Dubbed the European Capital of Tradition Marseille has brilliantly balanced outdated and new
France’s oldest metropolis is known for lots of issues in addition to bouillabaisse and its shady previous (keep in mind “The French Connection”). However Marseille appears to have shaken off its seedy picture and has much more going for it than fish soup.
It was deservedly dubbed in 2013 the European Capital of Tradition and has brilliantly balanced outdated and new, notably in futuristic structure and artwork installations smack up towards centuries-old buildings.
Nothing depicts this higher than the MuCEM, the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, which hyperlinks this architectural marvel to the 17th-century Fort Saint-Jean by a footbridge—outdated actually meets new—on the harbour.
The glass constructing wrapped in lacy concrete is motive sufficient to go to. We spent a number of hours right here: the galleries home everlasting and short-term exhibitions specializing in Mediterranean historical past and tradition and the cafes have outside seating with views of the harbour – the Vieux (Outdated) Port.
Greatest to start out your day, early morning, with a stroll across the harbour when the fishing boats return with their catch. You can too take a bit of ferryboat, often called the “world’s shortest transport line”, throughout the Vieux Port.
Right here is the unbelievable Norman Foster-designed Ombrière. Put in in 2013, this huge cover of stainless-steel mirrors the sky and water and displays photographs of individuals strolling beneath.
The Vieux Port is just about the identical deep-water harbor that Greek sailors found in 600BC. Story goes that they went ashore and gate-crashed a celebration the native chieftain had organized to marry off his daughter. Princess Gyptis fell for Protis, the good-looking Greek commander, and he was given a buying and selling publish known as Massalia as a marriage current.
A newer story, circa 18th century, tells how a sardine blocked the harbour (the Marseillais are inclined to exaggerate) and naturally the Chateau d’If, constructed as a fortress in 1524 on an islet half a mile offshore (catch a ship journey from the harbour) and later grew to become Marseille’s Alcatraz, is the setting for Alexandre Dumas’s fictional basic, The Rely of Monte Cristo.
Le Panier is town’s oldest neighborhood and residential to many artists’ studios and eating places and funky boutiques showcasing native designers. It’s additionally a working-class neighbourhood, the place a maze of slender streets appears to be joined by washing traces above. Pedestrian pleasant, we took a self-guided strolling tour by following enamelled plaques set within the floor and noticed a lot of the outdated city in a couple of hours.
Right here is the Hospice de la Charite, constructed by Louis XIV within the late 1600s to deal with the poor. The white-domed constructing now homes a macabre assortment of mummified animals, shrunken human heads and adorned skulls. (Be aware: metropolis museums shut Mondays, Nationwide museums shut Tuesdays.)
For one thing extra upbeat, hone your petanque recreation (a garden recreation performed with balls) and bone up on the sport’s historical past on the Maison de la Boule. Stroll down Rue St. Francoise to Comptoir O Huilles for an olive oil tasting and it’s additionally an honest restaurant.
However save dessert for Le Glacier du Roi in La Lenche Sq. – the ice cream made with orange blossom is pleasant. Additionally made with orange blossom is the navette, a symbolic biscuit of Provence that needs to be (I used to be advised) purchased on the well-known ‘Navettes des Acoules’ however I couldn’t style what all of the fuss is about.
Marseille streets and alleys are lined with eating places; looks as if nobody cooks at residence. We had terrific aubergine (eggplant) lasagne and octopus salad at Paule & Kopa, in Place aux Huiles, a touristy however peaceable sq. lined with palm bushes and eating places one block from the bustling port.
The Marseillas could have a more healthy eating regimen than the remainder of France: possibly on account of its shut proximity to Italy and Africa, olive oil is a staple and replaces butter in nearly every part. Even the goodies at L’Esperantine de Marseille are made with olive oil, and no sugar added.
After lunch we walked by the Opera District and as much as the market at Noailles within the Arab district. Store for spices at Epices du Monde and each kitchen gadget conceivable at La Maison Empereur, the oldest ironmongery shop in France. Refill on the well-known Marseille cleaning soap, once more made with olive oil, and upstairs is a treasure trove of housewares.
You possibly can’t go to Marseille with out visiting Notre Dame de la Garde. The “petit practice Marseille” is totally touristy, comes with an audio information and one of the best ways to see town—overlook driving and parking. The Marseillais come to this eccentric neo-Byzantine church on the metropolis’s highest level to gentle candles and provides thanks for blessings obtained. Trying down on town, the tiny Ile d’If and the glowing sea, they have to know there’s a lot to be grateful for.
If You Go
We stayed on the cozy and stylish Le Couvent within the Panier district. This former convent is a small boutique resort with tastefully furnished apartment-size suites and kitchenettes. The pleasant and useful house owners carried our suitcases bulging with soaps and spices, French linens and kitchen paraphernalia up and down the steps—no elevator. fonderievieille.com
Air France flies direct to Paris from Vancouver and we took the practice from the Gare de Lyon to Marseille.