfers onto bus or tram within 1 hour of initial use for the base €1.50 fare but does not include re-entry (1 hour limit) to the metro. A daily ticket (carte journée) costs €5.00.
A Ferry Boat crosses the Old Harbour (Vieux Port). It is a tourist attraction in itself known as the shortest commercial boat ride in Europe. Several other ferries propose connexions with L'Estaque, Les Goudes, La Pointe-Rouge and Le Frioul. They cost 10€ return trip but a 1 week RTM transportation pass (13€) comprises them (except Frioul island) which is very interesting. Also there are several companies proposing boat tours of the Calanque, like mini-cruises.
Avoid taking your car if you possibly can. Marseille, at least the centre, has narrow streets, one-way streets, random lane changes and so on which can drive both locals and non-locals crazy. The local drivers have a well deserved reputation for fearlessness - particularly if they are on two wheels. In addition, Marseille has some of the lowest parking fines in France - parking fines are rarely enforced and consequently you will find cars parked (and sometimes double parked) everywhere.
Due to the new tunnel that is being built to try to alleviate some of Marseille's traffic problems, satellite navigational systems such as the Tom Tom are likely to be out of date and dangerous if followed. For instance, following a Tom Tom in the centre of Marseille could take you across newly installed pedestrian areas or Tram lines. The one-way system has also completely changed.
Be careful of rogue taxi drivers. While there aren't many, there are a few and a €20 ride can quickly become a €40 ride. If you think you've been cheated get the taxi driver's number (located in the rear of the car, often on the window) and go to the Tourist's Office at 4, La Canebière (near Le Vieux Port) and speak to a representative, they can and will get your money back if you've been ripped off. They will also get the taxi driver in significant trouble.
Marseille has the excellent le vélo cycle hire scheme in place as well as plenty of cycle paths, this makes it possible to get round the city quickly and very reasonably but be warned that the velo stations lock at midnight so if you don't return your bicycle before then you will need to pay for an extra day. It costs 1 euro for a week's subscription. Each time you hire a bike, the first 30 minutes are free, then each hour costs 1 euro. Note that there is a 150 euros deposit which will be charged if you don't return the bike properly.
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Let's be honest, beaches in Marseille are not always great. Moreover depending on the weather, they can be rather 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).
- Bouillabaisse is the most famous seafood dish of Marseille. It is a fish stew containing at least three varieties of very fresh local fish: typically red rascasse (Scorpaena scrofa); sea robin (fr: grondin); and European conger (fr: congre). It can include gilt-head bream (fr: dorade); turbot; monkfish (fr: lotte or baudroie);mullet; or silver hake (fr: merlan), and it usually includes shellfish and other seafood such as sea urchins (fr: oursins), mussels (fr: moules); velvet crabs (fr:étrilles); spider crab (fr: araignées de mer), plus potatoes and vegetables. In the traditional version, the fish is served on a platter separate from the broth. The broth is served with rouille, a mayonnaise made with egg yolk, olive oil, red bell pepper, saffron, and garlic, spread on pieces of toasted bread, or croûtes. In Marseille, bouillabaisse is rarely made for fewer than ten people; the more people who share the meal, and the more different fish that are included, the better the bouillabaisse.
- Aïoli is a sauce made from raw garlic, lemon juice, eggs and olive oil, served with boiled fish, hard boiled eggs and cooked vegetables.
- Anchoïadeis a paste made from anchovies, garlic, and olive oil, spread on bread or served with raw vegetables.
- Bourrideis a soup made with white fish (monkfish, European sea bass, whiting, etc.) and aïoli.
- Fougasse is a flat Provençal bread, similar to the Italian focaccia. It is traditionally baked in a wood oven and sometimes filled with olives, cheese or anchovies.
- Navette de Marseille are, in the words of food writer M. F. K. Fisher, "little boat-shaped cookies, tough dough tasting vaguely of orange peel, smelling better than they are."
- Panisse is chickpea flour boiled into a thick mush, allowed to firm up, then cut into blocks and fried.
- Pastis is an alcoholic beverage made with aniseed and spice. It is extremely popular in the region
- Pieds paquets is a dish prepared from sheep's feet and offal.
- Pistou is a combination of crushed fresh basil and garlic with olive oil, similar to the Italian pesto. Soup au pistou combines pistou in a broth with pasta and vegetables. Tapenade is a paste made from chopped olives, capers, and olive oil (sometimes anchovies may be added).
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. In fact, Bouillabaisse is a 2 course meal: first you get soup from the pot, then you get the rest, i.e. fish.
La bouillabaisse cannot be enjoyed on the cheap. If you are invited to the home of someone making bouillabaisse, then you are in the clear. But never eat cheap bouillabaisse at a restaurant unless it's not called bouillabaisse; only eat it at a place where you have to reserve in advance.
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 la Mairie, 66 Quai du Port (on the Vieux Port on the right of the City Hall). A very popular spot for the long lunch break Marseille's worker are used to taking. Friendly service, good food and wine at a reasonable price. No English spoken whatsoever.
- (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 specialities. 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".
- La Boite à Sardine, 2 Boulevard de la Libération (m. Canebière Réformés), , e-mail: [email protected]. Unlike of it's name there is no canned fish in the menu there. A member ofGourméditerrannée association.
- 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), 0811 45 45 45. (aka Toinou Les Fruits de Mer) A local reference when it comes to seafood, especially famed for its oysters. Toinou also acts as a seafood and fresh fish vendor. Since 2013 they run it in a self-service format. This place is often packed.
- 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), . 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, . Lebanese restaurant with fixed-price three-course menus around 20-25 euros each.
- L'Epuisette, 156 rue du Vallon des Auffes. Its amazing location in the very picturesque Vallon des Auffes harbour is an undeniable plus. Seafood specialities and affordable bouillabaisse.
- Les Café des Epices, 4 Rue du Lacydon (their terrace is at the place Jules Verne, just W of Hôtel de Ville), . Good quality, modern twist, range of set menus.
- Le Glacier du Roi, 4 Place de Lenche, . Perhaps the best ice cream establishment in the city. Yet another member of Gourméditerrannée association.
- Chez Michel, 6 rue des Catalans (Bus 83, 81 and 54, stop Catalans), . for bouillabaisse and other sea food.
- Chez Fonfon, 140, Vallon des Auffes (Vallon des Auffes), , e-mail: [email protected]. sea food (again bouillabaisse), nice views.
- 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.
Sights & Landmarks
- 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.
- Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde, Rue Fort du Sanctuaire. 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.
- Abbey of Saint Victor, 3 Rue de l'Abbaye.
- L'Hotel de Ville. Marseille City Hall
- Le Panier. (which means basket in French) is a historical centre of the city.
- Marseille Cathedral, Place de la Major (at the Western side of Le Panierquarter). (aka Cathédrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure de Marseille or Cathédrale de la Major) is a national monument of France
- La Vieille Charité, 2 Rue de la Charité (at the Northern side of Le Panierquarter). is a wonderful old monument, a former charitable housing for poor, now hosting museums and exhibitions.
- Cours Belsunce.
- Place Castellane. with a grand fountain/column/sculpture in the center, with excellent cinemas and cafés surrounding. (NB: There is another place called La Castellane : it is a poor suburb of Marseille where Zinedine Zidane the famous football player was born).
- Cours Julien (metro stop Cours Julien/Notre Dame du Mont). is a hangout area with bookstores, cafés, fountains, and a playground for the small ones. It is a trendy area of Marseille.
- Place Jean Jaurès. 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.
- Noailles quarter (metro Noailles). Lined with Arabic and Indo-Chinese shops some of the streets could be part of a bazzaar in Algeria. A fascinating area.
- Palais Longchamp (metro "Cinq Avenues Longchamp", line 1; tram #2, stops "Longchamp" or "Cinq Avenues"). It houses the city's Musée des beaux-arts and Natural history museum. The surrounding park (the Parc Longchamp) is listed by the French Ministry of Culture as one of the Notable Gardens of France. The Boulevard Longchamp connects it with the city centre.
- Fort Saint-Jean, Parvis Saint Laurent (Walk West on the Northern quay of the Old Port until you hit the Fort). Open until 19:00. Fort Saint-Jean is a fortification at the North-Western end of the Old Port, built in 1660 by Louis XIV. The fort also hosts the Museum "Musée des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée", but the fortification itself is accessible to the public free of cost, and worth a visit. You can walk through the old fortifications, stroll through a small park, enjoy the view on the Old Port or on the sea, or walk over the free-hanging bridges to the museum or the Church Saint-Laurent. The Fort also offers a 10min video show about the history of Marseille and the Fort. free entrance.
Museums and places of interest
- Musée des civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée (MuCEM). a recently open museum ; the first French 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.
- Musée des Docks Romains, 10 Place Vivaux, . Built to preserve the archeological finds at the former warehouses of the old harbour from Phoenician and Roman times
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Unité d'Habitation. Designed by Le Corbusier, and one of 17 of his buildings to be listed as a world heritage site. 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.
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)
Museums & Galleries
- The Marseille History Museum (Musée d'Histoire de Marseille), devoted to the history of the town, located in the Centre Bourse. It contains remains of the Greek, and Roman history of Marseille as well as the best preserved hull of a 6th-century boat in the world. Ancient remains from the Hellenic port are displayed in the adjacent archeological gardens, the Jardin des Vestiges.
- The Musée Cantini, a museum of modern art near the Palais de Justice. It houses artworks associated with Marseille as well as several works by Picasso.
- The Musée des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée (MuCEM) and the Villa Méditerranée were inaugurated in 2013. The MuCEM is devoted to the history and culture of European and Mediterranean civilisations. The adjacent Villa Méditerranée, an international centre for cultural and artistic interchange, is partially constructed underwater. The site is linked by footbridges to the Fort Saint-Jean and to the Panier.
- The Musée des Docks Romains preserves in situ the remains of Roman commercial warehouses, and has a small collection of objects, dating from the Greek period to the Middle Ages, that were uncovered on the site or retrieved from shipwrecks.
- The Musée du Vieux Marseille, housed in the 16th-century Maison Diamantée, describing everyday life in Marseille from the 18th century onwards.
- The Musée Regards de Provence, opened in 2013, is located between the Cathedral and the Fort Saint-Jean. It occupies a converted port building constructed in 1945 to monitor and control potential sea-borne health hazards, in particular epidemics. It now houses a permanent collection of historical artworks from Provence as well as temporary exhibitions.
- The Musée Grobet-Labadié, opposite the Palais Longchamp, houses an exceptional collection of European objets d'art and old musical instruments.
- The 19th-century Palais Longchamp, designed by Esperandieu, is located in the Parc Longchamp. Built on a grand scale, this italianate colonnaded building rises up behind a vast monumental fountain with cascading waterfalls. The jeux d'eau marks and masks the entry point of the Canal de Provence into Marseille. Its two wings house the Musée des beaux-arts de Marseille (a fine arts museum), and the Natural History Museum (Muséum d'histoire naturelle de Marseille).
- The Château Borély is located in the Parc Borély, a park off the Bay of Marseille with the Jardin botanique E.M. Heckel, a botanical garden. The Museum of the Decorative Arts, Fashion and Ceramics opened in the renovated château in June 2013.
- The Musée d’Art Contemporain de Marseille(MAC), a museum of contemporary art, opened in 1994. It is devoted to American and European art from the 1960s to the present day.
- The Musée du Terroir Marseillais in Château-Gombert, devoted to Provençal crafts and traditions.
Things to do
You can visit the fabulous restaurants and cafes. You can go and do many adventurous things such as diving and hiring boats! Thecalanques (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!
Festivals and events
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.
In recent years lots of new places have opened in Marseille, at night, three main districts are interesting (besides beaches between april and october where people go and spend the night), the Old Port with lots of bars and pubs (particularly on the southern side and on Cours d'Estienne d'Orves, La Plaine/Cours Julien with numerous alternative and underground bars, and La Joliette/J4 with trendy chic new bars and clubs. However La Friche should not be forgotten, particularly during summer when the very large rooftop hosts dj parties for free every friday and saturday. For events and concert agenda, see La Nuit Magazine or printed paper Ventilo, particularly during summer as lots of music festivals, boat parties (mini-cruises at night with djs in the Calanques for €20-40), rooftop parties and concerts take places.
- O'Brady's Irish Pub, 378, avenue de Mazargues, . Sun 12PM–1:30AM; Mon-Sat 11–1:30AM.
- Shamrock Irish Pub, 17, quai de Rive-Neuve, .
- Red Lion: small English pub at Notre dame du mont.
- Red Lion(same name): famous and reknown English pub at La Pointe Rouge, southern Marseille, next to the beach.
- Polikarpov, 24 Cours Honoré d'Estienne d'Orves, . Lively and good value late bar with outside terrace. Does a wide range of cocktails and one of the cheaper places for beer.
- Le Marengo, 45 Rue Sainte-françoise, . In "Le Panier", a nice terrace with a nice atmosphere
- E-wine: on Le Cours Julien, small bar with terrace where some local house and techno djs play.
- Bar des 13 Coins, . Next to the Old Port, small bar with terrace which offers a huge number of cocktails for 5€.
- le Petit Nice: on La Plaine next to the Cours Julien, nice little cafe.
- Le Barberousse: between the Vieux-Port and l'Opéra, rhum-specialised bar with pirates and boat decoration.
- Play Bar: small gay bar between the Vieux-Port and Notre Dame de la Garde, rue Breteuil.
- Le Trolleybus, 24 quai de Rive Neuve, . 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 hit music, another room plays underground techno and house music (room led by La Dame Noir records) , and the last room plays jazzy and 50-60s music. 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 6AM. 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 Baby, 90 Boulevard Rabatau, . The best electronic music club in Marseille. 5€ in advance or 10 with a drink.
- Le Mystik, 141 route Léon Lachamp, . 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, . 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.
- Le Palais de la Major, Boulevard du littoral. Recently opened restaurant and club under the Major cathedral, the place hosts live bands from Corsica playing French and international hits. The place is luxurious and beautiful people fit in.
Safety in Marseille
Since many years, muggings and pickpockets have dramatically decreased in the city center, however, avoid carrying valuables and watch your surroundings, like in most cities. Most of the northern neighbourhoods(quartiers nord), except L'Estaque and Château-Gombert, might be risky and should be avoided by tourists, however there is no logical reason for going there.
The area around Boulevard Michelet teems with prostitutes and should be avoided on soccer nights, as you can meet potentially angry and drunk Olympique de Marseille hooligans.
All that said, overall, the city is fairly safe.