Monday, 2 September 2013

5 Things to Do in Marseille

Written by Adrienne Erin


Travelling abroad opens the doors to many opportunities for travellers. Every location shows you something different - gives you a different sense of culture.  Marseille is one of the most colourful cities you can visit if you want to take in some culture - an eclectic mix of French and African spirit in a hilly, seaside city, it's a great place to get to know and love France.

Notre-Dame de la Garde

Translated, the name of this church literally means, "Our Lady of the Guard." Notre-Dame de la Garde was a Catholic church originally built in the 12th century, but eventually was abandoned.  In the hopes of being able to reuse the church, the original Notre-Dame de la Garde was rebuilt in the 15th century.

Photo Credit Adrienne Erin
While the church was a huge success, it failed to retain its structure due to a religious war ~ which ended in the demise of the Notre-Dame de la Garde.

In an effort to rebuild it in 1853, attempts were made to make it last for far longer. Carved from rock, this church has a lower church and an upper church decorated with mosaics, and it's not going anywhere soon. To give the church a more sentimental feeling, a bell tower was created and standing upon it is Madonna and Child. The pair, atop a tall tower in perhaps the highest vista in the city, seem like guardians, protecting the church and town from any threats.

This church is a large and prominent landmark in Marseille and is advised to be travelled through to really understand the significant religious feuds that took place in France.


A must-see in France, Chateau d'lf is one of the more notorious sites as it is located on a remote island located a mile from the Marseille shore.

Château d'If was the setting for the popular novel "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas (think high school reading assignment) in 1844. However, this small island was known for so much more throughout its years.


Photo Credit Adrienne Erin
Prior to the release of Dumas' book, the Château d'If was utilized as a military fortress. Heavily armed with weaponry, which is still located on the island, this private island was the perfect fortress to attack incoming enemies from, given its small size.

However, the military base was never utilized and was later abandoned for a short period of time. Eventually, it was turned into a prison - becoming one of the most feared in France. Like Alcatraz in California, this prison was perfect for keeping detainees away from the rest of humanity, given its remote location.
A major monument of Marseille, France, the Palais Longchamp was created in several parts:
  • The Chateau d'eau - A monument in the centre of the Palais Longchamp which features elaborate fountains and man-made waterfalls.
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts - One of the main museums in Marseille that has old painting collections, drawing collections and sculptures.
  • Musée d'histoire naturelle de Marseille - A natural history museum on the opposite end of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, with a number of exhibits about animals, plants, and dinosaurs from the region.
Photo Credit marcovdz
This neighbourhood is filled with excitement, entertainment and art. The classic story of a poor neighbourhood that was cleaned up and detoxed, it now boasts some of the best food and culture in the entire city.

Photo Credit marcovdz
Cours Julien is widely known though for its elaborate street art which covers most of the neighbourhood. What is even more fascinating is that it was all hand painted onto the walls ~ giving you a sense of community and artistry.

If you do not know your way around Marseille and do not feel comfortable travelling by yourself, the Greeters of Marseille Provence will work perfectly for you. 

Photo Credit Montecruz Foto
This free program, staffed entirely by local volunteers, matches you with someone who has spent their life living and working in Marseille.  They show you around the city and give you a sense of what it's like to live and work in this vibrant coastal city.

Author Bio
Adrienne is a freelance writer and Francophile whose love of travel was ignited by her experience studying abroad in Paris. She travelled extensively in France to practice her language skills, and also travelled abroad to a number of European countries to visit friends, family, and sites that had interested her for years. Read her personal blog, Pongra, to see more of her work