Without fear of contradiction, I can say that this is one of the most beautiful cathedrals I've seen in my life. To get to it you have to be willing: the cathedral is at the top of a hill. There are buses that go up but we preferred to climb up by foot. It was worth it. The neo-Byzantine cathedral is crowned by a statue of the Virgin Mary which is visible from any point of the city. That virgin is 11 meters high, which when you see from below seems little, but it is not ... It's huge! And that´s just the outside of it! From inside you can see gorgeous gold and red colors. Entrance is free, and I would say that you pay just with the climb you need to make. It is far, but possibly the best of the city. There are some views where you can see all the corners of Marseille!
After taking a bus for a long time that took us away from the heart of Marseille, and led us to the university, we walked for an hour through paths surrounded by trees and between tiny mountains, up to one view that I will always remember. From the top of the trail, and after arriving at a small esplanade, the Mediterranean Sea, which was locked in part by land extensions protruding several meters above the ocean. Everything was stained green. The trees they managed to grow between the cracks. If you want to bathe in its virgin beaches, the charm increases because it is inaccessible corners where you can only access by boat or on foot after a long hike. Of course, a wonderful corner of the Riviera must visit.
The Vélodrome stadium is where the Olympique de Marseille football team play. The building dates back to 1933 but has undergone some remodelling. Today it is one of the most important soccer fields in France and has seen them crowned world champions during the 9 games played here.
This station was opened in 1848. Marseille Saint Charles is the main station. It is based on the model of the railway stations. It offers direct access to Paris by high speed train (TGV), which took over 15 million people in 2007 and arrives to Paris in about 3 hours time. The beautiful staircase leading from outside the station is a historical monument. It is decorated with impressive sculptures, that show that the station was previously the gateway to reach the port of Marseille and, therefore, to Africa and the Mediterranean by sea. Recently renovated, be sure to visit the station if you are ever passing by the city.
If Castle is on the eponymous island, in the middle of the bay of Marseilles. To visit, you have to take a boat from the old harbour pier. It takes about 20 minutes to get there, and about 45 back because it passes by the island of Friuli. It has been declared a National Monument and was built by Francis I to protect the coast. From 1580 to 1871 it was a prison for its strategic and impregnable position. It has three towers, most notably the Tower of San Cristobal, which stands at 22 meters. But what makes this castle world famous is the fact that Edmond Dantes, the Count of Monte Cristo, was imprisoned here. Dantes is a fictional character invented by Alexandre Dumas in 1844. It's hours are, April 4 to October 5 from 9.30-6.00; October 6 to April 3rd from 9.00-5.30. Entrance fee: € 5.
This former hospital is located in the Faro district of Marseille. It now houses the museum of Mediterranean archaeology, and the Museum of African, Australasian, and Indigenous Art. But originally, it was built to house beggars in the seventeenth century. Inside the courtyard is a chapel, with remarkable seventeenth century corinthian columns with the theme of Charity welcoming poor children.
I felt like I knew the Borly Park before I even arrived. It inevitably evokes childhood memories of the novels of Marcel Pagnol. Walking through the Borly Park, it felt familiar thanks to those books ... anyway, it's a very nice park, divided into two parts, with a French and English garden. People come here to relax, work out, or just enjoy the vast expanse of greenery in the heart of the city.
The Frioul Islands are an archipelago of four islands, the island of If, Pomegues, Ratonneau and Tiboulen, which are a few kilometers off the coast of Marseille, in the south of France. You can go visit them from the old port of Marseille, where boats leave several times a day, with different routes, some only do the same trip to and from one island, while others offer you a route between the four islands, with time at each one to visit and, of course, swim and relax. The Frioul archipelago is world famous thanks to Alexandre Dumas's novel, The Count of Monte Cristo. The Count was imprisoned on the island of If and he fought and escaped.
These islands aren't very built upon, very few people live there, most of the people who live there help take care of the historical monuments and the nature preserve. Some sellers come on a daily basis and offer drinks and cold food to tourists. There are isolated coves, beautiful beaches with water more pure than on the beaches of Marseille, and a lot of people from the city go out on their boats on Sundays to have a picnic on the islands. They've filmed several movies and music videos on the Frioul islands.
If you are in the city of Marseille, I recommend that you visit one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area, the Palais du Pharo. It's easy to find, in the garden of the same name. This palace was built under the rule of Luis Napoleon Bonaparte, for Empress Eugenie. It housed the Faculty of Medicine for many years, before being converted into a convention centre. An unforgettable visit.
The criée market in the old port of Marseille owes its name to its screamed fish prices. People in the south of France are famous for their temper, and they often had fights over fish, freshness, dubious origin and extortionate prices. It's still very quaint despite its location in the heart of a great city of 3 million inhabitants. Legend has it that a giant sardine port of Marseille blocks too. Fishermen go through the mouth of the harbor, Fort Saint Jean, to fish by the Calanques and at sea. You'll find various types of fish, which are prepared with a broth called Bouillabaisse traditional Provence. It can be tasted in the nearby restaurants and they have very good reputations for being quite. Marseille is a city that many people avoid, saying the rest of the Riviera's more beautiful, it is true for the scenery, but Marseille's history is more than 2600 years old, a history of port since the Phoenicians, Greek traders arrived to create it, and today remains a fabulous mix of Mediterranean cultures.
President John Fitzgerald Kennedy Corniche is a boulevard in Marseille by the beach. It offers some beautiful landscapes and magnificent sea views, as it runs along the sea for most of its length. It is 3 km long, and is the mark of "zero altitude" in France. It has appeared in several films, and overlooks a large viaduct of 17 metres. There are several restaurants along the way where you can enjoy traditional fish soup.
This small valley, hidden in the Corniche Kennedy, is very picturesque. You go down a staircase that leads almost directly to this small port, which is full of charm and colour. It looks like a tiny remote village of 200 people, but in fact, it's a neighbourhood in the heart of France's second largest city! A must see.
If you're in Marseille, you simply must visit this beautiful church, at the top of the Canebire. Going up this mythical avenue, you'll enjoy great views of this imposing monument ... the church appears from nowhere, right in the heart of the city. It has the appearance of being very large, as it stands on a hill, but it isn't really. It has interesting Gothic architecture, and in front you can see a statue of Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans. Highly recommended.
Have you got your tickets booked but still don't really know what to do in Marseille? Don't worry, with all the great attractions in Marseille, you'll have plenty of things to see during your trip! The Vieux Port is one of the first things to see in Marseille. The port is a symbol of the city, and not only because of its economic importance, but also for its importance in the daily lives of Marseille's citizens.
Another of the best things to do in Marseille is also located near the port: the Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica, one of the most photographed Marseilla attractions. Other popular places to visit in Marseille include the Cathedral and the Palais Longchamp, which now houses the Museum of Fine Arts.
Architecture fans will also find plenty of stuff to do in Marseille. The city is dotted with modern buildings by great architects like Norman Foster or Le Cobusiers.
Finally, one of the most memorable Marseille activities is exploring the beautiful coves, known locally as "Calanques," along the coast. These scenic coves are perfect for kayaking, snorkeling, or even hiking along the cliffs. But amid all this hectic sightseeing, just remember: Marseille is full of quiet, enchanting neighborhoods and narrow sun-washed streets, so remember to save some time to just explore and soak in the atmosphere of the French Riviera.