The oldest and second largest city in France, Marseille offers visitors the cultural authenticity of an impressive twenty-six centuries of history. It is also a seaport metropolis that prides itself on being home to wonderful little streets, charming views, and a smaller-town feel, though a lively urban hub. Marseille has undergone a real face lift throughout the years. Having been in the shadow of glamorous St. Tropez and Cannes, Marseille was recognized as a “European Capital of Culture” in 2013. It has hence blossomed in confidence and wows the visitor with its imperfectly perfect city image.
Maritime History and Culinary Paradise
The old harbor, Vieux-Port, is the heart and birth place of the city. It is rich in history beginning roughly 600 years B.C. and used to be a crucial hub for trade. When you stop a minute, feel the slight breeze on your face, and just let it all sink in, you can let your imagination wander and think back to how it must have been thousands of years ago. Marseille’s vibrant historic spirit is alive – to this day. And you are right in the middle of it.
The French can be a proud lot. The colors of their national flag – blue, white, red – appear on the many smaller and larger boats home in Marseille’s charming harbor. Take it easy, go grab a coffee and stroll along the waterfront of what is probably most picturesque part of town. Stop by the many artisan shops in the Le Panier district. Watch the sun bathe the antique houses and ships in a warm, golden light. Soak in the French way of life and immerse yourself in the maritime flair especially to be felt on the traditional fish market.
A great city with great food and great views, sitting right on the edge of the blue Mediterranean […]. It’s got it all.” – Anthony Bourdain
For those appreciating locally sourced food, this is the place. Shrimps, crabs, oysters, mussels – Marseille is heaven for fresh seafood aficionados. Especially famous is the bouillabaisse, a soup made with different types of fish. Another delicacy, savory yet simple, is moules marinière (sailor mussels), made with local herbes de provence, onion and lots of garlic for that extra special flavor – just like Marseille provides. As diverse as Marseille is its wonderfully light, fresh cuisine.
A Laissez-Faire Way of Life as Cultural Trait
Once you arrive in Marseille, the spirit of a wonderfully light-hearted and young French way of living will embrace you. Wasn’t that already reflected by the local cuisine? This approach to life is also mirrored by the carefree atmosphere in the many street cafés, the mild mediterranean weather, and playful-casual attitude towards fashion full of contrasts, just like the city itself.
Laissez-faire – just let it happen. Take a deep breath, or a few, stop for a minute, take it slow. Savour life. Here, the rather young population seems to wholeheartedly embrace a very French c‘est la vie approach to life, full of joie de vivre. Easy-breezy walking or zooming down the picture perfect streets on a vespa. Hip, yet casual – also shown in the way people dress.
A man in no hurry gets nowhere fast. I have been in no hurry for 8 years. – Gregory David Roberts
Sip from life; savoring the little things, just like a good (French) wine. Slowly. With relish. Because after all, aren’t the littlest of things in life what make it worth living? Those seemingly insignificant moments that make us realize just how wonderful it is. Let this young dame française inspire us, who so perfectly embodies what this urban, laid-back hub displays: playfulness, multiculturalism, an easy-going and cool – just like the light breeze – lifestyle.
Among Mountains – Urban Center for Sports Enthusiasts
Soccer enthusiasts know Marseille well as it is home to the giant Vélodrome stadium. The stade was established in 1937 but fully remodeled for the European Championship in 2016. Like the vibrant atmosphere in the city and its deep-rooted history, soccer plays an important part in French culture.
Not just interesting from an architectural perspective, it is also stunning in front of the gigantic mountain range that rises precipitously behind the wavy stadium. It draws in a great number of sports fans throughout the year, all eager to get a taste of the spirit of Marseille that is so much more than just soccer.