Known to the Greeks and Romans as Massalia, the thriving port town of Marseille has come a long way from its ancient roots, and is now renowned as one of the most lively, culturally diverse and cutting-edge cities not only in France but also in Europe. All of this combines to make a Marseille holiday an exciting prospect for every type of traveller. France’s second-largest city and an important southern-trading gateway, Marseille is a melting pot of cultures thanks to large waves of immigration from Italy and Greece in the 19th century and former French colonies, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, in the 20th century. All these influences have given it a unique culture and cuisine.
While profoundly French in many ways – it’s the home of France’s anthem, ‘La Marseillaise’ – the city is also renowned for its alternative outlook, as famous now for hip-hop acts and Le Corbusier architecture as it is stunning beaches and fantastic seafood. There’s also plenty of sightseeing to do, with a wealth of museums and galleries, the historic Vieux Port, various forts, offshore islands, a famous basilica and a cathedral. Previously both the European Capital of Culture and the European Capital of Sport, holidays to Marseille will introduce you to a dynamic, ever-changing city that has a certain unique ‘je ne sais quoi’.
Marseille is famous for its art galleries, including the sprawling Musée d’Art Contemporain (MAC), Galerie Detaille and Musée Cantini, with many more cultural spaces around the city.
Notre-Dame de la Garde
The city’s most symbolic building attracts huge numbers of pilgrims each year thanks to its religious significance, but also its stunning panoramic views of Marseille.
Massif des Calanques
A 20-kilometre stretch of white cliffs and bays between Marseille and Cassis makes for an excellent day trip for nature lovers. Consider hiring a car and plan your route in advance.