“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world” – Freya Stark
Just like the many ports around the world, Marseille for a long time has had a reputation for crime and seediness. Even today, there’s a hint of scruffiness about the city, which is not a bad thing. It helps lend a rakish character to Marseille and gives it an intoxicating color and dynamism.
These things can be seen in certain neighborhoods like the Noailles, La Paine, Le Panier, and their markets, shops, and cafes. Since 600 BC, the Old Port has been in use. In case you’re interested in traveling back through time then book tickets and get inspired by the great age of France’s oldest city where there’s a wonderful choice of exquisite museums.
Now let us explore the 5 best places to visit in Marseille…
1. Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde
This monument rises above the skyline to the south of the Old Port and makes it hard for people to miss it.
It’s a 19th-century neo-Byzantine church standing 150 meters above the water. It has a large golden statue of the Virgin and Child at the top of its tower for the purpose of watching over Marseille’s maritime communities.
For many centuries, there had been many watch towers and religious sanctuaries on La Garde. The basilica is known to incorporate the lower levels of a renaissance fort which also consists of a chapel.
Don’t take the climb lightly in the summer. There’s a tourist train which departs regularly from the Old Port.
2. Old Port
The massive rectangular port in Marseille has been trading for over 2,600 years, and is not just a single sight, but more of a whole district.
Enclosed mostly 18th-century former warehouses, on the three sides are the quays with broad promenades.
It sometimes seems as if almost every one of these has either a fish restaurant, cafe, or bar on its ground floor along with an outdoor seating, so as you nurse a pastis, you can see life in this enchanting city unfold.
Industry has long moved the modern docks to the north. Also, most of the boats in the old port are for pleasure.
3. Calanques National Park
In Marseille, you’ll find the southern and eastern suburbs. These beautiful suburbs brush up against an area which holds exceptional natural beauty.
The Calanques are known as craggy white limestone creeks and cliffs which reaches gargantuan heights. Following that it sharply descends to the sea.
These rocky wonders can be experienced either by land or by sea.
In case you’ve decided to hike, you will be needing an intrepid spirit. This can be the GR 98 from Marseille to Cassis which takes around 11 hours. It can then lead you into some tough country.
Ah, of course the beautiful scenery will make up for the exertion.
You’ll also find here mini-cruises departing from the Old Port, as well as specialized guided kayaking adventures.
4. La Corniche
La Corniche is a long balcony next to the Mediterranean Sea which is known to weave down the coast for several kilometers, starting from the Old Port and going past the quirky little neighborhoods and beaches.
You can either drive or take a walk. Either way it’s just as rewarding to walk for the sea air, the towers of the Château d’If, and the outstanding vistas of the Frioul Archipelago in the bay.
Among the most striking sights found here is the Vallon des Auffes. It is a traditional fishing harbor based on a steep inlet that is ringed with ramshackle old huts, and entered from beneath the arches in the sea that support the road.
5. Musée d’Histoire de Marseille
I know it’s difficult to wrap your head around the 26 centuries of history in Marseille, but this first-rate museum based near the Old Port will certainly help.
It’s the largest urban history museum in France due to the huge time-span that this attraction deals with.
Especially for history geeks it means that they can spend half a day inspecting ceramics, amphorae, the remains of ancient ships, architectural fragments, sarcophagi, mosaics, and much more.
Along with these, they can also look through the heap of artifact up to the 20th century from the Ancient Greeks. There are models and maps which illustrate Marseille in all phases of history. This building joins onto a set of archaeological site which contains a necropolis, ramparts, and port buildings.
Once you get to Marseille, you’ll see that it is not just some port city, but so much more. It will give you a feeling of bliss like no other city. So pack your bags and get on the flight now!
Which of these places is your most desired vacation spot? Let us know in the comments.