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A Day in Marseille

By: Cityseeker
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La Canebière

La Canebière is Marseille's most famous street, opening directly onto the Old Port (Vieux Port). Its name originates from the Provençal term canébé, meaning "hemp," and can be traced back to the 11th Century when the street was home to rope-makers and hemp merchants. With the destruction of the dockyard in the late 18th Century, it gained free access to the port. Its lively hotels, luxury shops, theaters, and cafes earned it an international reputation.

La Canebière, Marseille, France, 13001
Old Port

The history of the port goes back as far as 600BCE, with the arrival of sailors from Phocaea, a Greek city in Asia Minor. France's oldest city came into being following the union of one of their leaders, Protis, with Gyptis, princess of the Ligurian people already settled in the region, whose territory in ancient times stretched right along the Mediterranean coast. The area, dappled with boutiques and historic landmarks, has since grown into a flourishing port and tourist site. With yachts and fishing boats bobbing by the side, the port beautifully captures the vibrancy of Marseille at the early morning fish market. Tourists and locals are found frequenting the numerous cafés facing the port which is an ideal spot to people watch as the dusk paints the whitewashed port environs in shades of tangerine. With its beauty recorded in several literary works, the port is a timelessly graceful relic of Marseille.

Vieux Port, Marseille, France, 13001
Muséum d'histoire naturelle de Marseille

Established in 1815 through the impetus of the Marquis de Montgrand, then mayor of Marseilles, the Natural History Museum of Marseille assembles some of the most invaluable examples of our natural heritage. Housed in the right wing of Palais Longchamp, a magnificent palace built in the Second Empire, the museum's collections earned it, in 1967, a place among the top nine museums in France. Today, with more than 200,000 species classified according to similarities of origin, structure etc., the museum seeks to preserve the memory of our rich biodiversity.

Palais Longchamp, Rue Espérandieu, Marseille, France, 13004
Longchamp Park

Formerly the site of a zoological park, these gardens are situated behind Longchamp Palace -the sumptuous architectural masterpiece from the Second Empire built to commemorate the arrival of water in the city, and now home to both arts and science museums. The wealth of beautiful waterfalls, fountains and sculptures create a truly magical atmosphere, intoxicating every visitor with surroundings reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance. It is the perfect place to find peace and tranquillity. The Marseilles Observatory in Place Leverrier which holds regular planetarium shows is also nearby.

Boulevard du Jardin Zoologique, Marseille, France, 13004
Marseille Cathedral

The Roman-Byzantine Marseille Cathedral was built in the middle of the 19th Century by Léon Vaudoyer, on the remains of the ancient Roman-Provençal 'Major' building which dates back to the 12th Century. With a capacity of 3000, it is the largest cathedral in France since the Middle Ages. The marble slabs, impressive porphyry columns and mosaics reflect the cathedral's true splendor, complemented by magnificent altars from the 12th and 15th Centuries and earthenware from the Della Robbia workshop are worth seeing.

Place de la Major, Marseille, France, 13002
Abbey of St. Victor, Marseille

Situated on the southern bank of the Vieux Port above the dry dock, the Abbey of St. Victor, Marseille played an important role in development of Christianity in the Mediterranean between the 11th and 18th Centuries. In the 14th Century, Pope Urbain V oversaw its fortification. The abbey's crypt and catacombs, which contain a number of ancient sarcophagi, are open to visitors, while its excellent acoustics make it the perfect venue for the religious and classical music concerts held here on a regular basis. Large crowds attend its special ceremonies for la fête de la Chandeleur (Candlemas) in February.

Place Saint-Victor, Marseille, France, 13007
Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations

The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations or Mucem is a remarkable feature of Marseille's cultural scene. It boasts a unique harbor-side location on the Mediterranean Sea, adjacent to the Fort Saint-Jean and J4 port terminal. Celebrated architect Rudy Ricciotti is the mastermind behind its unique architecture and futuristic design. The permanent exhibition is dedicated to the rich culture and heritage of the Mediterranean basin over the centuries. The construction also features an underground auditorium and a rooftop restaurant. However, the one thing to remember while visiting the museum is that opening times vary according to seasons.

7 Promenade Robert Laffont, Marseille, France, 13002
Plages du Prado

It was 1975 and in spite of having a long coastline, Marseille wasn't well equipped as far as beach facility and safety was concerned. The Plages du Prado was thus created, combining park and beach facilities all along the coast. Calling this area the "poor man's riviera" would be selling it short. The beaches are a lot less crowded, a lot less pretentious and a lot more beautiful, and the water is ideal for surfing, especially in autumn and winter. Dining at any of the restaurants along l'Escale Borély will round up the perfect day at the beach.

Avenue Pierre Mendès, Marseille, France, 13008
MAC - Musée d’Art Contemporain (Contemporary Art Museum)

The Museum of Contemporary Art is located near the sculpture by César (on the Pierre Guerre roundabout), not far from the Bonneveine shopping center. It hosts both permanent and temporary exhibitions in an area of 4000 square meters (2.5 square miles). Enter into the world of the "New Realists," the "Supports-surface," the "individual mythologies" and other representatives of the art of today. Call or see the website for more information on the latest displays and admission prices.

69 Boulevard de Haïfa, Marseille, France, 13008
Calanque de Marseilleveyre

It takes about an hour starting from Callelongue to hike to the sand and pebble beach of the Calanque de Marseilleveyre. The path that leads along the sea, overlooking the islands of Jarre, Riou Calsaigne and Mayor do not have any trees or shade. Among a few cabanas, once you arrive on the small beach (where swimming is possible), there is a café/restaurant open all year that receives its supplies by sea. Callelongue is the starting point of many trails the people of Marseille often hike on sunny Sundays so it is sometimes difficult to park there.

Callelongue, Avenue des Pebrons, Marseille, France, 13008
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