The old fort, at the entrance to the old port was built by Louis 14th in 1660. He is quoted as saying that “the inhabitants of Marseille are extremely fond of nice fortresses. We wanted to have our own at the entrance to this great port.” It was occupied by the Germans in World War II and then bombed during the liberation of Marseille. It remained in a shabby state until the government completely renovated it and it is now connected to the oldest district of Marseille, Le Panier and to the new MUCEM building by two bridges. The views are stunning and so are the overhead walkways.
Fort Saint-Jean, Prom. Louis Brauquier, Marseille, France
Château d’If is an old island fortress just off the coast of Marseille, opposite the MUCEM and Fort Saint-Jean. After it became useless as a military outpost, it was turned into a prison because the strong currents acted as a deterrent for potential escapees. It’s very small but well worth a visit, for its cultural significance alone. It was here that Alexandre Dumas, wrongly imprisoned his hero in his bestseller, The Count of Monte Cristo. Read our guide to the Château before you go.
Château d’If, Embarcadère Frioul If, 1 Quai de la Fraternité, Marseille, France +33 (0)6 03 06 25 26
The Saint Vincent de Paul Church is absolutely stunning but it can be easily overlooked. It sits on the top of the Canebière, the main thoroughfare that leads uphill from the Old Port. It’s not always the cleanest part of town and because it sits at a major tram and road intersection in Marseille, it’s noisy and chaotic. The building though is absolutely stunning, particularly when viewed from afar. It was built in a gothic style at the end of the 19th century.
Saint Vincent de Paul Church, 1 Rue Barbaroux, Marseille, France +33 (0)4 91 48 57 45
At the end of World War II, the city lacked affordable housing and good facilities for its people. They entrusted the famous French architect Corbusier with his vision of a “city within a city”. He spent months designing the perfect affordable housing unit that included flats, shops, schools, a doctors surgery and a restaurant. The apartments are now incredibly sought after but still staggeringly beautiful in their design concept. It’s technically a private complex but you can go up to the roof for the sea view at any time and they also run tours. Not to be missed. Check out our guide here.