Travel overview of Marseille, France
One of the oldest and biggest cities in France (second only to Paris), Marseille, is located along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. As the administrative capital of France it boasts of the largest commercial port in the country. Marseille is a major tourist destination with a lot to offer. A feast for the eyes await as historical landmarks and monuments abound; Phare de Sainte Marie which is a lighthouse built to mark the harbor; the Cathedral of Sainte-Marie-Majeure, built around the 4th century; Saint Laurent a 12th century church just to name a few. Aside from the eyes, it would be incomplete without the fabulous dining experience. Fine dining options abound in the city. The city is widely renowned for its Bouillabaisse soup and beverages such as the Panisse and Pastis. Marseilles is a city dubbed with many names such as a city of art and culture; a city of water with its 14 ports; a city of tourism and convention with over four million tourists in the past year; a city of commerce with its excellent shopping, a magnet for tourists and locals alike; a city in constant progression; and a city of cinema, being one of the most filmed places in France. Indeed, a dynamic experience can be had in a pulsating city such as Marseilles.
'Being here in France or playing for Madrid in Spain “ the only thing that motivates me is that when I score, there's a celebration in Marseilles “ and that's enough to keep me going!
Global superstar of soccer Zinedine Zidane, who has played for some of the best clubs in the world and captained France to many games, expressed his love for his home-city of Marseilles in these straightforward words when asked about what it is that has kept him going for over 20 years in pro-soccer.
Although Zidane has since retires, his words still remain relevant and pertinent, simply because pretty much every Marseilles resident has more or less the same feelings towards this city of intricate history and wounded beauty.
Marseilles, as far as its geographical location is concerned, is definitely much more blessed than almost every other French city one can think of. Located smack in the middle of the Mediterranean with naturally deep ports, it has been an important trading dock for over two millennia. The history of Marseilles is complex, to say the least. Thought to be founded originally by Turks, the city was quick to go under the Roman rule, as the westward expansion of Rome his the French soil. Being for over 1,500 under sporadic Roman rule has shaped up the city in most of its aspects, while a home rule of latter years has capped off the Marseilles identity.
The World War II brought tremendous upheavals in the life of Marseilles and her people, as a number of residents had to either flee or suffer. Incoming flux of European immigrants “ especially from Spain, Italy and Germany “ led to Marseilles being a temporary refugee camp. Many of those refugees have since settled in Marseilles, calling this beautiful city their adopted home.
Unlike other French holiday destinations, a tour of Marseilles will not wow you up with gorgeous beaches and pretty restaurants. Marseilles is pretty much a working class city where, to have fun, you need to feel the pulse of the city first.
Finding Budget Lodging Options in Marseilles
As is mentioned right above, Marseilles is more or less a blue collar city where people love to mind their own business and typical French ideas of sunny mornings, roadside cafes and stranger tangoing to a homeless artist playing mad violin music don't hold true at all. this becomes even clearer when one takes into account the hard and cold fact that one thing Marseilles is best known for worldwide is its rather listless creation of savon de Marseilles “ that is, the Marseilles soap!
Marseilles loves to be practical and it's got no time to spare. So, considering that this is what the culture of the city goes like, it would be quite easy to imagine that there is no shortage of cheap hotels here in Marseilles.
Although these cheap hotels and lodges do not go out of their way to cater to the whims and fancies of their patrons, they definitely make sure that their guests are made to feel at home with warm hospitality and good food. Clean, spacious and hygienic rooms with all the basic facilities well in place mean that there really is no reason to look anywhere else!
Among these various affordable hotels in Marseilles, the top pick, as shown by our extensive research and first-hand experience, has to be the Ibis Budget Hotel Marseilles (Center Gare Saint Charles). It is a fabulous hotel that will surely take you aback with its nearly-luxurious show of hospitality “ that too at quite affordable prices!
Hermes Hotel can also be a great pick for this particular category. It's a small hotel that is preferred by business travelers who like to stay close to the business district of the city. It's affordable and neat “ pretty much all one could ask for at a price that is as low as $40 per night!
Luxury Hotels in Marseilles
Straying from the norm of simplicity, various luxury-class Marseilles hotels make it easy for style and comfort chasing tourists to make the most of their stay in Marseilles.
Here's our selection of three best luxury resorts in Marseilles:
- InterContinental Marseilles
- Villa Gallici
- Sofitel Marseilles Vieux Port
Independent and Boutique Hotels in Marseilles
After assessing budget and luxury accommodation options in Marseilles, the time is nigh to discuss various independent and boutique hotels in Marseilles that can offer a slightly different shade of hospitality.
Such options are usually divided across two categories: holiday rentals and small scale permanently renovated properties. To find holiday rentals, you have to look at the outskirts of the city, while to find small and adorable boutique properties, you can simply look nearby various sightseeing hotspots in the city.
The port area and the downtown area are in particular more likely to house such establishments.
Sightseeing in Marseilles: What Not to Miss Out on
Unlike your everyday French sightseeing roster, Marseilles will offer a whole lot of different palate in terms of sightseeing. Majority of sights in Marseilles are people-centric, unlike history-centric. So, the Vieux Port makes to the top of list just because it plays an important role in keeping the city economically balanced, plus it's a serene experience to see large ships and small boats sail the Mediterranean, with the backdrop provided by spotless and blue sky!
Besides the port, various museums, art galleries, churches and cathedrals, historic buildings, prominent cafes and state of the art libraries make up for much of the sightseeing itinerary of most tourists.
When Should You Visit Marseilles?
The best time to visit Marseilles is indeed the summer time, June and July. Of course, it can be easily speculated that Marseilles sees a heightened tourist frenzy during these months, fuelled by good weather and the swing of the summer.
Another reason to visit Marseilles during July “ in spite of Marseilles hotels upping their tariffs through the roof “ is to witness the intense two-week period of celebrations for the Bastille Day “ the commemorative day of the French Revolution.