Hotels in Marseille (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France)
Hotels in Marseille
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Marseille – Gritty yet Cultured Melting Pot on the Mediterranean
From its founding by Greek mariners in 600 BC, through to the mass movements from North Africa to metropolitan France in the mid 20th century, and on to the present day, Marseille has always attracted settlers from far and wide. Like with most great port cities, it was the ability to trade and settle among familiar faces that attracted group after group. The result is that modern Marseille offers its visitors varied attractions and places of interest, influenced by countless peoples that have called this great port city home over the centuries.
The Old Port and the Heart of the City
Any discussion of Marseille must inevitably start with its port. The city itself has experienced much sprawl over the years, so that it is now the largest metropolitan area in all France – by area, if not population. Its very existence, however, is due to its port, and most tourists and other visitors make a bee-line for the Old Harbour area on arrival. This charming district has the city’s best hotels, street life and nightlife, and is the place to be to really get an intimate understanding of the city and its origins. An excellent variety of cafes and restaurants are located right on the quays, and are the perfect places to sit and view the pedestrian and maritime traffic. Since this is the oldest part of the city, there’s no shortage of historical attractions either. A great place to start is the Historical Museum of Marseille. Housed in a strikingly modern building, it traces the long history of the city in a series of informative displays. It also contains the archaeological remains of the classical Greek city, including the fascinating necropolis. Lovers of high culture can head to the Marseille Opera House for a variety of live performances, including by the highly regarded Opéra Municipal.
In the Footsteps of the Count of Monte Cristo
It’s perhaps difficult to grasp whilst enveloped in the cocoon that is the Old Harbour area, but visitors would be well advised to realise that there is much more to Marseille than just this small section of the city. Lovers of Alexander Dumas’ work should consider heading a little out of town to the Chateau d’If. Romantically set on a rocky island in the bay, it is not only a major setting for Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo, but also a prison fortress. Like island prisons the world over, it is well known for having held prominent political and religious leaders that upset the rulers of the day. Naturalists not keen to make the journey all the way out to the Camargue, may have some luck spotting the region’s famous pink flamingos at Etang de Bere. It is just beyond the airport and is also a very popular spot with kitesurfers and other watersport enthusiasts. Finally, those with limited time who are unable to explore Provence at leisure could consider making a day trip to nearby Aix-en-Provence. This town is just 17 miles inland and visitors won’t even need to check out of their Marseille hotel room in order to get a great taste of Provencal life, with its unique sights, sounds and aromas.
Calanques, Islands and Beaches
The beaches and coastal areas on the Riviera, far to the east of Marseilles, are perhaps far better known, but if visitors are intrepid and manage to gain access to the remote islands and bays nearby they will certainly be in for a surprising treat. The coastline to the east and west of the city is known for its calanques - massive and sheer white cliffs interspersed with tranquil bays that often contain secluded and exquisitely beautiful beaches. Summer access to the bays is either by way of private boat, or longish walks from the nearest road access. The effort is generally worthwhile, since the scenery is beautiful, the water an intense aquamarine and the crowds are generally put off by the effort required to access the bays. Visitors can consider an all-inclusive boat charter in order to access the more remote bays. There are also a number of islands in the bay, some accessible by ferry and others requiring a private charter. Riou Island is one of the largest in the area and is well known for the sheer cliffs on its southerly shore and its adorable little beach and bay in the north.
Hotels in Marseille
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City Districts - Marseille
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