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Marseille, Provence, France

Marseille is the second most populated city in France. It is also the oldest city since it was founded around 600 BC by the Greeks. Worth visiting is the Old Port (Vieux-Port) with the harbour and marina, the center of the city and the Old Town. There are also many museums, including the Musée des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée (MuCEM - museum of European and Mediterranean civilisations), the Musée du Vieux Marseille and the Marseille History Museum. Outside Marseille you can visit the 19th-century Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde, the Calanques (mountainous coastal area), the islands of the Frioul archipelago (mentioned in the book "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas).

Parking in Marseille nearby port

If you want to park as close to the port and the Old Town as possible, you should choose, for example, the parking lot Indigo Marseille Vieux Port Mucem (P1; GPS: 43.2984775, 5.3628173), parking lot Indigo Marseille Les Terrasses du Port (P2; GPS: 43.3058582, 5.3653764) or parking Centre Bourse (P3; GPS 43.2969483, 5.3742914). These are just examples of parking lots - there are many more, so if you want to get acquainted with their location, use specialized websites (e.g. Parkopedia or Google Maps). Just remember that most French parking lots are built to prefer small cars - parking spaces are quite narrow, so the owners of large SUVs should pay attention to it.

The port surroundings

We start our walk at the Old Port (French: Vieux Port) (A; GPS: 43.2951662, 5.3740323). This is a marina bustling throughout the year with lots of hotels, restaurants, cafes, and above all the Mediterranean climate, which in total creates an interesting place for a pleasant time. Ships towards Calanques and the islands of the Frioul archipelago also flow from this place. It is worth coming here in the morning when fishermen sell fresh fish and seafood. During dinner you must try the famous Bouillabaisse. Earlier, however, it is worth getting acquainted with the opinions about the restaurants, because we have heard that in some of them is offered the canned soup.

From the central place of the port we go the Quai du Port street, on the right side of which we pass the beautiful building Hôtel de Ville, i.e. the town hall (B; GPS: 43.2962197, 5.3699046). This is a former court building built in the mid-eighteenth century. There was also a prison in its underground.

MuCEM, Tour du fanal and Cosquer cave

Going further, we reach the MuCEM building, i.e. the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilization (C; GPS: 43.2948631, 5.3629876). We turn left and walk along the shoreline on the Louis Brauquier promenade. On the right we pass the Fort Saint-Jean (D; GPS: 43.2953496, 5.3615910). From this place we can have really great views of the whole port. Interestingly, the entrance to this historical monument is free.

Another building that we pass is a 30-meter watch tower (or observation point) "Tour du fanal" (E; GPS: 43.2956873, 5.3610668), erected at the end of the Saint-Jean ness in 1644.

On the left there is a modern building of MuCEM museum, and next to it the Grotte Cosquer Méditerranée - an interesting place being a reconstruction of the original Cosquer cave, decorated with paintings from the Paleolithic period, located on the Mediterranean coast near Marseille, in the area of Calanque de Morgiou.

Cathédrale La Major

We leave the port and walk the Avenue Vaudoyer towards the Cathédrale La Major (F; GPS: 43.2997737, 5.3646643). Earlier in this place there was so-called old cathedral (from the 12th century). In the mid-nineteenth century, the construction of a new church began, which was completed in 1896. From the architectural point of view, the temple has three naves and was built in the Neo-Romanesque-Neo-Byzantine style with five domes. The entire building is very impressive.

The Old Town in Marseille

Some people may not like the Old Town of Marseille. It was a kind of shock for us. The walls of the buildings are covered with innumerable graffiti, which in our opinion is completely unnecessary and harmful. The walls should be in their original condition. If one can't live without painting, should buy an easel and paints, as was done in the past in cultural times, and not spray on the walls.

We start our tour of the old town district from Place Père Pierre Saisse (G; GPS: 43.2999994, 5.3679918), where La Vieille Charité is located - a cultural center with museums of archeology and art, housed in a domed building, which used to be a shelter. Then we enter the Rue du Petit Puits street, which later changes to Rue Lorette (H; GPS: 43.3000070, 5.3693968). We turn right onto Rue Puits Saint-Antoine and reach Rue des Moulins.

We go towards the hotel La Maison du Petit Canard (I; GPS: 43.2997503, 5.3667770), located on the Impasse Sainte-Françoise. The surroundings of the hotel are interesting - there are (real) paintings hanging on the walls. It reminds us a bit of Pijarska Street in Krakow, at the Florianska Gate, where artists hang and sell their works.

Palais Longchamp

The best way to get around Marseille is by metro. From the vicinity of the port, you can easily get to next destination, i.e. Palais Longchamp (J; GPS: 43.3042955, 5.3945251) - you just should get off at Cinq Avenues Longchamp station. You can also drive up and park in the parking lot at the Marseille Saint-Charles train station (P4; GPS: 43.3030407, 5.3842041).

Palais Longchamp was established in 1869 and consists of a beautiful park with unique buildings and a fountain. It is worth spending some time here, entering the buildings (where the Museum of Fine Arts and the Natural History Museum are located), walking the paths and taking a closer look at the fountain itself.

Boulevard Longchamp

We leave the beautiful Palais Longchamp and walk the main street, Boulevard Longchamp (K; GPS: 43.3018320, 5.3893324). There are trams along the street, and on both sides of it there are nice tenement houses. We use this street to get to the Stalingrad Square.

Sq. Stalingrad

In fact, the Stalingrad Square (L; GPS: 43.2994955, 5.3849440) is a short street, the name of which is to commemorate the Battle of Stalingrad, which took place in 1942–1943. Once the street was called "Place des Danaïdes", but was renamed Sq. Stalingrad On February 4, 1946, a few days after the third anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad. There is a pretty fountain Fontaine des Danaïdes from 1907 on the street. On Saturdays there are flower markets here. It is a great place for a short break and for a cold drink or coffee.

Towards Saint-Charles Train Station

We leave the Stalingrad Square and go further along the quite narrow Grande Armée street (M; GPS: 43.3004467, 5.3840481). After a few hundred meters we reach Boulevard De La Liberté (N; GPS: 43.3009161, 5.3823276). Then turn right into Rue Lafayette (O; GPS: 43.3012556, 5.3816601). We approach the famous staircase leading to Saint-Charles Train Station.

Escalier Gare Saint-Charles

The stairs leading to the Saint-Charles Train Station (Escalier Gare Saint-Charles) (Q; GPS: 43.3016705, 5.3805361) make a great impression with their monumental size. They were put into operation on April 24, 1927. The station (from 1848) was built on a hill and therefore didn't have direct access to the main street, Boulevard d'Athenes. It became possible only thanks to the construction of the stairs. They consist of several levels with sculptures representing various allegories.


Calanques is a national park that stretches along the Mediterranean coast from Marseille to Cassis. It is characterized by numerous bays, cliffs and small beaches. For this reason, the area is known as the "Mediterranean Fjords". The name Calanques comes from the word Calanque, which in turn means a geological formation made of limestone rocks in the form of a bay with steep rocks.

The Calanques can be visited - there are numerous hiking routes and you can also make excursion with boat cruises. If you want to go on a hiking trip, it is necessary to have the right amount of water and food. You should also remember to properly protect the head and the whole body - the sun in the summer months can cause the body to overheat. The route is quite long so you should be in good shape. It is much easier to explore the Calanques from the sea - by cruise ship. Regardless of the way you visit it, it is worth seeing this place, because the views are unique.

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