>> Marseilles <<

Introduction

Marseille, on the Southern French Cote D'Azur, is a thriving port city with plenty of sunshine year round. Great food, wine, pastis, windsurfing and a game of pétanque await visitors to this hot blooded and vibrant city first associated with the Greeks in the 6th century B.C.
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What to See


Notre Dame de la Garde
View of Marseille
The Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde atop the city overlooks Marseille in its entirety. The Basilica is most notable for its huge dome and massive golden Virgin. If you look carefully at the walls you may be able to spot the bullet holes, a souvenir of the conflict here from the Second World War.

Vieux Port
The hustle and bustle of the old port is a favourite among locals and visitors to Marseille. The Vieux Port de Marseilles was established by the Greeks almost three thousand years ago. The port has always played an important economic role in the region. Demonstrating this are the bastions, built to help protect the port from attack or worse still invasion. Fort St-Jean and Fort St Nicholas overlook the port on the North and South entrances.

During the day, the port hosts a market where some of the best and freshest fish in Europe can be purchased. Alternatively, if fish markets aren't your thing, you can always sit back and enjoy a coffee or sirop while watching the passersby. The nightlife in the Old Port is also excellent, with plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes to accommodate a much larger urban population.

Chateau D'If
Chateau D If
This castle is just off the coast of Marseille and is famous for being the setting for the book and movie "The Count of Montecristo" written by Alexandre Dumas. The Chateau d'If used to serve as a place of incarceration for offenses as terrible as forgetting to remove your hat when in the presence of the king. Boats run regularly to the Chateau d'If from the Quai des Belges in the Vieux Port.

You can find out more on Chateau D'If by visiting www.monum.fr.

Cathedral de La Major
Cathedral de la Major
The Cathedral right next to the Mediterranean Sea was built in the 19th century and is located close to the Vieux-Port. It's intricate exterior, towering entrance and style make it a popular attraction/place of worship in Marseille.

Calanques
To the east of the centre, the Calanques offer a picturesque coastline where the locals go hiking, rock climbing, swimming, snorkeling and tanning. The little fishing village just before the road becomes too narrow to continue driving is especially quaint. It's also a good spot to park your car if you are driving. From there you can begin your walk. If you are planning on taking a long walk, bring plenty of water and sun tan lotion in summer as it will get very hot.

Longchamp Palace
Built in the mid 19th century, Longchamp Palace or Palais Longchamp serves as the entrance to the park behind of the same name. Also within the Palace is the Musee des Beaux-Arts. The Palace consists of a magnificent fountain and numerous sculptures including lions and bulls.

St Victor Abbey
Dating back to the 5th century, the Abbey was once used as part of the defences of Marseille and to this day remains an impressive edifice overlooking the coast . Visitors can visit the abbey daily where visits to the crypts, catacombs and nave are also available.

Le Panier
Le Panier is Marseille's oldest district. The area is characterised by narrow hilly streets in typical European fashion.


What to Do


Shopping
The biggest shopping area around Marseille is on Saint-Ferreol Street near the Old Port and the Cours Julien.

Go to the beach
There are several beaches along the coast of Marseille. Some are better than others so visit a few before deciding to lay your towels down. The most popular of these are the Plages des Catalans closest to the city centre and Plage du Prado.

Watersports
Watersports in Marseille
The coast of the city often has strong winds and is a world-renowned windsurfing destination. If you are a beginner and it is very windy, it may be best you wait until the 'Mistral' (what the wind is called) calms down as a broken windsurfer is a common occurrence.

You can also enjoy an afternoon sailing or sea kayaking. You can rent a windsurfer or sea kayak at the Pacific Palisades shop on Pointe Rouge.

Go Sailing
The old port and the surrounding area are popular sailing locations in the Mediterranean. You can go for a short day trip or spend several days at sea. Why not go to Corsica or Sardinia if you feel like it.

Spend the day in the Calanques
You can spend the day fishing, hiking, diving, snorkeling or tanning here. Bring plenty of water and suntan lotion as the sun is merciless in the summer here.

Shop at the Marché du Prado
This is where you'll find the best in Provençal food. Olives, patés, honey, fruit and vegetables are all in large supply here at good prices.

Visit Frioul
Port of Frioul
This island is a half hour boat ride away from the Vieux-Port. You can purchase tickets for the trip from the boat operators in the old port. While there you can find a spot to sit by the water to soak up the sun, walk across the island or have a drink or meal at one of the many restaurants in the port. The island is a good option for a day trip and occasionally has concerts in the summer.

Visit Aix-En-Provence
Just under a half hour drive out of Marseille, this city is full of beautiful fountains, laid back cafés and was once voted France's sexiest city.


What to Eat


Bouillabaisse
This soup, a poor man's meal in old times, consists of rockfish, squid, tomatoes and a variety of spices. Delicious and the city's baby. Do book ahead of time and state that you will be ordering a bouillabaisse.

Ailoli
Garlic, Garlic and more Garlic!

Beer
Enjoy a 33 Export or the popular Kronenbourg.

Ratatouille
A traditional vegetable stew, it is delicious and goes with just about anything.

Mechoui
An Arabic dish evidencing the city's North African community, it consists of slow cooked lamb or chicken served with couscous and vegetables. Delicious. Be careful with the Arissa, it's spicier than you think.

Rose
To be served cold, this Provencal wine will quench your thirst on hot summer days.

Tapenade
Tapenade is a paste that can be made from several different ingredients. Tapenade d'olives is probably the most popular type around but you can also find anchovies (anchoiade), aubergine, pistou and pesto tapenades. The additional ingredients are garlic, olive oil and anchovies.

Champagne
Named after the region in Northern France, Champagne is the standard drink to celebrate success.

Pastis
This aniseed alcohol, taken as an aperitif is not for all but is a traditional afternoon ritual in many circles. Why not join the locals at a small café, sit back and sip a nice Ricard or Pastis 51.

Foie Gras
This goose liver pate is a delicacy. Served with a well-chilled sweet Sauterne, it makes for a delicious entrée but be careful as it is quite expensive and heavy to digest.

Saucisson
A traditional dried French type of salami made from pork, beef, wild boar and virtually any other meat flavour you can think of. Terrific entrée for any meal and eaten with plenty of bread.

Cheese
The French are renowned for their cheeses and there are plenty of them to choose from. Camembert, Brie and Rochefort are but a few of them.


Where to Sleep


Hotels
You can find excellent hotels in Marseilles. Many of the main hotel sites will have listings for you in Marseilles. Find Hotels.

Hostels
There are loads of hostels and cheap accommodation around Marseille. Prices vary from hostel to hostel but are generally affordable. Search and book a hostel in Marseille.


How to Move


Airport
The airport in Marignane is located in the city's industrial zone so there isn't much to see around there. The journey from the airport to the city center takes about 30 minutes.

The national airline of France is Air France and you can find them at www.airfrance.com.

You can get more information on the airport in Marseilles by visiting - www.marseille.aeroport.fr.

Taxi
Best way from A to Z.

Bus and Métro
The public transportation system in Marseille is very good and will get you where you want to be at a very affordable price. You can find additional information on transport in Marseille at www.rtm.fr

Car
The best way around the South of France is definitely by car. Rental prices are affordable but gasoline isn't that cheap. Be careful though, the French tend to drive like they are in a race so don't try and compete with them, especially in the cities.

Eurostar
The Eurostar is a great way to get around France and to France's major cities like Paris or Nice, and onto London, Amsterdam and Brussels at high speed.

Train
The SNCF, the French Train body has extensive coverage of the country and is often the most economical and best way to get from one end of the country to the other. The main train station in Marseille is Gare St-Charles. Visit their web site at SNCF.com.


Locals


Warm blooded
The locals are hyper and talkative but when it comes to rushing them, they won't take it. For some reason they appear stressed out but in fact they are not.

Language
French

Time Zone
GMT +1

Currency
Euro

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