Marseille

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Marseille (Latin: Massilia) [1] is the second most populated city of France (and third urban area) the biggest mediterranean port and the economic center of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.

Marseille old harbour, by Albert Lee

Contents

Understand

Marseille has a complex history. It was founded by the Phoceans (from the greek city of Phocea) in 600 B.C. and is one of the oldest cities in Europe. The town is a far cry from the Cézanne paintings and Provençal clichés of sleepy villages, "pétanque" players and Marcel Pagnol novels. With around one million inhabitants, Marseille is the second largest city in France in terms of population and the largest in terms of area. Its population is a real melting pot of different cultures. It is also said that there are more Comorian people in Marseille than in Comoros! Indeed, the people of Marseille have varying ethnic backgrounds, with a lot of Italians and Spanish having immigrated to the area after the second world war.

For people not afraid to discover a real place with real people, Marseille is the place. From colourful markets (like Noailles market) that will make you feel like you are in Africa, to the Calanques (a natural area of big cliffs falling into the sea - Calanque means fjord), from the Panier area (the oldest place of the town and historically the place where newcomers installed) to the Vieux-Port (old harbor) and the Corniche (a road along the sea) Marseille has definitely a lot to offer.

Forget the Canebière, forget the "savon de Marseille" (Marseille soap), forget the clichés, and just have a ride from l'Estaque to Les Goudes. You will not forget it.

Get in

By plane

Marseille-Provence International Airport (IATA: MRS) [2] is located about thirty kilometers from Marseille. Buses, taxis and now train connect in less than 30 minutes. (Shuttles every European cities in Marseille has made more places available from Marseille. [3]

By train

The main train station is Marseille St. Charles. It is well-linked to the rest of the city, as the two subway lines and many buses stop there. It is a short walk away from the Canebière and the Old Port. Beware that the station is located on a small hill : if you decide to go the station by foot, you will have to climb a series of steps that could prove very unappealing, especially if you carry heavy pieces of luggage.

Marseille has TGV lines to Paris (3 hours) and Lyon (1 hour 45), Nice (2 hours) and to Brussels (5 hours).

From Barcelona, there is a connection to Cerbère, from which there are regular trains to Marseille; also a night train.

By bus

Eurolines [4] has many connections all over Europe. From Marseille there are at least direct connections to Barcelona, Prague and Tangier. The bus station is next to the main train station, the St. Charles Station at Rue Honnorat. You get access through Platform N in the train station. There is also a temporary office at Platform N.

There is also an Eurolines office on the 3 Allée Léon Gambetta; If you walk down the big stairs on the southside of the station, follow the road until you come to a squarelike intersection. The office is on your right hand.

By car

Marseille is very well connected to most French cities through numerous highways. As always in France those highways are expensive but practical, comfortable and fast. Marseille is around 8 hours from Paris by car, 2 hours from Nice, 1h30 from Montpellier, 4 hours from Toulouse and 3 hours from Lyon. However, be aware that driving in the city centre is a nightmare - park your car somewhere safe and stick to public transport when ever you can.

By boat

Marseille has a big harbour. There are direct ferry routes from Marseille to Ajaccio, Bastia, Porto Torres, Porto Vecchio and Propriano. There are several piers at the harbour, so it is advisable to check well in advance from which pier you are departing.

Get around

By bus, tramway, subway

Marseille is served by a transit system, the Régie des Transports de Marseille (RTM) comprising 2 subway lines, 2 tram lines and 74 bus lines. If you have any mobility problems, are in a wheel chair or have a child in a push chair, you should be aware that almost every métro station has steps in it somewhere and some will have several flights of stairs - stick to the trams and buses which are a better option.

The tickets for bus/métro can be bought in the cafes, at the subway stations, or on the bus; it is advised to buy a multi journey ticket (carte libertés) at 6.30€ (5 voyages) or 12.60€ (10 voyages), which are not sold in the buses. The number of transfers is unlimited (including the return journeys) within the one-hour limit between the first boarding and last transfer on all the network (you must validate with each entry to the bus). Be careful! The subway closes at 10.30p.m. except Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings (until 12:30 a.m). The tram system operates until 12:30 a.m. 7 days a week. Most bus routes do not operate after 9:00 p.m. or so, although a limited network of night buses (Fluobus) operates with infrequent service (only about every 45-60 minutes or so) until about 12:30 a.m. or so. Using a taxi is recommended if you need to travel after 9:00 p.m.

See the site of Pilote [5], which repeats the schedules of all the buses, tram, and subways of the RTM but is more readable that the official site of the latter. Moreover, this site repeats the schedules of the majority of transport in common runs of the agglomeration (tram, bus interurban, trains regional) and makes it possible to make search of routes on Marseilles and the nearby communes.

Airport transfers are available for 8.50€ each way to/from Gare St Charles. Tickets may be bought at an outdoor structure between Hall 1 and Hall 3/4 of the main terminal and at a separate kiosk in the new Gare Routière, after Voie N in the Gare St Charles. The bus runs every 20 minutes on 10, 30, and 50 minutes past the hour. The ride is about 30 minutes. The bus says Navette Aeroport Gare St Charles on it. From Gare St Charles, the metro can get you to most hotels.

Metro tickets allow unlimited transfers within 1 hour of initial use for the base 1.70€ fare but does not include re-entry (1 hour limit) to the subway. A daily ticket (carte journée) costs 5.00€.

By boat

A Ferry Boat crosses the Old Harbour (Vieux Port). It is a tourist attraction in itself known as the shortest commercial boat ride in Europe.

By car

Avoid taking your car if you possibly can. Marseille, at least the centre, has narrow streets, one-way streets, random lane changes and so on which can drive both locals and non-locals crazy. The local drivers have a well deserved reputation for fearlessness - particularly if they are on two wheels. In addition, Marseille has some of the lowest parking fines in France - parking fines are rarely enforced and consequently you will find cars parked (and sometimes double parked) everywhere.

Due to the new tunnel that is being built to try to alleviate some of Marseille's traffic problems, satellite navigational systems such as the Tom Tom are likely to be out of date and dangerous if followed. For instance, following a Tom Tom in the centre of Marseille could take you across newly installed pedestrian areas or Tram lines. The one-way system has also completely changed.

By taxi

Be careful of rogue taxi drivers. While there aren't many, there are a few and a €20 ride can quickly become a €40 ride. If you think you've been cheated get the taxi driver's number (located in the rear of the car, often on the window) and go to the Tourist's Office at 4, La Canebière (near Le Vieux Port) and speak to a representative, they can and will get your money back if you've been ripped off. They will also get the taxi driver in significant trouble.

By Bicycle

Marseille has the excellent le vélo [6] cycle hire scheme in place as well as plenty of cycle paths, this makes it possible to get round the city quickly and very reasonably.

See

View over the city
Palais Longchamp


Outside of town

Do

Cultural Events

As European Capital of Culture 2013, Marseille is planning great cultural changes and events for the coming years. So far, the main cultural events are:

Night Life

Budget

Shamrock Irish Pub 17, quai de Rive-Neuve

O'Brady's Irish Pub 378, avenue de Mazargues

Mid-Range

Le Trolleybus 24 quai de Rive Neuve

Le Cozy Bar 1 rue du Chantier

Splurge

Le Mystic 141 route Léon Lachamp


Sports

Soccer: Marseille is home to the soccer team Olympic Marseille, also know as OM. OM competes in Ligue 1 (League 1) and has many successful seasons over the years. The team plays in Stade Vélodrome (Vélodrome Stadium) which has a capasity roughly 60,000.

File:Stade-velodrome-renovation-impots.jpg
Stade Velodrome-( www.impots-economie.com)

Sailing: Sailing is a very popular sport in Marseille. The location on the Mediterranean makes it a haven for sailors around the world.

Learn

Marseille is home to many universities and has a reputation for great education. The universities have a wide array of focuses from art to business.

École d’Architecture de Marseille- (Marseille School of Architecture) 184, avenue de Luminy

Institut de Mathématiques de Luminy- (Luminy Institute of Mathematics) 163, avenue de Luminy

Euromed Ecole de Management- (Euromed School of Management) 65, Boulevard Balthazar Blanc

Université Aix-Marseille III- (Aix-Marseille University III) 3, avenue Robert-Schuman

Eat

Unsurprisingly, Marseille's cuisine is focused on fish and seafood. Its two flag-bearing specialities being the famous fish broth "bouillabaisse" and aïoli, a garlic sauce served with vegetables and dried cod.

La Bouillabaisse de Marseille

La bouillabaisse is an excellent fish-based soup served with la rouille (a garlic-saffron sauce) and bread similar to crostini. La bouillabaisse cannot be enjoyed at any budgetary level. If you are invited to the home of someone making bouillabaisse, then you are in the clear. Never eat cheap bouillabaisse at a resto unless it's not called bouillabaisse; only eat it out if you have to reserve in advance. Bouillabaisse is a meal...first the soup, then the fish.

Budget

There are lots of Kebab restaurants along the Canebière. Many cheap, authentic couscous eateries are to be found around the Cours Belsunce, where the local Maghrebic immigrants have their lunch.

Mid-range

Many affordable restaurants with sunny terraces are to be found on Cours Julien, a pedestrian-only street near the Canebière and the "Plaine"

Splurge


Drink

Sleep

Budget


Mid-range

Splurge

Contact

Le Vieux Port has WiFi access, available from many of the bars and restaurants, and in some places in the street (although there are not many places to sit). The ESSID to use is "Marseille sans fil" and the network is not encrypted. When you first connect, your browser will take you to a web page about the service in French: simply click on "Cliquez ici" ("Click here") on that page to use the network freely.

Note WiFi is pronounced wee-fee or wiffy in French - even by English speakers. Asking for Why-Fye will usually be greeted by a blank look.

Stay safe

Note that there are many reports of muggings and pickpockets so avoid carrying valuables and always watch your surroundings especially near shady people. Like in most cities, you will want to stay away from Gare St Charles and the upper part of La canebière at night. Most of the northern neighbourhoods, known as "quartiers nords", are sensitive areas and should be avoided by tourists.

The area around Boulevard Michelet thrives with prostitutes and should be avoided on soccer nights, as you can meet potentially angry and drunk Olympique de Marseille hooligans.

When driving a car, make sure the doors are locked. There have been occurences of motorcyclists opening the doors of cars while the driver is sitting in it, and quickly snatching the bags and valuables from the seats.

Overall the city is fairly safe, as is Paris, so there is no need for paranoia !

Cope

Consulates

Get out

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