The city of Marseille is the oldest in France and the second largest after Paris. This urban center has a reputation for authenticity and unpretentious hospitality. The streets and hot spots of Marseille are hip and European with a discernable North African flair and this fusion of cultures has given rise to some of the combined traditions that Marseille is now able to claim as its own. Bouillabaisse, for example, is neither strictly African nor Provencal but a distinctive creation of Marseille. Like the cuisine, the local market bazaars and regional music here give off a flavor that seems unique to this melting pot city.
Enjoy the charming shopping, dining, live music venues and popular attractions of Marseille. But don't ignore the beauty of the natural landscape here. Marseille is a place of irresistible urban energy surrounded by coves, rocky inlets and tranquil golden beaches. This is an excellent place to swim, snorkel, go boating or explore the tide pools along the coast.
Here are a few additional suggestions as you plan your trip:
- Visit the Basilique de Notre Dame de la Garde: For centuries, this hilltop cathedral has stood as a fortress, protecting the city below.
- Go scuba diving: The reefs and underwater habitats around Marseille are great places to encounter a variety of colorful fish and other marine life.
- Visit the L' Hotel De Ville: Marseille's town hall building was constructed in 1656 and has provided a meeting place for the city council since that time. The building now houses the offices of the mayor and municipal councilors.
- See the Chateau d'If: On a small island just off the coast, a chateau was built in the 16th century. The structure later became the famous prison that held the Count of Monte Cristo.
- Explore the Musee d'Histoire de Marseille: Wander the exhibits of this fascinating museum and learn more about the history and culture of Marseille.
- Spend an afternoon in the Palais et Parc Longchamp: Relax and rest your feet among the impressive colonnades and statuary of this lovely green park in the center of the busy downtown area.
You'll never run out of exiting new cultural experiences and fun things to do in Marseille. And no matter what season of the year you chose to schedule your trip, you won't have any trouble finding a perfect place to stay while you're here. There are plenty of vacation rental opportunities in the heart of the city, close to the museums and nightlife. You can also easily find an elegant condo or luxury villa with beautiful views of the ocean. While you're visiting Marseille, consider taking a short trip to the beautiful nearby towns of Toulon and Aix-en-Provence.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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