Marseille Things to Do Tips by Tom_Fields
Marseille Things to Do: 405 reviews and 800 photos
The Old Port, with Fort Saint Jean
Le Vieux Port, or Old Port, is where Marseille was founded. This natural U-shaped harbor is large enough only for small fishing and pleasure craft--not for the huge sea-going container ships, which use the much larger harbor just to the west.
Around the Old Port are the fortresses of Saint Nicholas and Saint Jean. They served a dual purpose--both to defend the port and to maintain control over the often-restive civil population of this city.
Also along the Old Port are some fine examples of French architecture, such as l'Hotel de Ville (the City Hall), the medieval churches, and le Chateau de Pharon (not open to the public). If you're hungry, you won't find better seafood than here. The local specialty is bouillabaisse, a delectable seafood soup. Look out for the bones.
Directions: In the heart of the city.
La Musee des docks Romains
This small museum near the Old Port chronicles the very ancient history of this city. Here are artifacts left by Greek and Roman inhabitants and visitors thousands of years ago. Amphoras, used to transport wine, are on display along with pottery and remnants of ancient galley ships.
Directions: On the western side of the Old Port, near City Hall.
La Palais de Longchamps
Not a true palace, this fine structure houses two museums, very pleasant gardens, and a few remnants of ancient Marseille. Designed by Esperandieu (who also designed Notre Dame de la Garde).
Address: 13004 Marseille
Directions: At the north end of la Canebiere. Points of contact are for la Musee des Beaux-arts, inside the palace.
Phone: 04 91 14 59 30
This is the main street of Marseille, the place to be. Lined with the city's finest shops, many good restaurants, and a number of hotels, this is to Marseille what the famed Champs Elysees is to Paris.
Directions: In the heart of the city, running along the eastern side of the Old Port, up to l'Eglise de Saint Vincent-de-Paul. It's roughly a kilometer long.
Boats travel out to the Frioul Islands
From the Old Port, one can catch a boat out to the Frioul Islands, an archipelago just off the coastline. The Chateau d'If is the most famed attraction here. Built by King Francois I in the 16th century, its main purpose was to help keep control over the city. The fort is also the setting for The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas' 19th century novel.
Also, be sure to visit the other islands here. They offer some sandy beaches and excellent views of the city.
Directions: Accessible by tour boat, which leave the Quai des Belges (dock of the Belgians) at the Old Port. Departures are hourly, from 9:00 to 5:00 (last return boat is at 6:50 pm).
Notre Dame de la Garde
Notre Dame de la Garde is a seafarers' church, with models of ships hanging from the ceiling. Built in the 19th century, it was designed by Esperandieu (Hope in God), who was ironically a Protestant.
It has a mix of architectural styles, as befitting a cathedral in this city of mixed heritage and traditions. No mere carbon copy of the other cathedrals in France, this one is a unique piece of work. The inside is stunningly beautiful, and the front terrace offers some of the best views of the city.
Directions: On the eastern side of the Old Port, overlooking the city from a high hill (you can't miss it).
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