Marseille is the second largest city in France and also a birthplace of French national anthem. However, with many city competitors in French Riviera and Provence, Marseille does not get enough credit as a traveller destination. Therefore, we offer you 10 tips on what to do in and around Marseille for a remarkable trip to Provence.
Port of Marseille
Vieux Port (old port) is right in the heart of the Marseille and throughout the ages became a symbol of this city. Vieux Port is a beloved destination for both locals and travellers, because it allows you to stroll along the coast, have bouillabaisse in one of the restaurants or simply enjoying a relaxing evening. In fact, in 2013, when Marseille was a cultural European capital, Vieux Port gained an iconic art installation – huge mirrored ceiling. Currently, it differs Marseille Vieux Port from other ports along the Mediterranean coast.
Additionally, Marseille is an amazing destination for travellers who seek alternative holidays. In the city, you can find a unique district ‘Cours Julien’. It is a real French hub of alternative culture. The entire district is painted with artistic graffiti from local contributors and there are many hip bars or cafes. Moreover, if you are looking for antique stores, old books or stores of local designers, ‘Cours Julien’ is your must-visit place.
Calanques are a distinctive feature of Mediterranean Sea in Provence and at Epicwander we strongly recommend visiting them. In Marseille, you can simply take a city bus to the local business school and later on walk throughout the park until you reach the shore. The trip should take around 30minutes. Calanques are a picturesque location of the city and locals really enjoy spending their days on the shore there. Swimming in Calanques is not comparable to regular beach experience. You will feel like swimming along the caves.
Chateau d’If is an iconic literature destination of Marseille. This is an island fortress-prison mentioned in the famous Alexander Duma’s 1844 novel The Count of Monte Cristo. You can reach this island by a boat from the Vieux Port.
Church of Marseille
Notre-Dame de la Garde is one of the symbols of the city and a good observational point of the coast. Neo-Byzantine church gloriously overlooks an entire city. Also, the entire district around the church is very traditional and will take you back to the Provence-inspired movies.
Every local person in Marseille knows that the best place to shop for food is the market of Noailles. Moreover, if you visit the market early in the morning, you will definitely buy freshly caught fish and you can always make a visit to the market for the cheapest and freshest fruits from local farmers.
Palais Longchamp is one of the museums that are worth visiting because of its own architecture. Firstly, it was created to celebrate the construction of the Canal de Marseille and currently you can find only left wing of the museum open to the public. In this museum of fine arts you can find paintings, sculptures, and drawings from the 16th and 19th century, but most of the tourists head to this location in particular because of the architecture.
Cassis is a tiny commune located right next to the Marseille and it is a popular destination among tourists for cliffs and Calanques. In fact, it is one of the cities that are an example of French Riviera city in a Provence style. In fact, near Cassis, there are some winemakers and you can make a visit to one of the family wineries and of course buy the locally produced drink as a keepsake.
Aix-en-Provence is an authentic city-commune in the South of France, but due to its proximity to Marseille, it is often called as the richer district of the city. It is a preferred destination for travellers who seek authentic Provence atmosphere and at the same time would like to enjoy fine restaurants, cafes, and boulangeries. As a result, Aix-en-Provence makes a perfect day trip from Marseille. While there, look for Calisson’s, which is a local delicious candy.
However, if you are looking for a way to escape the crowds of travellers and experience Provence solely from local’s perspective, consider taking a trip to Aubagne. Aubagne is a small, undiscovered destination close to Marseille that beautifully centers up to the top of the mountain making the main church the architectural center of the city. The city is relatively small, so it is enough if you take half of the day for the trip.
Therefore, Provence is a very beautiful region of France and it is a perfect holiday destination for any season. Consider starting your trip from its biggest city Marseille. After fully exploring Marseille we would recommend you to travel around locally situated small villages and of course enjoy being in nature, for instance, swimming in Calanques.