There are cities whose name alone is enough to warm the heart. We have to say that Marseille's sunny weather isn't just the stuff of legends. Nor is its football club, its pastis or its bouillabaisse either. However, in addition to these warm-hearted clichés, the Phocaean city has much more to offer. Marseille is no longer just a city for business trips.
The megalopolis has actually been chosen as the 2013 European Capital of Culture and will be a host city for the 2016 European Football Championship. In order to celebrate these events with the dignity they are worthy of, Marseille has cleaned itself up and improved its streets. As evidence, part of the Old Port has been pedestrianised, a number of new hotels have popped up and a huge national museum is scheduled to be opened.
But even without these new additions, Marseille can still count on its age-old assets: an adorable old port, a neighbourhood in the Panier district that is ideal for strolling around in, lively café terraces, beautiful rocky inlets, beaches close-by, a vibrant nightlife in a trendy district, etc.
It's easy to bet that we'll be hearing a lot about Marseilles over the next few years and that it will finally be taken more seriously by the rest of France, after having been considered as merely a port-side city all these years.
Take a car, train, scooter or use your feet to get to the top of the hill where Notre Dame de la Garde stands proud. In addition to the 360° views over the city, you can admire the interior and particularly the choir of what the local inhabitants also commonly refer to as 'la bonne mère' ('the good mother').
Getting lost in the maze of streets of the Panier district.
Trying out the bars, cafes and restaurants in the trendy district of Cour Julien.
Strolling along the Old Port while keeping in mind that the area is ultra-touristy and that the prices are quite hefty compared to the other districts.
Visiting the famous Vélodrome stadium, whether you are a fan of football or not. Football in Marseille is more than just a sport, it is a way of life.
If you find you already love the view of the small port of Vallon des Auffes from Corniche, we recommend you go down the steps to get an even better look.
More famous for its rocky inlets than for its works of art, the city nevertheless has a strong cultural offering thanks to the many museums that fill its streets. Don't pass up the chance to visit the Museum of Civilisations from Europe and the Mediterranean, the first national museum to open outside of the capital.
In addition to your bathing suit, remember to bring a windcheater (and a jumper): the mistral can be dreadful.
If you are planning on hiring a vehicle on the spot, consider a scooter instead of a car. It will be a lot less expensive and also a much more convenient way to get around Marseille.
As in any large city, avoid displaying your valuables, which includes your camera. Also, we recommend you ask for permission before taking photos of strangers.
Don't leave without having tried the 'navettes'; biscuits in the shape of a boat. There is also an overwhelming choice of pastries here, with various specialities that come from neighbouring cities, like the 'calissons' (an almond paste) of Aix-en-Provence.
In addition to the famous bouillabaisse (which we don't recommend trying just anywhere), Marseille specialises in pizza!
A large (or small) bar of real 'Savon de Marseille'.
One (or more) bottles of pastis.
An Olympic de Marseille team shirt (or any other item with the team's logo), unless you are a supporter of the opposing team!
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