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About Marseille

French Riviera, France

Without doubt one of the most cosmopolitan cities in France, Marseille represents everything which is interesting about France and its cultural heritage. Lying to the southern extreme of the French Riviera, the city has a population of over 800,000 inhabitants and is the second largest in France. Marseille is also the capital of the Provence-Alpes Côte d’Azur region of France, though the majority of its occupants have their origins outside France with over a third of the population being able to trace their roots back to Italy. Marseille also has one of France’s largest communities of Maghrebis, Turks, Armenian, Chinese and Vietnamese. 2013 sees Marseille being the European Capital of Culture and as a seaside port; the city is also associated with trading with North African countries including Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

A short history of Marseille

It is believed that the area around Marseille has been inhabited for over 30,000 years, though the city was originally founded as the port of Massalia by the Greeks in 600BC. At the turn of the first millennium the city was ruled over by the Romans, though power was ceded to the Visigoths soon after, before becoming an even more important trading port in the 10th century when the city was under the rule of the counts of Provence. During the 18th century the port became further fortified as it grew in importance as a military port in the Mediterranean, while the nineteenth century saw the beginning of industrialism, while the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 saw Marseille become an even more important trading port. The city was occupied during WWII by the invading German forces, though it was also attacked by the Italians in 1940, however it was the independence of Algeria in 1962 that saw over 150,000 immigrants move to France via Marseille, which has seen over 1 million immigrants come through the port over the years.

tourist attractions in Marseille

It is hardly surprising Marseille is to be the European Capital of Culture in 2013 as the city has over 20 museums five art galleries, forty theatres and an opera house to choose from, the opera house also being home to the Ballet National de Marseille. Over four million people visit Marseille during the year, around a million of these coming from the cruise line industry which has expanded dramatically from within Marseille owing to the popularity of Mediterranean cruises. The city itself is a wonder of varying architectural styles and exceptional buildings which reveal a great deal about Marseille’s past includethe Phare de Sainte Marie lighthouse at the entrance to the port, the Abbey of St Victor which is one of the oldest places of Christian worship in Europe and the Baroque style Hôtel de Ville in the city centre.

festivals and events in Marseille

Aside from the number of special art exhibitions held in galleries throughout Marseille, music is a recurring theme for many festivals in the city, particularly with the Fête de la Musique which is held in June, while Marsatac, the techno music festival, is held in September. October is the month for the Fiesta des Suds, which offers a variety of worldwide music concerts. June and July are the months when the annual Marseille Festival takes place, which is a combination of carnivals, concerts and dance events. 2013 will also see the inauguration of Cinema Under the Stars where there will be ten giant outdoor cinema screens throughout Marseille which will show many of the films shown earlier in the year at the Cannes Film Festival.

GASTRONOMY in Marseille

From the point of view of food, Marseille is difficult to beat bearing in mind the abundance of international foods available. However, it is also a Mediterranean port and part of Provence, so from a local point of view, the regional influences stand out with bouillabaisse being a dish most closely associated with Marseille. Navettes de Marseille are a small boat shaped biscuit flavoured with orange blossom, while Fougasse is a popular local bread baked with olives. The Vieux Port is probably one of the most popular places to visit as far as food is concerned with the quay side lined with cafes and restaurants and the Quai des Belges popular for the number of fresh fish stalls.

recommended restaurants in Marseille
Une Table au Sud 2 quai du Port - 13002 Marseille
Phone: +33 4 91 90 63 53
Le Goût des choses 4 Place Notre-Dame du Mont -13006 Marseille
Phone: +33 4 91 48 70 62
Restaurant LMB Marseille 43 quai des Belges 1300
Phone: +33 4 91 55 67 46
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villa rentals in the Marseille area
The Frogs House

Looking for an unforgettable experience in a typical French village, 15km from Nice and the French Riviera ? Come to enjoy our 7 cosy bedrooms with views to the sea and over the surrounding hills.

  • Villa Belmonte "Villa Belmont" is a brand new luxury villa in the beautiful old village of Biot in the South of France.
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