Marseilles is Europe's last major metropolis before Africa. It's a multicultural city full of contrasts, where every neighbourhood is a little piece of a grand urban and maritime history.
Unpack your bags and head straight to La Canebière, the shopping street renowned for its lively atmosphere by day and by night, to meet the locals, then head for the Vieux-Port (Old Port). There you can sample fried fish or a classic bouillabaisse while watching the buzzing fish market on the Quai de la Fraternité. Look up and admire the Notre-Dame de la Garde church, delightfully known by the nickname "la Bonne Mère" (the Good Mother). Having loomed over Marseilles for eight centuries, it seems to protect the city.
Continue your visit by strolling from one historic neighbourhood to another. Walking along the streets of the famous Panier area, you can't help but be tempted by the perfumed soaps, rare oils or colourful fabrics.
Along the seafront, you can walk along the Mediterranean via the port or the corniche up to l'Estaque, a traditional fishing village immortalised by Cézanne and Renoir. More sporty types can put on their trainers and head for the Calanques, the steep-walled inlets extending over 12 miles of coastline between Marseilles and Cassis.
Whether you're an art lover or simply curious, you'll find folk art treasures in the superb setting of the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, MUCEM, which opened in 2013. Unless you'd rather explore the 800 works housed in the museum of contemporary art, or learn all about the history of the French national anthem at the Mémorial de la Marseillaise. You'll be spoiled for choice and this diversity, which is part of Marseilles' charm, means there is always something new!
Marseilles is served by Saint-Charles station and Marseilles Provence airport, and can be reached by car via the A7-A51, A55 and A50 motorways.
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