What to Visit, Buy and Eat… in Marseille
Very often, people from Marseille seem to be very proud of their city, and in light of the soul of Marseille, we can understand this feeling! Check out the reasons why you should visit this amazing and crazy city!
5 January 2018
What to Visit, Buy and Eat… in Marseille
Did you know?
Marseille is a city in the south-east of France, located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte region d’Azur. In 2015 Marseille was the second largest city in France in terms of population, with nearly 900000 inhabitants.
The city has a rich culture and a very strong identity thanks to its past: Marseille is indeed the oldest city in France and was founded by Greek sailors from Phocaea, which allowed it to become an important trading port and passage and experience a significant economic boom. This importance of the maritime life of Marseille makes it still today the 1st Port of France, and the 5th largest port of Europe.
This heritage makes today’s life in Marseille very dynamic and lively. If the city itself is renowned for its personality, so are the inhabitants (‘les Marseillais’)…who are also known for their good mood, their friendliness, their singing accent and their exuberance. Actually in the French language, we use the expression “être Marseillais” to describe a person who tends to amplify his words and to exaggerate a story that took place.
Marseille is also a very cosmopolitan city, and many nationalities coexist there due to its direct proximity to the Mediterranean Sea and its history. This mix of cultures allows a wide choice of activities and things to discover.
Even if today the image of Marseille is a little tarnished by various controversies, especially on the rather mediocre cleanliness of the city, delinquency and vendettas that have regularly made headlines these recent years, Marseille remains a culturally and historically rich city where a true sense of identity and integration prevail there. As some rappers from Marseille say : “Here we are Marseillais, well before being French”.
The activities are very varied and everyone can find something to enjoy.
Marseille’s climate is sunny and hot and of course, there is the Mediterranean Sea !
However, the beaches of Marseilles are not famous for being very pleasant. Often crowded, not very clean … They are not really the best place to swim, sunbathe or walk by the water. There is a much more alternative pleasant: the national park of Calanques. Calm, serenity, the creeks look like a paradise near a hectic city. Pristine water, breathtaking panorama and rich biodiversity await you. Even the main detractors of the city of Marseille praise the Calanques! However, you must be sure to be equipped: the creeks are rocky and you might need to a while before accessing a water point and a place to settle.
The Old Port (‘Le vieux Port’)
Another essential corner of Marseille: The Old Port. This is the historical center of the city where you can enjoy having a drink or contemplating the boats. You can also get there early in the morning to watch the fishermen sell their last catches by auction.
You can go by walk to the Basilica Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde. It is necessary to walk a bit, and the climb is a bit steep, but it’s worth the trip to get by walk to ‘La Bonne Mère’ (nickname given by the inhabitants for their Basilica). Arrived at the top, you will get an unobstructed view on Marseille that will make you forget the little walk.
‘Le Cours Julien’
‘Le Cours Julien’ is a very popular venue among the hipster community. This neighborhood is partially closed to traffic so this is a very nice place to chill out. It is also filled with graffiti, vintage ready-to-wear shops, record stores and other concert halls and art galleries. In short, it’s an avant-garde and underground neighborhood and visitors with an artistic soul will feel at ease there.
‘Le Marché du Soleil’ is is a venue where you might felel disoriented. There you can find loads of oriental products at very attractive prices. This place is in a way the bastion of the North African culture in Marseille, whose strolgly a part of the cultural identity of the city.
One museum you should not miss when visiting Marseille is ‘le MuCEM ‘ (acronym for Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean). In an original and impressive architecture, this museum hosts exhibitions about art, anthropology, history and archeology.
</ iframe>There are many other famous cultural venues, like ‘ of architect Le Corbusier. This structure was originally designed to accommodate people who lost their homes during World War II. It is nowadays a place visited mostly by architecture buffs.
Are you as soccer fan ? Well, Marseille is the home of the famous team ‘L’Olympique de Marseille’. The team play in ‘Le Stade Vélodrome’, often considered as the most passionate Stadium in France. The ambiance during evenin matches are really intense, and there is no need to be a real amateur football to enjoy the show !
What can you eat and buy?
Now what about Food ? Marseille is a paradise for seafood and fish lovers. The most typical dish of the city is the famous ‘Bouillabaisse’. This dish has its roots in the modest origins of the fishermen of the city who prepared this dish by using leftovers. The fish and seafood that make up the bouillabaisse are therefore very varied. Whether you are fond of this dish or simply curious, it is possible to take classes to learn how to cook this delicious and healthy dish at the Tourist Office of Marseille. Obviously, since most of Marseille’s recipes revolve around fish and sea food, the traditional sauces invented here were created to accompany fish and sea food…like the famous ‘Sauce Aioli’, a very tasty mayonnaise made from garlic and olive oil, that accompany ‘L’Aioli’ dish, a plate of cod, steamed vegetables and eggs.
Contrary to Northern parts of France, where butter and sunflower oil is mostly employed in cuisine, locals prefer to cook every dish with olive oil. Olives grown and matured under the sun of Provence, produce fabulous olive oils with a unique taste.
As for local drinks, the superstar here is ‘Le Pastis’, a liquor flavored with anise and licorice that we drink mostly during aperitif. It is a very popular drink in France, particularly appreciated by the Marseillais. The liquor is strong (45° or more alcohol) and you must add water to drink it (generally 4 volumes of water for 1 volume of liquor).
For tourists wishing to bring back souvenirs to their familly and loved ones, it is easy to bring something better than a simple keychain or a magnet to put on his refrigerator.:)
What about ‘des boules de Petanque’ ? The game of Petanque has been a famous leisure in Marseille (and very popular in France) for ages… and lots of Marseillais like to gather in the city to play this game.
Another Souvenir gift might be the traditional ‘Savon de Marseille’ an organic soap known for its quality, produced in Marseille since the 12th century.
It is difficult to summarize a city as large, diverse and original as Marseille in an article. So why not discovering it during you next trip to France ?