“When you come to Marseille, you have the impression you’re in a place with freedom”. Matthieu Gamet
The sunshine capital of France has had a makeover recently, meaning that there’s no better time to visit. For a foreigner, the first things that come to mind about Marseille might be The French Connection, national hymns and Zinedine Zidane. But the city has so much to offer than these dubious claims to fame.
Sometimes called the French Texas, Marseille is a long way, literally and metaphorically, from the metropolitan refinement of Paris. Nestled between Provencal fishing villages, the city has been a commercial port for thousands of years, thanks to its proximity to Africa. African immigration has made for an unusually rich local culture.
Marseille cuisine is simple and garlicky. Be sure to try bouillabaisse, its famous fish soup. Grand 19th-century buildings loom over the central Street of the Republic. Brutalist masterpieces stand watch over the Vieux Port, the hub of city life. Marvel at Notre Dame Cathedral (not to be confused with that Notre Dame) and the island castle of Chateau d’If. Mediterranean-blue sea joins dramatic cliff formations at the Massif des Calanques, a nearby national park. The Mucem is a leading museum of modern art, the Palais Longchamp a grand and elegant garden.
Approach Marseille with an open mind, and you’ll be rewarded.
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