- The old harbor and its energy
- The incredible seafood
- La bonne mère, a gigantic catholic cathedral
- Calanques, hidden beaches in the mountains
- Cute little districts with typical Provence streets, shops and creators.
I lived in Avignon (Vaucluse, FRANCE) for many years and I never took the time to travel and discover my area before 2019. In July 2018, I left my birthplace in Provence to travel to the United States of America for a year and I fell in love with the country but most importantly, I fell in love with traveling. When I came back to France in July 2019 I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that I didn’t even know my own region. So I started to wander, be curious, and explore my lovely Provence every time I could and today I decided to share this journey with you.
Let’s start my Provence tour with Marseille. What an incredible city!
I have never been to Marseille before, so in February 2020 I just took my car and drove there. I started the day by walking through the district called “Le panier” (which means the basket in French), it is very famous and visited but there isn’t any monument to see. It is just a simple district with cute little streets and shops most of them being independent creators and i find it lovely! This district is amazing, it’s the kind of place where you feel at home even if you just visited it for the first time. I totally recommend it.
Then I continued my walk and ended up in front of an incredibly Beautiful catholic cathedral nicknamed La Major, its real name being Sainte-Marie-Majeure cathedral of Marseille. I was astonished by the beauty of the architecture from the outside and then I went in and discovered such a beautiful building, all the ornaments and decoration make it a piece of art. Even if you aren’t Catholic (which is my case), I recommend you to go there and just sit for a minute, take time to think, or just enjoy the beauty of the place, totally worth it.
Not far from this Cathedral there is the most famous museum of Marseille, the MUCEM (European and Mediterranean civilizations museum). I didn’t take the time to visit the whole museum but I did enjoy the very atypical architecture of the building and the rooftop which provides an incredible view of the harbor.
After the museum, I wanted to go to the old harbor, the heart of the city, so I walked alongside the Mediterranean sea through a little path. This path is made of little bridges and beautiful green places where you feel like you’re hidden from the city, so cute and so typical of Provence’s landscapes. I ended up on the old harbor and walked through it, amazed with the view: The boats and the sea mixing with the buildings of the city. This place is so charming, there you can find hundreds of restaurants and souvenir shops but I would recommend you to go a little deeper in the city to find better restaurants and a more authentic experience. So I went inside the small streets instead of the big touristy boulevard and ate a fish restaurant called “L’effet clochette” where I ate an aïoli ( a typical Mediterranean course composed of fish, vegetables and garlic mayonnaise ). This place is so tiny and cute, the owners are so welcoming and funny, it a family business lead by people from Marseille who will advise you on places to go and things to do without any hesitation.
After my lunch break, I took a bus straight to the most famous place of Marseille: Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica which is upon the hill so it provides an amazing overview of the whole city. It is also called “La bonne mere” because of the gigantic golden statue of Marie which sits on the top of the cathedral. Because of its location and the big golden statue you can see the cathedral from down the hill in the city. The view was amazing and I really loved it but I didn’t stay too long because it was so windy which is totally usual Marseille.
And I finally to a bus back down in the city and ate ice cream on the harbor, ice cream with a view!
What a day! Incredible city, amazing views, great treats, walk along the sea, what else could I ask for?
Well, there is another thing I could have asked for: beaches and some chilling time! So I got it when I visited again during summer 2020. With some friends, we went to Calanque de Sormiou to spend the day. To have access to the beach and swim you need to do a little hike and walk for about half an hour. I would recommend you to wear appropriate shoes because it could be a difficult walk with rocks and sand every now and then. But I can tell you that the view and the place are more than worth the little hike! Calanques are small hidden beaches hidden in the wild just 10minutes away from the city, Marseille is well known for its Calanques but so does Cassis or even Corsica.
I hope you liked this article about Marseille and I want to thank you for reading it all the way through. If you come to visit Provence one day (east southern France), I’m sure you’ll have a stop in Marseille. Don’t hesitate to share the places you liked the most with me, I’m always eager to discover new places.