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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.
The Observatoire de Marseilles was created in 1702 by Jesuites. The star gazers delight in the programs offered: the observatory organises regular exhibitions and provide the opportunity to study the sky, as well as schedule shows, events and conferences at the planetarium. The instrument room can only be viewed by appointment. A dizzying journey through the stars and into the cosmos makes for a unique and awe-inspiring experience.
Across from the Stade Vélodrome, the Archange Théâtre presents consistent comedy; some comedians make a single appearance, some perform regularly, some are there to take part in the festivals and special events throughout the year. Classes for comedy, acting, and singing are also offered, helping anyone who wishes to make it onto the stage with projection, diction, rhythm, and stage design. A restaurant in the theatre offers meals for the hungry audience before or after the show. Ticket prices vary; see website for details and current programming.
Now a popular place to visit in summer, the Prado beaches; stretching from Palm-Beach down to the sea wall at Pointe-Rouge; were developed in 1974 encompassing 20 hectares of parkland. The seaside park consists of a huge leisure area where the inhabitants of Marseilles; both young and old; come to relax and play football, roller-blade, skateboard (in a specially designated area), cycle and fly kites. The Wind Festival celebrated in September is an opportunity for dedicated kite-flyers the world over to get together here and have fun. Admission to the park is free.
Nicknamed la maison du fada (fada meaning 'crazy' in Provençal dialect) by the Marseillais in reference to its designer Le Corbusier, the 55,000 tons of this building resting on gigantic pillars and surrounded by three hectares of grounds provides an unusual setting for the three-floor Hôtel Le Corbusier. Built in the immediate post-Second World War period, this colossal apartment block was conceived as the ideal family habitat, complete with a supermarket, bakery and tennis court. Hotel rooms are on the small side but attractively decorated and furnished, and from the rooftop you get a great view of the sea.
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.
Below the hills of Marseilleveyre there is a 112-hectare (277-acre) park: Campagne Pastré / Montredon Park which includes a 19th-century country house, the Chateau Pastré. The half-mile (0.8-kilometer) path to the Chateau is a nice walk past lawns, ponds and children's playgrounds. The Campagne Pastré / Montredon Park is the place for a game of pétanque, or a cultural outing (Musée de la Faïence - Tile Museum - in the Chateau Pastré), outdoor activities, a picnic or even a nap under the trees. What makes it even better is that it's only two steps from the beach! The Campagne Pastré / Park Montredon is also a great starting point for a hike into the Calanques. - P.Wicki
The bowling alley in La Valentine is a nifty place with many activities to be enjoyed with friends and family. Of course there is bowling with neat lanes and modern plasma monitors, but there are also pool tables (French and American) and also video arcades games. A large bar is located in the center of the place. Prices are reasonable, even though there is an admission charge on Friday and Saturday evenings. Payment must be made upfront per lane, which is not very practical when splitting with friends, but that's the way it is. The staff is friendly and the place easily accessed by car since it is located right off the highway.
In a vast and luminous space, this toy supermarket has everything to please your kids. From baby cribs to stuffed animals, to Playmobil, Lego, Barbie and bicycles, you'll have a vast selection of toys for every age to choose from. Also, educational games and sweets are available in this store.
Located just on the outskirts of Marseilles, the Novotel is easily accessible from the A50 motorway to the east of the city. Contemporary and comfortable, the hotel is surrounded by an aromatic herb garden and to add to the enjoyment of your stay, there is a swimming pool, tennis court and children's play area at your disposal. The hotel also has a restaurant with dining area on the terrace.
Provence may be known for its herbs, cigales, fields of lavender, and soupe au pistou, but the modern traveler cannot end a trip to Provence without zipping around an indoor go-carting track. Karting Indoor Provence offers three vehicle choices, a schedule of tournaments, and a bar and restaurant with a view of the racetrack. Check website for membership and youth discounts.