Marseilles, oldest and 2nd largest city in France, isn’t one of the most visited city in France. It’s reputation has changed over years from being a dangerous city, city of drugs and crime to being the European Capital of Culture this year. As one of the biggest city in Mediterranean, capital of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, and having largest port, Marseilles became a cosmopolitan melting pot, attracting immigrants from rest of the world over many
Obviously, this is not a economically wealthy city, and it is evident when you walk along the streets of Marseilles. There are dirty streets, chaos traffic, graffiti art on deteriorating buildings, yet there is something striking about this city. Probably it’s confluence of old and new architecture, multicultural crowd, or it’s fabulous people.
While there are lot of things to see and do in Marseilles, I enjoyed doing simple things like strolling along the vieux port, seeing plethora of cafes and restaurants around, garnered with old and historical buildings. Due to it’s long history with Italian immigrants, there are so many restaurants that sold pizza. And they tasted great.
I walked, walked and walked – so much that the streets and buildings and people became familiar in that 48 hours that I stayed in Marseilles. There were cozy corners like this (above pic) where hot coffee and croissant were served. It’s a city full of immigrants Italian predominantly besides Spanish, Corsicans, Armenians and North Africans. So, there’s a variety in their gastronomy. There was one tiny restaurant where I had a delicious couscous with veggie stew.
An unknown yet beautiful church, quite close to the central railway station. Talking about it, there are plenty of artistic sculptures like these I saw all over the city, particularly impressed with the statues in the railway station. After a long stroll, I went to Cours Julien, a laid back place besmeared with graffiti art and markets of all kind.
I din’t see any tourist attractions in Marseilles because I was happy roaming on the unknown roads, and capturing those simple moments. Here’s one such night shot of the port.
Top things to see and do in Marseilles:
1. Visit Notre Dame De La Garde, a beautiful church sitting on top of the peak. It offers amazing 360 degree view of the city.
2. Take the tiny train and tour around Marseilles effortlessly.
3. The city is flooded with museums which were recently renovated as an initiative to improve tourist attractions.
4. Take a trip to Château d’If, a tiny island just about a mile off the coast.
Marseilles has an International Airport, and main Railway Station St.Charles. It’s about 2 hours drive from Nice and Lyon.