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The city of Marseille has been France’s most important shipping hub for centuries, but it’s far more than your usual port town. While it’s never going to compete with Cannes or St Tropez for prettiness, modern Marseille is a vibrant, cosmopolitan place, with some brilliant museums, a lively music and creative scene, and, of course, that excellent Provençal cuisine.
Book a hire car in Marseille and you’ll be perfectly positioned for exploring one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines. It’s an ideal staging post for trips to cities like Montpellier, Nice and Avignon (two hours, an hour and two hours away, respectively).
Marseille has its own transit hub, the conveniently located Marseille Provence Airport. It sits a little north of the city – pick up your rental car here and you can be cruising the seafront boulevards within 30 minutes, with good traffic.
Book your rental car in Marseille and choose from a range of trusted and reliable providers, including Europcar, Goldcar Rental, Hertz and many more.
Marseille’s big draw is the Vieux Port (Old Port) district. The area’s southern quay is bursting with charming waterfront spots where you can have a drink, a bite to eat or both, while the port itself is guarded by Fort St Nicolas and Fort St Jerome, two 13th century castles you can explore for yourself.
Fort St Jean sits next to the Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée. Inside, exhibitions examine the history and culture of the Mediterranean, through ancient artefacts, paintings and writings. There’s also modern installations: recent showcases of Jean Genet and Picasso proved to be highly popular.
While you’re in this beautiful region, it makes sense to make the trip out to some of the other cities. Hop in your hire car and head to Toulouse, about three and a half hours east on the A9 and A61. The Pink City has plenty to keep visitors entertained, from the architecture itself (all rambling streets clad from rose-coloured clay) to Cite de l’Espace, France’s largest space museum and a fascinating place to spend a day.
Don’t forget the beaches either – the Provençal coast offers many of the best in Europe. Some of the finest are found in Parc National Des Calanques, a lush nature reserve just 35 minutes south of Marseille.
Driving in Marseille is much like the rest of the France: drive on the right, keep an eye out for speed limits and you’ll be fine. If you have a satnav, make sure you switch speed camera alerts off. France has outlawed these alerts, and you could receive a €1,500 fine or have you vehicle confiscated if you’re caught using them.
Itching to get going on your own Marseille or France adventure? Use this Marseille city guide and the Expedia search tool to find the best deals on flight and hotels, and to discover all the best sights.
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