The old city of Marseille!!

Indeed it is old. I happened to come here many years ago on a business trip and then on a solo run by train. Its another jewel of my belle France even the problems of a big entry city to France.  This is the old city of Marseille. Let me update this older post for you and I ,and hope you enjoy it as I.

The old city by the harbor bringing in the civilizations of all Europe and beyond, a melting pot of old nations and new ones. This is Marseille.  Why not talk about the city of the Mediterranean and especially it’s old harbor or vieux port.  The city lies in the department 13 Bouches-du-Rhône in the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. Oldest city in France founded in 600BC as Massalia by Greek fisherman. It has 57 km of coast including 24 km of rocky inlets or calanques, that are just magnificent. It is from Rouget de Lisle, in 1792, creates at Strasbourg an hymn called the song of war of the army of the Rhine. This hymn was edited and comes to Marseille that had welcome the French revolution with enthusiast. This ,then becomes the La Marseillaise the French National Anthem.

Marseille is the second biggest city in France and it has everything Paris has for leisure cinemas, theaters, operas, parks entertainment ,all! But let me update on the old harbor or vieux port where I spent most of my time there.

marseille-out-to-axi-en-provence jun08

As said, have come here a couple times one time by plane and the other by train, how about that ,need to come by car lol!!! The train station is gare St Charles and I came from gare de Lyon in Paris. The airport is Marseille and I came from Roissy CDG on terminal 1.  On the plane I came in and took a taxi to my destination and on the train walk down to the Vieux Port,less than 2 km easy! 

marseille gare st Charles train station jul10


marseille-steps-lead-to-st-charles-train-station jun08

There are two fortress at the entrance to the old harbor or thereafter Vieux-Port built by king Louis XIV to protect the city in the 17C, the fort Saint Nicolas remains now occupied by the French army. The fort Saint-Jean built in the 15C is now host of the museum of civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean or musée des civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée. From the old arsenal galleries today only remains the harbormaster house.  The Ferry Boat which was so dear to Marcel Pagnol sets off from the City/Town Hall several times a day across the Vieux Port. It was started in June 1880 and thus began the famous Mairie-Place aux Huiles journey. In 2010, a more eco-friendly Ferry Boat with an electric solar propeller took to the water. Now two ferry boats share the Vieux-Port.

marseille-walking-to-vieux-port jun08

The Knights Templar commander stood on the site of the Church Saint Ferréol in the 12C. After the suppression of the Order and the disappearance of its members, Augustinian monks bought the buildings in 1369. They began building the gothic church which was consecrated in 1542 but only completed in 1588. The Italian-style bell tower dates back to the 18C. It was built as a parish in 1803 in the name of Saint Ferréol in memory of the collegiate of the same name which was destroyed in 1794. The church originally had 5 bays and 12 lateral chapels but urban planning destroyed two of the bays in 1804. After the opening of Rue Impériale (now Rue de la République),the new Neo-Baroque façade was done. The official religious Saint Ferréol webpage:

The entry to the harbor was protected by a long chain across it and closed at night. It was taken by the Spanish during an attack and pillage of the city in 1423. The chain is now in the Cathedral of Valencia Spain. And something the Spanish used later on the new world cities such as Havana harbor.  The quays or quais were built in the 15C to 17C and by the end of the 16C the two oldest buildings in town were built, the hôtel de Cabre and the Maison diamantée. In 1666 king Louis XVI ordered the extention of the city with ramparts destroyed and the city extended to the borders of the harbor.

A final extension happened in 1844 with a new basin or bassin de la Juliette and two link the two a new road is built called rue Impériale, today call the rue de la République. In 1849, the waters of the Durance river arrived and to honor it the palais Longchamp is built in 1869; a whole industrial heaven in Marseille. In 1845, the train station or Gare Saint Charles is built on a hill; in 1848,the promenade de la Corniche was created. To move about in the old harbor what do you have…well plenty other than walking which is great I used to walk from Saint Charles to the vieux port! you have by vélo stations at the quai du Port are to from Hôtel de Ville, Beauveau / Suffren , and Place aux Huiles. The metro is at Vieux-Port to Hôtel de ville on line 1. And if go by car done once too, you take the tunnel Prado Carénage exit:sortie Vieux-Port. Several underground parkings available such as mine Parking Vieux-Port la Criee entrance at 129 quai de Rive-Neuve.

Right around the above parking I used, you have the museum or musée de savon de Marseille (or marseille soap museum). If we take the other side of the harbor on quai du port going into the place Vivaux, you have the museum or Musée de Docks Romains or the museum of the history of Marseille (a must). And right on the quai du port, you get the start of the little train or petit train (take circuit 2) always a family favorite. Back to the other side , there is another Church worth going to see this is the Church of Saint Laurent at 16 Esplanade de la Tourette near the Forst Saint Jean spoken above. Very nice old Churh with foundations going back to 840.

A couple of my favorite places to eat business or pleasure are: . For a grand gastronomic meal à la Française try the restaurant La Nautique in a floating peniche boat. webpage: and a bit more on land on the same quai as the above parking ,museum, and restaurant you have a more inexpensive but good resto in the Au Vieux Port (now change management to Brasserie Sur le Port) ; webpage:

The Marseille tourist office:

The city of Marseille on history and heritage:

My Provence Bouches du Rhône tourist board on Marseille:

The Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur (PACA) tourist board on Marseille:

Hope you enjoy the tour, small one but believe enough to tell you Marseille should be in your travel plans; it’s a vibrant city, and if stayed around the Vieux Port is a magical experience.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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9 Comments to “The old city of Marseille!!”

  1. I like Marseille but couldn’t live there because of the Mistral

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A city near to the top of my ‘must visit’ list

    Liked by 1 person

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