Marseilles Tourist Attractions
Top Tourist Attractions in Marseilles
Marseilles (Marseille in French), the oldest and second largest city, after Paris, and the most important port of France, is situated on the Mediterranean east of the Rhône delta.
Marseilles is the chief place in the Département of Bouches-du-Rhône, a university town and the seat of an archbishop.Marseilles has a charming situation on a broad bay which is enclosed on the north by the Chaîne de l'Estaque towards the Etang de Berre and rises on bare limestone hills. It is dominated by the Church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, the landmark of the city and the port. Although the oldest city in France there are few remains of ancient or medieval buildings.The economic situation of the town is primarily determined by the importance of the port. A third of French maritime trade is handled by the independent Port Autonome de Marseille. The annual turnover of goods amounts to about 100 million tons (almost 90% imports), of which the greatest part (over 90%) is handled by the new installations of Fos-sur-Mer and Lavéra which extend a long way to the west (transport of mineral oil, mineral oil products and ores). With some 1.2 million passengers annually Marseilles is the third passenger port of France; a great proportion of this traffic is attributable to the busy ferries across the harbor basins.Raw materials and heavy industry characterize the area of Marseilles/Etang-de-Berre/Fos; four refineries produce 30% of national capacity, steel production amounts annually to 1.3 million tons. The traditional industries of Marseilles - shipping, the production of cooking oil and the manufacture of soap, have suffered from recession and both steel and petro-chemical production have declined, with the result that Marseilles has the highest unemployment in France. The position has been intensified by the significance of Marseilles as a "bridge" between Europe and North Africa, that is as the principal place at which emigrants from Africa arrive. Over 100,000 Arabs live in Marseilles ; the Belsunce quarter north of the Canebière is also known as the "Marseilles Beirut"; few European faces are to be seen in this part of the city.Marignane, the airport of Marseilles, is the third largest in France, (after Paris and Nice) a symbol of the economic area.The town was founded in the seventh century BC under the name of "Massalia" by Greeks from the town of Phocaea in Asia Minor. Until well into the time of the Roman Empire it was a center of Greek culture. The town experienced its first flowering in the middle of the sixth century BC after Phocaea had been destroyed by the Persians, and the population was soon increased by streams of refugees. Massalia expanded to the northeast towards the present day Butte des Moulins. Trade flourished, especially with the Ligurians who, it is generally believed, had their principal settlement in the nearby Oppidum of Entremont.The intervention of the Romans after the Second Punic War in favor of the Greeks culminated in the destruction of the Saluvian tribe in 124, whereupon Aquae Sextiae Saluviorum (Aix), the first Roman town on Gallic soil was founded. The quarrel between Caesar and Pompey led to a fateful clash with the Romans, when the people of Massalia sided with Pompey. Caesar conquered the town, added to it the extensive territory of the Province of Arles and promoted the development of the Forum Julii (Fréjus).Already in the first century AD an extension of the now Roman town of Massalia was carried out by draining the extensive marshes to the east. The wall which had been built in the Imperial Age enclosed the settlement until well in the the 11th century; at that time the town was composed of an Upper Town (temple, forum and other public buildings) and a Lower Town (port, dock installations, etc.).After the fall of the Roman Empire the town came under the domination of the Western Goths, then of the Franks and finally passed to the Kingdom of Arles. After its destruction by the Saracens it was rebuilt in the tenth century and was subject to the Vicomtes de Marseille; in 1218 it became free until 1250 when Charles of Anjou conquered Marseilles which was united to France in 1481. The importance of the harbor increased enormously at the time of the Crusades. In the Middle Ages defenses were constructed as opportunity offered, for example the Tour St Jean on the north side of the harbor entrance, erected by the Knights of the Order of St John, a bastion near the present-day Pilgrimage Church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde by François I and extensions to the Château d'If. Under Mazarin the Forts of St Jean and St Nicolas were reinforced at the harbor entrance.During the French Revolution which led to violent clashes between the Jacobins and the merchants, the most unruly elements withdrew to Paris where they made popular the "Marseillaise" which had been written and set to music by the army officer Rouget de Lisle, in Strasbourg.In the 19th century there were large-scale extensions to the town as there were in Paris, where Baron Haussmann had laid out broad boulevards through whole quarters of the city. Notable among the improvements were the Rue de la République between the Old and New Harbors, numerous examples of prestigious architecture, including the Triumphal Arch in the Place d'Aix and the Palais Longchamps, all of which bear witness to the economic prosperity at the time of the Industrial Revolution.The increase of French influence in North Africa from 1830 and the opening of the Suez Canal resulted in a great demand for accommodation, etc. (many new dwellings; "bidonvilles" = tin-can towns; extension of the harbor), a trend which has continued until the present day and which had led to a similar townscape to that of other European centers of population.
Boulevard Longchamp Area
In the Boulevard Longchamp area of Marseilles are the Palais Longchamp and the Musée Grobet-Labadie.
At the eastern end of the boulevard Longchamp in Marseilles, which runs parallel to the boulevard de la Libération, the continuation of the Canebière, stands the Palais Longchamp with stately museum buildings on either side of a pillared hall (fountains). It was built by Espérandieu in 1862-69 at the end of the canal from the Durance to Marseilles. On the right is the Musée d'Histoire Naturelle (Natural History Museum). Behind the Palais lies the large Zoological Garden.
Opening hours: Jun 1 to Aug 31: 10am-5pm; Sun: 12pm-7pm; Sat: 12pm-7pm
Sep 1 to May 31: 10am-5pm
Sep 1 to May 31: 10am-5pm
Musée des Beaux Arts
On the left is the Musée des Beaux Arts with 16th and 17th C paintings (Perugino, Rubens), works by Provençal masters (Puget, Serre, Mignard), modern sculptures and works by the caricaturist Honoré Daumier, born in 1808 in Marseilles.
Address: Palais Longchamp, Place Henri Dunan, F-13004 Marseille, France
Opening hours: Jun 1 to Sep 30: 11am-6pm; Closed: Mon
Oct 1 to May 31: 10am-5pm; Closed: Mon
Oct 1 to May 31: 10am-5pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee: FREE
The Boulevard Longchamp in Marseilles terminates in a circular open space, where stands the Musée Grobet-Labadié, a mansion with beautiful furniture, given to the town by Madame Grobet. On display are musical instruments, medieval sculpture and tapestries, 18th C furniture and ceramics.
The Northern Part of the City
About 1km/.5mi from the Old Harbor of Marseilles, the Port Moderne (New Harbor; over 200ha/494acres; 25km/16mi of quais) was laid out from 1844. Most passenger ships (including ferries for Corsica) tie up in the Bassin de la Grande Joliette which is 20ha/49acres in extent. At the Quai de la Joliette, opposite the end of the boulevard des Dames, lies the Gare Maritime (Marine Railroad Station) immediately above the harbor basin. From the Jetée (mole) 5km/3mi long (access only at weekends) there is a good view of the New Harbor.
Marseilles Arc de Triomphe
In the Place Jules-Guesde stands the Arc de Triomphe (Triumphal Arch), erected in 1825-32 to commemorate the capture of Fort Trocadéro at Cadiz.
The Southern Part of the City
Avenue du Prado
The broad Avenue du Prado (called the "Prado" for short) in Marseilles, expansively laid out and shaded by plane trees, is the southern continuation of the Rue de Rome and leads to the Rond-Point du Prado. On the left are the Parc Amable Chanot and the exhibition grounds with the Palais des Congrès.
From the Rond-Point the avenue du Prado continues in a southwesterly direction to the shore. On the left is the Parc Borély where the film of the tales of Marcel Pagnol (director Yves Robert, première 1991) was shot and the mansion which was built for a rich merchant called Borély in 1767-1778.Wrought-iron gates lead in to the formal garden with its twin alleys of plane trees and circular pools.
Unité d'Habitation (Cité Radieuse)
About 1.3km/1mi south of the Rond-Point, on the right side of the Boulevard Michelet, extends the Unité d'Habitation, also called the Cité Radieuse, a residential complex in the Marseilles area designed by Le Corbusier and intended to "show the way ahead". The huge rectangular construction, 165m/180yds long and 56m/184ft high, comprises on eight double storys 337 flats of 23 different types. There are communal rooms, shops (also the "Le Corbusier" hotel), a kindergarten, a theater etc., and on some floors "rues intérieures" complete the internal facilities. The "House", which is supported by 17 pairs of concrete stilts - these also contain the supply services - represents a whole town for some 1,600 inhabitants. The basic idea behind this construction was to provide accommodation for many people in the smallest possible area and to leave room for green open spaces. Le Corbusier has nevertheless sought to realize harmonious proportions and forms. Today this experiment is criticized for not permitting the spontaneity and individuality of modern city life.
International Documentary Film Festival
Olympique de Marseille
Olympique de Marseille, also known as l'OM, is part of the French Football League, based in Marseille. The club is well supported by fans who regularly fill the stadium, Stade Vélodrome. The stadium seats just over 60,000 spectators and is the largest club football ground in France.
Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Marseilles was opened in 1994. Located in a donated building, the museum features a sculpture garden as well as permanent and temporary exhibits. The permanent collection includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos and installations, with works by Caesar, Ben, Tinguely, Baquié, Basquiat, Orozco, Dieter Roth, Rodney Graham.
Parc du Pharo
In Marseilles, on a hill to the south of the harbor entrance, below which runs a road tunnel, the Tunnel St Laurent, lies the Parc du Pharo, with the former great castle of the Empress Eugénie (the wife of Napoleon III) and a naval memorial. In summer open-air plays are performed outside the castle. From the park there is an extensive view of the port installations and of the town.
Musee de la Faïence
Musee de la Faïence focuses on faience pottery from Marseille and Moustiers. The museum is housed in the Château Pastré, one of the few Provençal country house that remains intact today. Over 1,500 items are on display from the Neolithic period to present day.
The Societe du Metro de Marseille (SMM), a rubber tired full metro was opened in 1978 and is made up of two lines with 19.5km of track. There are 24 stations. The system has a flat fare structure in which tickets are integrated with bus tickets.The system serves about 55 million people yearly with a rolling stock of 144 cars in 4 car sets. During peak hours trains run every 3 minutes, off-peak, every 5-10 minutes.
More Marseilles Pictures
Map of Marseilles Attractions