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Marseille

At the gates of the Côte d’Azur

The port of entry to Provence, Marseille’s heart beats to the multicultural rhythm of the Mediterranean. Embark on a journey through the city’s age-old history in the spell of its immensely blue sky, its sing-song accents, its many culturally diverse neighborhoods and its old port watched over by the Catholic Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde, referred to locally as “The Good Mother”.

The “Good Mother” watches over the Old Port, the destination for the returning fishing boats, awaited by the fishmongers with their sing-song accents. The ferry boat, right out of a Pagnol film, awaits tourists crossing to see the steep-walled inlets called calanques. At the end of the Old Port, Fort Saint-Jean, which houses the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations looks down on the liners and ferries as they set sail. Opposite, St.Victor’s Abbey has the appearance of a medieval castle. Above the Old Port, the old Panier district still holds the secrets of the Corsican bandits who reigned there. Marseille remains a myth. Marseille will bewitch you and you will fall in love with it.

Must-See Sites

Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde
Referred to by people from Marseille as “The Good Mother”, the basilica of Notre-Dame de le Garde dominates the city. The church square offers spectacular views of the city, port and region.

The Old Port
It all started 2,600 years ago in this ancient cove. The Old Port is the heart of the city. Here you will hear sing-song accents of the locals.

The Old Port Marseille

La Vieille-Charité and le Panier
As you wander through the old Panier quarter that is reminiscent of the lanes and alleyways of Naples, you will come across the old hospital of la Vieille-Charité. It now houses the Maaoa museum (Museum of Art of Africa, Oceania and Amerindia) and the Museum of Mediterranean Archeology.

The Noailles quarter
If you want to see the “real” Marseille, you should definitely pay a visit to this quarter with its mix of spices, colors and scent of the Mediterranean.

The Corniche
The roadway starts at the Pharo Palace and ends at the Plages du Prado seaside park. A scrolling landscape of luxurious villas and sanctuaries of greenery line this white coast road.
Far off in the distance, you can make out the islands of the Frioul Archipelago and that of the Château d’If fortress. Hidden under a viaduct on the waterfront road, the tiny port of Vallon des Auffes awaits where you can sample a bouillabaisse, the ultimate Marseille specialty.

The Radiant City of Le Corbusier
Nicknamed the “Cité du Fada ” (the House of the Crazy), Le Corbusier’s building was opened in 1951. With 337 apartments housing well-off families, this experimental housing development now pending designation as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, boasts shops, a hotel, restaurant, a nursery school (the highest in the city!), a gym and a cinema club. The top of the roof terrace provides a spectacular vantage point.

The calanques
A hiker’s paradise, the Calanques, or sheltered inlets of Cassis, look out onto sea and offer spectacular landscapes.

marseille - calanques

The islands of the Frioul Archipelago
From the Old Port, you are a boat ride away from the Frioul Archipelago, where the Château d’If fortress stands guard. Stop off first at the Château d’If, famous for being the setting for the Count of Monte Cristo, then step ashore on the islands of Ratonneau et Pomègues where you can see the ruins of the hôpital Caroline that was used to quarantine people on boats arriving in Marseille.

History of the city

600 BC: The Phocaeans (sailors from a Greek city on the west coast of Turkey) discovered the cove of Lacydon (now the old port) and founded the settlement of Massalia.
49 BC: Caesar laid siege to Marseille, accusing it of siding with his rival Pompey.
5th century: Christianity established in Marseille. Monastic communities founded.
855: Kingdom of Provence formed, within which Marseille had a fair degree of freedom.
1348: The plague decimates half of the city.
1481: Charles du Maine, nephew of King René, the Count of Provence, bequeathed Provence to King Louis XI of France.
17th century: The reign of Louis XIV who built two fortresses (Fort Saint Nicolas and Fort Saint-Jean) and developed new districts. 
1720: The Great Plague, brought by a merchant ship, wipes out half of the population.
1792: A battalion of ‘fédérés’, or volunteer troops, from Marseille set off for Paris.
19the century: The city’s golden age, when the commercial influence was at its peak. To reflect Napoleonic pomp, numerous monumental structures are built. Notre-Dame de la Major, Notre-Dame de la Garde, Longchamp Palais.
1943: The Germans destroy the old quarters.
1962: Several hundred thousand ‘pieds-noirs’, returned Algerian settlers, go into exile in Marseille

Leisure time

  • Theatres (including La Criée)
  • Opera
  • Hiking in the Calanques
  • Scuba diving around the islands of the Frioul Archipelago.
  • Visit the Château d’If and islands of the Frioul Archipelago

Marseille - MUCEM


Leaving Marseille is the gateway to discovering Provence:

  • Aubagne, the town of Marcel Pagnol and the Santon figurines of Provence
  • Cassis, the port of depature for visiting the calanques
  • Aix en Provence, in the heart of the landscapes of Cézanne
  • Martigues, the “Provençale Venice”.
  • Les Alpilles mountain range and the village of Baux de Provence
  • The Lubéron, and its magnificent villages 

Transport

Marseille is ideal to visit all year round. Even in winter, there is mild sunshine and you can laze around on the terrace of a café in the old port. Spring is very pleasant and the nice weather continues into autumn. Summers are hot but there are rarely heatwaves thanks to the sea air and the Mistral.

Travel to Marseille and book your flight ticket with Nouvelair

Marseille never stopped from appealing to all five senses. Between the colors and textures of bright flowers, the scent and taste of street foods, and the sounds of the French language, you’ll be overcome by a rush of influence. Its location between around the Mediterranean will give you the best chance to have a unique sunbath. With the fast search engines, you will find a large selection of standard and low cost airlines. Nouvelair offers you the chance to buy your plane ticket, and book your holiday !

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Under 12 years
Under 24 months
Practical information
Best time to visit

Marseille is ideal to visit all year round. Even in winter, there is mild sunshine and you can laze around on the terrace of a café in the old port. Spring is very pleasant and the nice weather continues into autumn. Summers are hot but there are rarely heatwaves thanks to the sea air and the Mistral.

What to wear?

In winter, a light sweater and a jacket will be enough. Wear light clothing in summer

Flight times

Marseille is a 1 hour 50 minutes flight from Monastir 

A 2-hour flight from Djerba

Time zone

From October to the end of March: no time difference with Tunisia (GMT+1)

End of March to end of September Marseille is one hour ahead of Tunisia (GMT+2)

Language

French

Airport Information

Marseille Provence Airport

The airport is located 25 km north-west of Marseille

Nouvelair flights: Terminal 1

Check-in opens two and a half hours before departure

Information about visas for Tunisians.

VISA information for Tunisians wishing to travel to France

Currency

Euro (EUR)