Experience The Blue Hour
There is a reason that painters have been coming to Provence for centuries; there is a very different light that you find here, that you don’t find anywhere else. When the sun rises and when it goes to bed, you’ll notice what Cézanne, Van Gogh and all the other great residents of the region noticed, The Blue Hour. It can be magical, particularly with a glass of wine in your hand and a sea view.
Eat Bouillabaisse, the Local Soup Delicacy
Hike Through One of France’s Natural Wonders
“Les Calanques” are a beautiful natural phenomenon on the coast surrounding both sides of Marseille. They are small inlets that have been made over the centuries and where people now hike down to the restaurants and beaches at the bottom. (You can’t always drive down because of overcrowding or risks of fire). People love the Calanque de Sormiou.
Have an Authentic Hammam Experience
Visit a City in a City
In the 1950s, Marseille was struggling to house everyone after World War Two and to provide all the amenities that people needed. Its solution was the Cité Radieuse – a housing complex that was a little city within a city. It was made from cement to keep the cost down. The architect was Corbusier and he became associated with a brutal style of architecture (“brut” is the French word for cement). This complex is a wonderful architectural experience, where you can wander the apartments, shops, restaurant, doctor’s surgery and cafe that you find inside. Head to the roof for an ultimate view of Marseille.
Attend a Cultural Event in a Tobacco Factory
Head to La Friche, a huge urban space at the side of the railway tracks. Every weekend you’ll find something different going on – a mega music festival, a DJ spinning tunes on the roof, an art workshop for kids, etc. There’s also a lovely restaurant, playground, skate park and book shop.
La Friche, 41 Rue Jobin, Marseille, France +33 (0)4 95 04 95 95
Scale a Bridge from the Old World to the New
The MUCEM is the new Museum of European and Mediterranean Culture. It’s a beautiful modern building with amazing art and a wonderful roof terrace. The best part is that there is a bridge that spans the road and leads into the very old (and beautifully restored) Fort St Jean, next door. It’s a great place to admire both old and new Marseille.
See Yourself Upside Down
One of the main attractions by the Old Port in Marseille (“le vieux port“) is an art installation that reflects 180 degrees. People spend ages looking at themselves upside down and it’s also great fun to watch the buskers and street artists. The fish market is here every morning at 8am. A great place to while away some holiday time and relax.
Go to the old port to see your reflection and that of the port in the 180 degree permanent mirrored glass installation | © Martin Fisch/Flickr
Experience African-French Cuisine
Imagine Being Locked Up for a Crime You Didn’t Commit
The old fortress island of Château d’If is tiny but because of the strong currents around it, it was used as a prison in the 1800s, just like Alcatraz in San Francisco. Author Alexandre Dumas used the prison as a backdrop to his fictional story, The Count of Monte Cristo, where his hero was unjustly locked up for years. He escapes, seeks revenge and becomes very rich. Visitors today have an easier journey; it’s just a short ferry ride from Marseille’s Old Port.
Château d’If, Embarcadère Frioul If, 1 Quai de la Fraternité, Marseille, France +33 (0)6 03 06 25 26