Looking out across the azure Mediterranean sea, surrounded by rolling hills and the white limestone cliffs of the famous Calanques, Marseille enjoys a truly fantastic setting. And as many Marseillais will tell you, in that peculiar accent that foreigners find both alluring and tricky to understand, they love their city here, and they are proud of it too.
Top 3 Things to do in Marseille.
The Romano-Byzantine Cathedral of Notre Dame de La Garde
The most distinctive of Marseille's sights and one that should not be missed is the Romano-Byzantine cathedral of Notre Dame de La Garde. This imposing 19th-century building sits on Marseille's highest point, just south of the Vieux Port. Most stunning of all is the 9-metre / 30-foot high golden Virgin perched on top of the basilica's bell tower. The bell itself is impressive, measuring 2.5 metres / 8 feet in height and weighing in at 8,324 kg. Inside, the domed basilica is intricately decorated with coloured marble and murals. The crypt is also open to visitors.
One of Marseille's most popular tourist attractions, the Château d'If is perhaps best known for its starring role in Alexandre Dumas' book, 'The Count of Monte Cristo'. Perched on the tiny island of If, the most famous resident of this 16th-century castle-turned-prison is Mirabeau, the hero of the French Revolution. The castle's cells are always popular with visitors, while the island itself also offers fantastic views of Marseille. The island can be reached by a short boat trip from the quai des Belges in the Vieux Port.
Located in the Panier district, this fine 17th-century building originally started out life as a workhouse and hospice. Nowadays, the building is used as a cultural and exhibition centre, and also houses Marseille's Archaeological Museum and the Musée des Arts Africains, Océaniens and Amérindiens, amongst other attractions. Particularly attractive is the main courtyard and its Italian baroque-style domed chapel.