Marseille: Gulf Harbor National Geographic

Marseille: Gulf Harbor National Geographic

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Marseille has never been better. The port city, with its Arab markets, bouillabaisse restaurants and a new wave of gentrification, has long been the black sheep of France, and this year's European Capital of Culture Monday, May 31, 2019.

When is a French City Not a French City? Perhaps if it is a port that has secured its place on the map for millennia before the idea of ​​France came into focus. Perhaps when it comes to the coverage of the city, which takes into account the exterior, turning its back on Paris and looking at the Mediterranean, which has long been its lifeblood. Perhaps, if it is a convoluted, multicultural metropolis gloriously shaped by centuries of immigration and whose identity extends beyond the classic Frenchness concept.

Marseille is just such a city. Founded by the Greek settlers of the Phocaea Ionian outpost (now Foaca in modern-day Anatolia, Turkey), 600BC was Massalia, not so much a location that became part of France as an historical enclave around which France grew up.

Of course it is nonsense to say that Marseilles is not a piece of France; early birth makes it the oldest city in the nation. It is also the third largest and second largest population. It is the capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region and also the main metropolis of the South Coast, a brutal amidst the gold-plated elegance of Cannes, Nice and Saint-Tropez.

And of course, it offers plenty of Gallic glamor flashes: Vieux Port seafood restaurants; yachts to love in this vast harbor; Notre-Dame de la Garde, one of France's largest basilica; a lane of lanes once abandoned but now gentrified in the Le Panier district; beaches where locals bathe in sand.

But Marseille also walks a separate trail. Noahilles Quarter is a North African exclave, its streets dampened with souk sounds and smells; its Libyan shops and Algerian restaurants and cafes emphasize the city's deep melting furnace. The bars of La Plaine's lively square give the noise of Cote D'Azur's restrained chic. The Musée d'Histoire de Marseille preserves archaeological fragments of Greek origin. And 10 miles east of the Parc National des Calanques retreats to prehistory; its dramatic limestone fractures reveal France far from the seaside promenades.

For all this, Marseille has long been overlooked, its light hidden behind the Parisian style and the gourmet charm of Lyonnais. So far, that's the case. This year, the city has become the center of attention as the European Capital of Culture. Now is the time. & Nbsp; Vive la difference.

Notre-Dame de la Garde: Notre-Dame de la Garde, with its golden statue of a virgin and child, is Marseille's most prominent religious landmark, visible everywhere in the city. Completed in 1864, the building combines architectural majesty with quiet piety, while its gigantic verandah overlooks a 490-foot roof. & Nbsp;

Musée Regards de Provence: & nbsp; The museum, located in the former waterfront sanatorium, was opened in March as an important contribution to the 2013 cultural festival. It focuses on Provence landscape paintings with works by Paul Guigou, Auguste Chabaud and Pierre Ambrogian. & Nbsp;

Center de la Vieille Charité: & nbsp; The narrow alleys and staircases of Le Panier are best explored on foot and by chance, but the area's crucial moment is the Center de la Vieille Charité, a former orphanage built on the spot in the 17th century. century architect Pierre Puget. This sweeping structure now hosts temporary exhibitions. & Nbsp;

Musée d'Histoire de Marseille: reopened by 2013, this museum leaves the city's fairy tale back to the Greek foundations - literally the Jardin des Vestiges, which contains archaeological fragments from the time Marseille was formed. Other exhibits look at Rome and Louis XIV. & Nbsp;

Mémorial de la Marseillaise: & nbsp; Although it was created in Strasbourg in 1792, La Marseille's Marseille bog-breakers were the most painfully received by the national anthem, earning its name. This museum describes the port's relationship with this revolutionary type. & Nbsp;

Palais Longchamp: & nbsp; In the north-eastern part of the center, in the 4th district, the extravagant 19th-century Palais Longchamp offers sophisticated water features and graceful gardens, plus two museums: the Musée des Beaux-Arts soft sculptures and the Musée fossils at the National d'Histoire Naturelle. & Nbsp;

Saint-Jean Castle: & nbsp; This stone fortress in the northern corner of Vieux Harbor has been the watchdog of Marseille since 1660. Since May, it has hosted the L'Europe et de la Méditerranée Museum (MuCEM), another debutant of 2013 focusing on European and Mediterranean civilizations. & nbsp;

Château d’if: & nbsp; if it is half a mile from the sea on a rocky island, it is the castle of Alcatraz in Marseille - the fortress where political prisoners were held between the 17th and 19th centuries (including the fictional Count of Alexandre Dumas Monte Cristo). The ferries leave from Vieux Port. & Nbsp;

Groom yourself: & nbsp; when you take the 21 buses from Vieux Port to the end of the route to Lumini (45 minutes), the Parc National des Calanques is a great place to stroll between spectacular limestone rocks and cucumbers. & Nbsp;

Lazy afternoons: & nbsp; the Marseilles turn to relax with their nap on the Plage des Catalans beach, south of Vieux Port, and in the leafy space of the Jardin du Pharo, where you can watch the ferries from Algiers. along the Saint-Jean fortress.

When moving: & nbsp; The treasure of Marseille is accessed by its excellent integrated trams, buses and metro lines. All three modes of transport are covered by a city pass (€ 22 (£ 18) for 24 hours; € 29 (£ 24) for 48 hours), including entrance to 15 museums. It can be purchased from the tourism headquarters next to Vieux Port.

Callouts: & nbsp; Officially named Place Jean-Jaurès, but spoken as La Plaine, this square has a market from Thursday to Saturday from 8am to 2pm where you can pick flowers, fruits, vegetables and other food.

Moving up: & nbsp; A clear sign of Le Panier's transformation from a salty ghetto into one of the city's coolest quarters, Place Aux Huiles sells a wealth of olive oil and other Provence delicacies. & Nbsp;

Souks in & nbsp; Rue d'Aubagne, located in the heart of Noahles, specializes in stores whose heavy aromatic shelves - heavy with dates, figs and spices - would not be located in Tanger or Tunis.

Retail Therapy: & nbsp; As a big city, Marseille also has all the modern shopping you would expect. Its main avenue, La Canebière (to the east of the harbor) and the Center Bourse Shopping Center, is full of shops. & Nbsp;

Marseille offers a true blend of flavors: Arabic flavors in Noahille and Gauls in Place Notre-Dame du Mont. Vieux Port can be expensive, but it also has several gems.

£ & nbsp; Le Fournil de la Rue d'Aubagne: & nbsp; The Rue d'Aubagne is special from the holes in the Mediterranean Sea by the wall. This worldly bakery is a fine dining spot serving exotic Arabian gnomes. and pizzas. T: 00 33 4 9133 3067.

££ & nbsp; Le Goût des Choses: & nbsp; The selection of restaurants celebrating Place Notre-Dame du Mont, the casually artistic Le Gout des Choses, has earned its classic reputation with dishes like honey and almond cooked with almonds. & Nbsp;

£££ & nbsp; Le Miramar: & nbsp; Dining options can be found on the north side of Vieux Harbor, where seating areas with murals create a fun bubbler. Le Miramar is famous for taking the culinary signature of the city to Bouillabais. & Nbsp;

Although Marseille is cheaper than Cannes or Nice, Marseille is subject to the same exorbitant room fees that affect much of southern France. However, reasonable deals can be found.

£ & nbsp; Hotel Carré Vieux Port: Ideally located back from Vieux Port and just off La Canebière, this pleasant three-star hotel offers no basic necessities. The rooms are slightly on the side but are perfect for the weekend. & Nbsp;

££ & nbsp; Grand Hotel Beauvau: & nbsp; Next to the Carré Vieux Port above Rue Beauvau, this four-star port watch has been operating long enough to welcome Chopin as early as 1839.

£££ & nbsp; & nbsp; Hotel Dieu: & nbsp; Housed in a former 18th-century hospital building, the Dieu Hotel, redesigned as an InterContinental property just for the 2013 celebrations, has recently symbolized the revival of Le Panier. & nbsp;

As with all major cities, the outlook on Marseille nightlife ranges from simple watering holes for quick exploration to stylish bar bars to foreign cocktails for hours.

Au Petit Nice: & nbsp; With the twilight, La Plaine reaches new heights - nowhere more than a café-bar on the edge of the square. Beer, including some local brewers, is unlikely to break your budget at $ 2.69 (£ 1.69). T: 00 33 4 9148 4304.

Polikarpov: & nbsp; Deliberately cool retreat on the south side of Vieux Harbor. Open until 1.30pm, the hotel offers a sharp selection of vodka and spirits, a breeze atmosphere and a twist on the genre raft. & Nbsp;

La Dame Noir: & nbsp; The popular Place Notre-Dame du Mont drag, which combines late-night dance rhythms with a hip environment and, inevitably, a Japanese canteen. Open Tuesday through Saturday, Thursday through Saturday with DJ sets. & Nbsp;

Marseille Provence Airport is located 17 miles northwest of downtown. British Airways flies from Heathrow, Ryanair has services from Stansted, East Midlands and Edinburgh. EasyJet offers flights to Gatwick and summer service (June 22 - September 21) from Bristol. & Nbsp;

A shuttle bus runs between the airport and Marseille-Saint-Charles Train Station for 25 minutes, departing every 20 minutes between 5am and midnight: a one-off charge of EUR 8 (£ 6.76), a round trip of EUR 12.80 (£ 10.82) ). Official airport taxis cost from € 50 (£ 42). Trams, buses and two metro lines cross the center. & Nbsp;

Kirker Holidays offers three nights' accommodation at the Marseille Vieux Port's four-star Radisson Blu Hotel from £ 629 per person (based on two sharing), including return trips and private car transfers. & Nbsp;

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