Nestled between sea and hills, Marseille is an amazing city that moves with the seasons and passions. Founded 2600 years ago, the oldest city in France combines the richness of a unique heritage, an intense cultural life, and an exceptional location.
Sometimes affectionate, sometimes rebellious, she loves to seduce the visitor who seldom resists the charm of 111 different districts, the mild climate and the secrets of its gastronomy.
Although it is France's second largest city, it has remembered and retained values of sharing that have shaped its territory for centuries and is still known as the "Phocaean city" in memory of the ancient Greeks from Asia Minor who founded the city here.
It is a port city with a strong identity, and has also kept abreast of the changes throughout time to become an important capital of the Mediterranean Basin open to the world .
A climate blessed by the Gods
With over 300 days of sunshine per year, the summer starts earlier in Marseille than elsewhere. The mistral, which blows 90 days per year, paints the Marseille sky of purity and unique light that some of the greatest artists ever put down on their canvases.
Status : Capital of the Bouches-du-Rhône department and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region
Area of the city : 241 km2 of which 100 km2 of natural area
Population : Second largest city in France with approximately 860 363 inhabitants
Mayor : Jean-Claude Gaudin since 1995
How to get here
By plane : with over 7.3 million passengers in 2011, Marseille-Provence airport is the 3rd most important French airport and the top low-cost air terminal in Europe. From here, there are a hundred routes to 26 countries
By train : The Mediterranean TGV reaches the centre of Marseille from the centre of Paris in just three hours. The St-Charles train station welcomes about 11 million passengers every year
By road :Three motorways lead to Marseille making the city a major motorway junction of the A7, A50 and A55.
The A7 comes from Aix-en-Provence and Salon-de-Provence
The A55 (coastal motorway) comes from Martigues, and joins the Prado Carenage tunnel that allows one to cross the city quickly to reach the A50 and the eastern neighbourhoods of the city
By boat : As a large cruise ship port, Marseille enjoys a privileged location, ensuring regular routes to Corsica, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Italy and Sardinia. More than 2.3 million passengers used the Marseilles docks in 2011
City of art and culture, Marseille has many a marvel to share with you. With 26 centuries of history, the city remains deeply marked by its past and displays many uncovered archaeological sites such as the ancient port.
These traces of the past guide the way, allowing residents and visitors alike to reconstruct history throughout the centuries.
The architectural, historical, cultural and social heritage of Marseille is ultimately the best way to discover the city at its most traditional - such as Notre-Dame de la Garde, the Saint-Jean and Saint-Nicolas forts in the Old Port, the Panier district - and there are also some unusual aspects to discover.
The Saint Jean Fort overlooks the Old Port
Numerous visits could still not uncover all of the many treasures of the city. Walks in the footsteps of the Estaque painters, or explore behind the scenes at the Vélodrome.
Among the essential visits, there is the cradle of Christianity in Europe symbolized by the Saint-Victor Abbey, or the Château d'If, the fortress built by Francis I off the coast of Marseilles and whose history is intimately linked to Edmond Dantes, the famous Count of Monte Cristo imagined by Alexandre Dumas.
Marseille is at the cultural forefront with 17 museums, 42 theatres and 7,000 cinemas.
It is a cultural melting pot now widely renowned by its appointment as European Capital of Culture in 2013. In this context, the twenty museums, covering all historical periods, from ancient to contemporary art, archaeology to Fine Arts, from tiles to motorbikes, compete in originality.
The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilization opens its doors in 2013
On the J4, close to the Old Port, the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilization (MuCEM) is working overtime to be ready for 2013.
Culture of the mind, science, art, including the art of living, exchanges; that has been the daily routine of Marseille for millennia. Culture made the city a land of festivals including the Festival of Sacred Music, the Marseille Festival dedicated to contemporary creation, the Jazz Festival with musicians from 5 continents and the Documentary Film Festival, among many others.
Marseille, the city of water
With 14 ports spread over 57 kilometres of coastline, Marseille is the largest yachting centre in France, and the second largest in Europe. From the exploration of the majestic coves, soon to be under the protection of the national park, the islands of Friuli, and the bay ; Marseille is one of the most beautiful sites in the world. All water sports obviously have their place here, from sailing to kayaking, diving sports and board sports. And it is no coincidence that the city has some of the best sports equipment in Europe, for example, the Palais Omnisports in Marseille Grand Est, which offers over 20,000 m2 for ice skating and urban board sports fans.
Marseille, a city of tourism and convention
Crossroads of civilizations and trade since ancient times, Marseille possesses a nature, land and sea heritage unique in its diversity. These assets, combined with a city in metamorphosis, have generated a vigorous revival of economic activity and has placed the city among the most popular tourist destinations.
The figures speak for themselves : over 4 million tourists in 2010, 12,000 direct jobs or 5.4% of total employment in Marseille, and over € 700 million of income.
In 2011, the city had 5,182 hotel rooms, 3.6% more than the previous year.
Marseille has also become one of the first ports of embarkation for the European cruise market, an interesting position given that the Mediterranean destination has the fastest growth.
As the top cruise centre in France, with more than one million passengers in 2012, Marseille reinforced its status as first port of embarkation in France with nearly 380 calls to port in 2011 for an estimated income of €110 million.
In less than 15 years, Marseille has tripled the number of Congress days hosted on its territory from 109,000 days in 1996 to almost 300,000 in 2011.
The city now has powerful and functional structures to accommodate some 350 events per year in places as diverse as the Palais du Pharo, the Palais des Congrés in the Chanot Park and the World Trade Centre.
A view of the future Vaults of the Major
Marseille is a market town par excellence with many advantages such as a catchment area of nearly 1.7 million people, 15,000 shops, and 4 million tourists including 820,000 cruise passengers.
The current commercial offer is structured around three major centres of attraction: the centre of Marseille and its 5000 shops, La Valentine and its some 180 stores offering quality home furnishings, culture and recreation and finally the Grand Littoral with 13 million visitors per year.
To maintain and further increase the expansion, new projects will strengthen the commercial dynamics of Marseille including :
Les Terrasses du Port, a project financed by an Anglo-Saxon investor and the first European Seaside shopping centre, which will house 160 shops and restaurants and is scheduled to open in late 2013
The creation of a large shopping and entertainment complex around the renovation of the Velodrome Stadium in 2014
TheCapelette commercial and leisure centre near the Palais Omnisports Marseille Grand Est
The Centre Bourse shopping centre in the heart of city, extended and enriched with an additional 5500m ²
The Voûtes de la Major, constituting part of the coastal improvement with a commercial offer oriented towards premium culture and recreation in 2013.
The new image of Marseille is attracting international investors and creating new jobs, especially in the tourism sector.
In 2010, the brand "Marseille Provence on the move" was launched to promote tourist attractions and the values of greater Marseille; it began as an initiative by the local tourism industry.
Marseille, a city in constant evolution
Silo Arenc, a 2000-seat theatre
Marseille is evolving. One only has to look at the large facilities erected on the J4 (the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilization and the Regional Mediterranean Centre), the Terrasses du Port which will offer more than 40,000 m2 of retail space, the successful rehabilitation of the Arenc Silo as a multipurpose auditorium with 2000 seats and the development of the facade of the Cathedral de la Major.
With Euroméditerranée, considered the largest urban renewal project in Europe, Marseilles is building a veritable strategic plan to reposition the port city, combining urban planning and port activity, high level cruising and yachting, around a welcome for tourists and cruise passengers.
Parallel to the tourism economy Marseille is increasingly concentrating on services. Networks of excellence in areas such as optics, health and multimedia are already generating thousands of jobs. This of course is of benefit to visitors, but also directly to Marseille with a policy by the municipality to create housing (5,000 dwellings are built per year, including 1500 public housing units) and with ambitious urban development operations such as the Grand Est Operation, from Capelette to Valentine, of which the Palais Omnisports is just one of the jewels. In line with the creation of the 26th centenary Park in 2001, the east entrance of Marseille has been given new life and has benefited from a development plan for the neighbourhoods east of the city similar to the Euroméditerranée project which boosted the northern districts of Marseille.
Marseille European Capital of Culture in 2013 : 400 events, 60 exhibitions, absolutely exceptional displays : Marseille will open its doors to the world since, in 2013, Marseille and indeed Provence has been designated European Capital of Culture.
From contemporary dance to gastronomy, from visual arts to theatrical arts, from scholarly seminars to public spaces art, festivals, museums and renovated or completely new facilities open to the public: everything is being planned to combine artistic and cultural excellence with public participation. Some ten million visitors are expected for a unique opportunity to (re) discover Marseille and Provence.
The European Football Championship 2016 : France will host the Euro 2016, in Marseille, at the completely renovated Vélodrome stadium.
As of 2014, the covered and extended Vélodrome Stadium will be able to accommodate 67,000 fans. This renovation is part of the creation of a veritable urban project. Shops, hotels, homes, offices and sports clinics will all find sufficient space in Marseille.
Marseille has already demonstrated its ability to host such events during the FIFA World Cup in 1998 and the Rugby World Cup in 2007.
Marseille loves the movies and cinema, something that becomes it well. It is the most filmed city in France after Paris. Its warm light, blue sea, its rich and varied heritage, and the simplicity of its inhabitants have long attracted filmmakers and inspired scenarists.
Marseille now holds a place of honour in French cinema, from the small to the big screen, and has the means consistent with its reputation.
Established on July 1, 2009, the Belle de Mai multi-media centre, the Mission du cinema et de l'audiovisual was created to manage the growth of the film industry. First logistics host structure of its kind in France; this service facilitates and supports efforts of film teams throughout the various stages of project development.
Marseille can now also rely on the Belle-de-Mai Media Centre, which has earned a prominent place in the French and international media landscape in just a few years. Unique in Europe for its concentration of businesses and activities linked with image and sound, among many others it houses "Les Studios de Marseille", which were chosen by the television channel France 3 to shoot "Plus Belle La Vie", one of the longest and most popular series ever made in France.
Marseille is also : a leading university town with 450,000 students, the second diplomatic city in France with more than 70 consulates, and the second largest research centre in the country.
Some specialties require no moderation : from the renowned bouillabaisse to the pieds et paques, Marseille pizza to soupe au pistou.
Not to mention the games of petanque dear to Marcel Pagnol to whom the city has paid a special tribute by renovating the Castle Buzine, the famous Chateau of his mother to which the Provencal author was particularly attached..
The Buzine, the "Castle of my mother", which was so dear to Marcel Pagnol
Marseille, virtual cards
Send an e-card ; it is free, fast and easy : choose a card, add your message and click to let people know that they have a virtual card waiting for them.
Showcase of Excellence for Marseille and its territory, a single and unique reception area for the greater public for Marseille-Provence 2013, exhibition centre and partners area ; the Marseille Pavilion is open to the public throughout 2013 and is located place Villeneuve Bargemon, close to the City Hall.
A vector for promoting the city, in the heart of its very territory, the "M" Pavilion is a powerful tool to reinforce the distribution of the programming for 2013 among the citizens of Marseille and visitors alike.
It includes :
A multiple-window public reception area, a central location for information about all programming for 2013, with reservations and tickets for all events in the area.
Practical information on accommodation, food and transport and much more.
It is a cultural and economic platform, and true showcase of local excellence (history, culture, heritage, traditions, gastronomy, tourism and international influence, economic performance and dynamism).
A permanent exhibition area where Marseille is revealed through a scenic and playful route, with another venue for temporary exhibitions
A place for cultural events.
Open every day from 10 AM to 7 PM (from January 12, 2013).