Someone calls it the “Naples of France”: Marseille is a chaotic, noisy, lively and colorful city. At the port the fishmongers scream and among the alleys of the old town you need to keep your eyes peeled to avoid running into some petty thief. Since 2013, when it was proclaimed Capital of Culture, the city has been engaged in a vast redevelopment project and in recent times its tourist attractions are attracting more and more visitors. If you are also about to stay in the second largest city in France, here are the 5 places to visit in Marseille absolutely.
1. The Old Port
The Old Port is a must during a visit to Marseille: this is the most emblematic area of the city.
The scenario is this: the boats of fishermen returning, fishmongers selling freshly caught fish and a few cafes and restaurants where you can sit and watch life go by.
Here you can discover one of the most authentic faces of Marseille.
The port is located between two ancient fortresses: Fort Saint – Jean, once a prison, and Fort Saint – Nicholas.
In recent years the area has been redeveloped thanks to the contribution of the architect Norman Foster who has embellished it with his work miroir ombrière, a roof of mirrored stainless steel that allows you to discover glimpses of Marseille really special.
Do not miss a boat trip to admire the city from the sea.
2. The Panier District
Another of the places to visit in Marseille is Le Panier, the historic center and symbol of the city.
Narrow alleys, uphill streets, steep stairways, the same cloths, people shouting and ladies facing the balconies show all the liveliness of a city capable of preserving its roots.
If at one time walking in these parts could be anything but safe, today, thanks to the redevelopment projects of recent years, much has changed. So, among the maze of narrow streets of the district have begun to arise restaurants, studios, boutiques and many small stores.
One of the most fun ways to explore Le Panier and the Old Port is to join our food tour of Marseille. An experienced and passionate guide will accompany you on a tour of the most interesting places in the city and take you to the best places where you can taste the gastronomic specialties.
Hurry up and read the reasons why it is really worth participating in a food tour of Marseille: we are waiting for you!
3. La Vieille Charité
In the neighborhood of Le Panier is one of the most fascinating places in Marseille: the Vieille Charité, an old hospice recently renovated.
This complex was born in 1640 to house the poor of the city.
After having been transformed into barracks for a period of time and then left to decay and abandonment, in more recent times, thanks also to the intervention of Le Carbusier, today the Vieille Charité houses the Museum of African, Oceanic and Amerindian Arts (M.A.A.O.A), the International Poetry Center of Marseilles (C.I.P.M), the Cinémathèque Le Miroir and the Museum of Mediterranean Archaeology.
4. La Rive Neuve
Not far from the Old Port, in front of Le Panier district on the other side of the bay, there is another place to visit in Marseille, the Rive Neuve.
Despite the name may suggest otherwise, this area has very ancient origins. Until the fifteenth century it was an area of unhealthy marshes and, in later centuries, it was reclaimed to house arsenals and convicts.
Today it is one of the favorite meeting places of the Marseillais. Here you will find many small restaurants and bars where you can relax.
5. La Corniche
Finally, don’t miss a visit to La Corniche, a 5km long promenade that will allow you to observe magnificent views.
La Corniche was built in 1848 as a response to the city’s high unemployment: it employed about 8000 people for 15 years.
Today the road connects the Old Port with the Parc Balnéaire du Prado, an area where lawns, playgrounds and beaches alternate with each other.
During the walk you can admire some impressive and luxurious villas, but also some horror of concrete born in more recent times.
An unmissable stop is Vallon des Auffes, a small village where you can taste an excellent local fish soup.
We hope that our suggestions on places to visit in Marseille can be useful to you.
We look forward to accompanying you to discover the gastronomic tradition of the city!