Famous for its soap factories, the second largest city of France enjoys an average of 300 days of sunshine a year, making Marseille a pleasant (as well as sweet-smelling) place to be all year round.
To visit Marseille is to discover the rich history of the oldest city in France: it was the Phocacean Greeks who founded this port city in around 600 BC, and the port is still going strong today; in fact it's the most active port in France.
To get the feel of the real Marseille, stroll along the Cannebière promenade to the Old Port: the beating heart of the city. In the old port you'll find a charming and unique contrast between old and new: between traditional fishing boats and schooners, and the modern yachts and ferries.
If you yearn for the open waters of the Mediterranean, why not hop on the boat to the former prison at Château d’If; the setting for Dumas's Count of Monte Cristo. The sea air is sure to give you a healthy appetite, and the restaurants of Marseille offer fantastic seafood dishes, the local speciality being the thick fish soup called Bouillabaisse.
"La Bonne Mere" watches over the city - the monumental statue of the Virgin Mary at the cathedal of Notre-Dame de la Garde which dominates the city from its hilltop position.
Behind the Hôtel de Ville you'll find the charming Panier ("basket") quarter: the oldest part of town. Don't miss the Maison Diamanté - this is not the bling kind of diamanté, however; it's name refers to its pointed brickwork - which houses the city's museum.
I fyou feel like escaping the crowds, why not go on a jaunt and visit the surrounding areas? Check out the cliffs of Cassis and the rugged, untamed beauty of the calanques of Marseille, a series of fjord-like ravines along the coast.
If you fancy rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, head for Saint Tropez, a pretty little town which is usually stuffed with superyachts and millionaires.
As night falls, Marseille gets its second wind (or mistral). To give you a little "va va voom" there's nothing like a pastis in one of the many bars in Marseille. If you get the chance, don't pass up an opportunity to see the famous football team l'Olympique de Marseille (O.M) in action - this is one of the top French clubs - and roll home singing La Marseillaise.
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