Marseille : A Multicultural Port City Spurring with Palpable Optimism and Swanky New Museums

Marseille : A Multicultural Port City Spurring with Palpable Optimism and Swanky New Museums

Marseille exuberantly exists as a multicultural port city along the Provençal coastline. Its vibrant old port is famous for luxurious yachts and boats. Being France’s black sheep, it has been overlooked as an ideal destination for sightseeing. It, however, offers a plethora of activities tourists with a sense of rebellion and freedom will enjoy. These are some of the top sightseeing places of Marseille.

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Marseille : A Multicultural Port City Spurring with Palpable Optimism and Swanky New Museums

1. Old Port of Marseille

The port is known by the locals as Vieux Port. It was once a docking station for boats arriving from Africa. This is one of the most lively areas around Marseille. Famous for the marina filled with luxurious yachts and stylish boutique hotels, it offers a lively atmosphere for the classy tourist. One can go sightseeing the various boat and yacht designs or indulge in food and drink from the many waterfront cafes and seafood restaurants. This is also a great opportunity to sample some mullet and lobster from the market. If you wish to get to the other side of the port, a ferry ride is available at 1 Euro per person.

2. Notre-Dame de la Garde

Notre-Dame de la Garde is a famous symbol for the city of Marseille as it was built at the highest natural point of the city. This Catholic basilica is composed of a lower level church that is curved from rock having a Romanesque style. The upper level is decorated with mosaics that follow a Neo-Byzantine style. The architecture of the church is what tourists enjoy sightseeing as it is very interesting and unique. There is also a Madonna and child copper statue that should not be missed. The church is also easily accessible via metro number 60 from the port. Entrance is also free.

3. Calanques National Park

Photo by Gaspar Janos/

Located at the heart of Aix-Marseille-Provence, Calanques National Park is the 10th national park in the France region and was established in 2012. This unique park is the only one of its kind around Europe. Most of the area is marine area leaving only 85km² to land. This means that most of the area is coastal ranges surrounded by several islands. The biodiversity is so rich, this park is home to over 140 terrestrial animal and plant species. Over 60 marine species have found habitat at this park.

4. Château d'If

Photo by alphis tay

The Château d'If is a fortress prison standing on the smallest island within the Château bay area of Marseille. It was built back in 1524 by Francois. This castle served as a jail for the people who were against the royal power hence gaining a fearsome reputation. Since it has remained well-preserved, it stands out as one of the most impressive historical monuments of Marseille. Tourist sightseeing get to learn more about the history of the prison. Entrance is around 5.50 Euros with minors getting free admission.

5. Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations

Photo by trabantos/

The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations got inaugurated in 2013 when Marseille attained status as the capital of culture within the European region. Most of the collections available for sightseeing are however of Egyptian origin. There is a vast collection of archaeological objects if you wish to get acquainted with that part of history. Expect to also find some famous artworks from painters such as Picasso. There are many photo opportunities within this museum as it is not restricted. Despite having ample space for lounging, it is rare that you would want to sit with all the many exhibits. Seniors over 65 also get to enjoy free admission!

6. Marseille Cathedral

Also known as Cathédrale de la Major, is not only just a Roman Catholic church but also considered a national monument in France. This huge cathedral has experienced restorations that aim to preserve its charm. The exterior has faced much popularity with locals even nicknaming it 'the pyjama building' which is only self-explanatory when you visit the church. The interior has maintained a Mediterranean style mosaic decoration with spacey domes. Despite not being a famous sightseeing destination for tourists, it still holds much importance to the Catholic community of Marseille.

7. Palais Longchamp

The Palais Longchamp is a monument that dates back to the 1860’s. It was once referred to as Napoleon's haunt. Palais Longchamp houses two important sightseeing museums of Marseille, the Muséum d'histoire Naturelle de Marseille, and Musée des beaux-arts. The structure is enormous and aligned with beautiful sculptures, breath-taking water fountains and a peaceful green park behind it. The architecture is what draws numbers of tourists to this site. Most locals of Marseille make use of the park especially for small events such as weddings.

8. Porte d'Aix

Porte d'Aix marks the entry point to Marseille from Aix-en-Provence. The architecture is worth marveling at however, it is all there is to see. There is no tour guide to take you through the history of this majestic arc. The homeless of Marseille have safeguarded the arc as their home and most of them can be found resting beside it. You may get great photo opportunities if lucky enough not to find the chance to as this point of entry is of much essence. The place is easily accessible from the main station and sightseeing can even take you 5 minutes.

9. La Vieille Charité

Photo by Mariia Golovianko/

La Vieille Charité was once an almshouse. It now serves as a cultural center also housing a museum. Situated in the Panier, it is famous for housing great Egyptian antiques together with other oriental artifacts. Temporary exhibits are mostly showcased in its lower floor. There is also a cafe that you can stop by for some snacks as you enjoy the grounds. Buildings around La Vieille Charité have a distinct feel to them especially with the art of architecture that surrounds them.

10. Parc Borély

Photo by Ulrike Haberkorn/

This public municipal park is one of the most notable gardens within the France region covering over 17 hectares of land. Parc Borély is adjacent to the beach and also close to Jardin Botanique. This park is popular for many activities such as biking, boating or even just enjoying a quiet picnic. Tourists sightseeing the park with their young families are not left out as there is a kids play area. It is one of the most adored gems of Marseille, especially during summer. The nature is also beautiful with different duck and raccoon species to be seen.

◎ Closing

Marseille may seem like a rough-around-the-edges type of metropolis but beyond its blemishes, it is a multicultural city bursting with character. There is so much liveliness that the sightseeing tourist will immerse themselves in. From its stylish boutiques, swanky museums to Haussmannian buildings, tourists will definitely enjoy the confidence of Marseille.