Haven for Artists who Appreciate the Vieux
Nestled right on the Mediterranean Sea and an inspiration for artists, Marseille is the third largest metropolitan area in France. And yet it can seem like a quiet little fishing village. Over the last 2600 years, Marseille has built a rich, colorful atmosphere enhanced by the fresh sea air, ancient architectural foundations, incredible art and amazing food.
Rail Europe offers a Marseille Hop-On Hop-Off Tour, which allows you sightsee at your own pace. With its history so linked to the sea, it’s no surprise that the hub of Marseille’s action is at the Vieux Port, or Old Town. On the quai de Rive Neuve, check out La Criée, Marseille's most famous theater. Built in 1909 on the site of the old fish auction rooms, you’ll find diverse programming – from the avant-garde to current jazz acts. In Marseille during the summer? The Place Thiars is a lively square dotted with dozens of restaurants and bars, and the ideal place to enjoy an evening en plein air.
After an evening of imbibing, cross the harbor on an old wooden ferry – the oldest of its kind in France – to the other side, the quai du Port. Take a peek at the impressive 17th century Hotel de Ville (town hall). Walk back up towards the quai des Belges where a famous fish market takes place in the morning. From here you can enjoy the best view of the Canebière, the most famous street in the city, and the subject of a popular song.
Les Plages (the beaches) near the Prado is a popular hangout for locals and visitors alike. To walk through history, check out Le Panier, the oldest part of town. You’ll find tiny streets, steep steps and houses of every era. Also in this quarter, the Vieille Charité, a former almshouse that now functions as a museum.
And as a special honor, Marseille has been designated as one of the two cities chosen as European Capitals of Culture in 2013. Throughout that entire year, Marseille will be celebrating its unique culture through scheduled events such as exhibitions, shows and festivals.
With so much to see, you’ll want to get here fast. And with the high-speed TGV, it’s possible. There are 200 trains daily servicing Marseille at its St Charles train station. You can get here from Paris in a mere three hours, all while enjoying the changing scenery of the French countryside. And once in Marseille, the other charming towns of Provence and the Riviera await: Nice, Monaco and Aix-en-Provence – all just a short train ride away. You could even stay in Marseille taking day trips to the rest of the region.
See more of the Cote d’ Azur? Sounds right on track to us. A France Rail Pass can help you make the most of your time in France.
To learn more about preparing your trip to France, visit Atout France by clicking here if you’re a US resident or here if you’re a Canadian resident
Contributed by: Vanessa, a Travel Consultant representative in the Contact Center, who has spent 3 years living in Europe, has traveled by train throughout Western and Eastern Europe, and is tri-lingual!