Discover the city of Marseille

Discover the Best of Marseille: 10 tips to explore the city and hone your French skills

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Marseille, situated along the breathtaking Mediterranean coast of France, is considered the oldest city in the country. Famous for its paradisiacal calanques, Marseille will also host the sailing and football events for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

1. Old Port (Vieux Port):
The heart of Marseille, where you can admire the bustling waterfront, vibrant markets, and iconic landmarks like the historic Fort Saint-Jean. When Julius Caesar arrived in Marseille in 49 BC, he was so captivated by the port's beauty that he declared, "I would rather be first in this little Gaulish village than second in Rome."

French Language tip: Order for a "Pastaga", le Pastis de Marseille! Aniseed-flavoured drink from the south of France!

2. Notre-Dame de la Garde
This stunning basilica sits atop a hill overlooking the city, offering panoramic views of Marseille and the Mediterranean Sea. Built between 1853 and 1864, the basilica is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, who is believed to protect sailors and fishermen. 

French Language tip:  Cette Basilique, ce n'est pas une petite "Guitoune"! Guitoune could be translated as a small counter.

3. Calanques National Park
A natural wonderland of rugged limestone cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and hidden beaches, perfect for hiking, swimming, and picnicking. The Calanques were a favorite haunt of French novelist Marcel Pagnol, who set many of his stories in this breathtaking landscape.

French Language tip: Listen to the music of IAM "Marseille" here

4.  Le Panier
Marseille's oldest district, characterized by its narrow streets, colorful facades, and charming squares. Le Panier has a rich multicultural history, once home to Greek, Roman, and North African communities.

French Language tip: Y'a "déguin" dans la rue ! which can be translated as It's deserted in the street or there's no-one there.

5. Château d'If
This infamous island fortress, located just offshore, is famous as the setting for Alexandre Dumas' novel "The Count of Monte Cristo." The Château d'If was originally built as a fortress in the 16th century to defend Marseille against invaders.

French Language tip: "Il a fait le mariole, il a voulu me chouraver mon téléphone le fada, mais je lui ai mis un taqué il a rien compri" He tried to play me and steal my mobile, but I gave him a good thrashing.

6. MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations)
A striking modern museum dedicated to showcasing the cultural heritage of the Mediterranean region. MuCEM is housed in a futuristic building designed by architect Rudy Ricciotti and opened its doors as part of Marseille's designation as the European Capital of Culture in 2013.

French Language tip: "Oh fada mais poussez-vous, on est trop esquichés ici" For God's sake, get out of the way, we're too tight in here.

7. Le Vélodrome

A renowned stadium and home to Olympique de Marseille football club. With a capacity of over 67,000 seats, Le Vélodrome is one of the largest stadiums in France and hosts exciting football matches and events.

French Language tip: Sing like a real OM fan with these songs!

8. Palais du Pharo
A historic palace overlooking the Mediterranean, offering stunning views of Marseille's coastline. Constructed in the 19th century for Napoleon III, the Palais du Pharo is now used for conferences and events. Taste the best bouillabaisse in Marseille chez Michel.

French Language tip: "C’est le oaï en permanence!" It's crowded every day!

9. Le Vallon des Auffes
A picturesque fishing village nestled between limestone cliffs, where you can enjoy fresh seafood at waterfront restaurants. Le Vallon des Auffes was once a small fishing port frequented by Marseille's fishermen, who built their traditional "pointu" boats here. 

French Language tip: "Je suis complètement ensuqué.e par cette cagne" The sun makes me feverish

10. La Friche la Belle de Mai
A dynamic cultural space housed in a former tobacco factory, featuring art exhibitions, live performances, and creative workshops. La Friche la Belle de Mai is known for its eclectic events, including rooftop film screenings and outdoor concerts.

French Language tip: Listen to the famous Renaud's song here

Paris 2024 Olympic Events: Marseille will serve as a vibrant host city for various events during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, including sailing and football competitions. This presents a unique opportunity for visitors to experience the excitement of the Olympics while exploring the beauty and culture of Marseille. Whether cheering on athletes or exploring the city's iconic landmarks, the Olympic Games offer a memorable backdrop for discovering all that Marseille has to offer.


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