Marseille is the second most populated city of France, the biggest Mediterranean port. Marseille has a complex history. It was founded by the Phoceans in 600 B.C. and is one of the oldest cities in Europe. The town is a far cry from the Cezanne paintings and Provencal cliches of sleepy villages, “pétanque” players and Marcel Pagnol novels.
The city’s main thoroughfare (the wide boulevard called the Canebière, map) stretches eastward from the Old Port to the Réformés quarter. The centre of Marseille has several pedestrianised zones, most notably Rue St Ferréol (map), Cours Julien (map) near the Music Conservatory, the Cours Honoré-d’Estienne-d’Orves (map) off the Old Port and the area around the Hôtel de Ville (map).
Le Panier (Marseille’s old town, map). The old town can be easily accessed from the Vieux Port. Le Panier (which means basket in French) is the historical centre of the city. This district is characterized by many narrow and steep streets.
Vieux Port (old harbour, map). Watching fishermen selling their stock by auction is a must. Arriving into Marseille in the Vieux-Port on a summer evening is something you will never forget. There is also a nice view on the harbour from the Palais du Pharo (Pharo Palace, map).
The Calanques (Parc national des Calanques, map). The Calanques are a series of miniature fjords to the south of Marseille near Cassis. The ‘fjords’ are amazing with wonderful blue sea and spectacular lime stone cliffs. The walk along the coast from Cassis to Marseille is spectacular, it can be done in one day at a fast pace. The trail (GR 98) is clearly marked (red and white strips).