Destination Marseille, France: Insider Tips for the Ancient City on the Mediterranean
Think of Marseille as a seedy port city? Mafia ridden? Trash in the streets? Think again. With new hotels and restaurants, a vibrant arts scene, and the proud distinction of being European Capital of Culture for 2013, Marseille is undergoing a renaissance. What's more- Marseille is just a mere three hours from Paris on the TGV (gotta love the speedy French trains). The Informed Traveler just spent some time on the Mediterranean checking out the town. Our verdict? We'd go back in a heartbeat.
Where to stay: The Radisson Blu Vieux Port has an enviable location right on the old port, its business class and Vieux Port rooms opening directly onto the harbor, with sweeping views over the yachts and fortified towers and stone ramparts at the port's entrance. Service is friendly, the buffet breakfast is quite the spread, and comfortable rooms come with all the latest technology (and Anne Semonin bath products). You'll find Nespresso coffee machines in the Vieux Port rooms and suites- which also come with lots of free extras (think VIP welcoming, buffet breakfast, and Pay TV box office movies). Another perk: The Radisson Blu has a partnership with the exclusive Cinq Mondes spa, which opened recently just a stone's throw from the hotel's front door.
Where to eat: Book a table at the Michelin-starred Une Table Au Sud, helmed by Lionel Lévy, a disciple of Alain Ducasse. Sample fresh fish and inspired bouillabaisse while gazing out at the lights on the harbor, watched over by Marseille's famous church, Notre Dame de la Garde, perched on a hilltop overlooking the city.
What to see: Check out the morning fish market right on the Vieux Port where fishermen (and women) hawk their catch. Stroll through the streets of the city's historic heart, the Panier, where small alleyways are lined with colorful houses strung with clothes-lines. Atmospheric and marvelous. Stop at La Compagnie de Provence for some luxury bath products, as Marseille is famous for its soap. If the sun is shining, take the ferry to Chateau d'If, the island fortress that inspired the story of the Count of Monte Cristo.
For more information, visit the Marseille Tourism Office.
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