A History Spanning Millennia
Marseille, the cosmopolitan heart of Provence, is a city of timeless charm. Founded in 600 BC by the Greeks from Phocaea as a trading post, it is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Its rich history is evident in its vibrant streets, with influences ranging from the Romans to the Renaissance, right through to the modern era.
Gateway to the Mediterranean
Known as the ‘Gateway to the Mediterranean’, Marseille is France’s largest port city. The Old Port, or ‘Vieux Port’, remains a vibrant hub of activity, with fishermen selling their daily catch alongside luxurious yachts docked in the marina. This nautical heart of the city symbolizes Marseille’s enduring relationship with the sea.
A City of Contrasts
Marseille’s charm lies in its contrasts. The city seamlessly marries the old and the new, from the historic Le Panier district with its quaint, narrow streets, to the sleek lines of the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (MuCEM). The cityscape is dominated by the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, affectionately known as ‘La Bonne Mère’, perched atop a hill overlooking the city, offering stunning panoramic views.
Cultural Melting Pot
Marseille is a melting pot of cultures, reflecting its history as a major center for immigration. The diverse population contributes to a lively and unique cultural scene, from music and arts to cuisine. The city is also known for its love of football, with the local team, Olympique de Marseille, boasting a passionate fan base.
Just a stone’s throw from the city are the Calanques – a stunning national park featuring a dramatic coastline, azure waters, and rugged cliffs. Whether you choose to hike, kayak, or take a boat tour, the Calanques offer a welcome escape from the bustle of the city.
Marseille’s gastronomic scene is as diverse as its population. It’s famous for Bouillabaisse, a traditional Provençal fish stew, but you can also find North African, Armenian, Italian influences and more. Local markets brimming with fresh produce, bustling cafes, and world-class restaurants all invite you to taste the flavors of Marseille.
An Ever-evolving City
While Marseille has embraced its past, it is not stuck in it. The city is constantly evolving, balancing respect for its history with a drive for innovation. This is evident in the ongoing regeneration of the city’s districts, its hosting of major cultural events, and its recognition as the European Capital of Culture in 2013.
Experience the charm, culture, and warm hospitality of Marseille for yourself, and discover why it’s considered one of France’s most vibrant cities.