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The Republic of France


Marseille - France

Holiday in Marseille, FranceMarseille is the second largest city in France behind Paris, and the center of the third largest metropolitan area in France after Paris and Lyon. Located on the southeast coast of France, Marseille is France's largest city on the Mediterranean coast and largest commercial port. Marseille is the capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, as well as the capital of the Bouches-du-Rhône department. To the east, starting in the small fishing village of Callelongue on the outskirts of Marseille and stretching as far as Cassis, are the Calanques, a rugged coastal area interspersed with small fjords. Further east still are the Sainte-Baume which are a mountain ridge rising from a forest of deciduous trees at 1,147 meters or 3,763 feet in elevation. The town of Toulon and the French Riviera are beyond on the coast. To the north of Marseille, beyond the low Garlaban and Etoile mountain ranges, is the 1,011 meter or 3,317 foot Mont Sainte Victoire. To the west of Marseille is the former artist colony of l'Estaque and further west are the Côte Bleue, the Gulf of Lion and the Camargue region in the Rhône Delta. The airport lies to the north west of the city at Marignane on the Étang de Berre. The city's main thoroughfare, the wide boulevard called the Canebière, stretches eastward from the Old Port - Vieux Port to the Réformés quarter. Marseille acts as a regional nexus for entertainment in the south of France and has a high concentration of museums, cinemas, theaters, clubs, bars, restaurants, fashionable shops, hotels, and art galleries, all geared towards a tourist economy. The French financial magazine L'Expansion named Marseille the most dynamic of France's large cities, citing figures showing that 7,200 companies had been created in the city since 2000.

Holiday in Marseille, FranceTwo large forts flank the entrance to the Old Port—Fort Saint-Nicolas on the south side and Fort Saint-Jean on the north. Further out in the Bay of Marseille is the Frioul archipelago which comprises four islands, one of which, If, is the location of Château d'If, made famous by the Dumas novel The Count of Monte Cristo. The main commercial centre of the city intersects with the Canebière at Rue St Ferréol and the Centre Bourse - the main shopping mall. The center of Marseille has several pedestrianised zones, most notably Rue St Ferréol, Cours Julien near the Music Conservatory, the Cours Honoré-d'Estienne-d'Orves off the Old Port and the area around the Hôtel de Ville. To the south east of central Marseille in the 6th arrondissement are the Prefecture and the monumental fountain of Place Castellane, an important bus and metro interchange. To the south west are the hills of the 7th arrondissement, dominated by the basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde. The railway station - Gare de Marseille Saint-Charles is north of the Centre Bourse in the 1st arrondissement and it is linked by the Boulevard d'Athènes to the Canebière. Because of its pre-eminence as a Mediterranean port, Marseille has always been one of the main gateways into France. This has attracted many immigrants and made Marseille a cosmopolitan melting pot. By the end of the 18th century about half the population originated from elsewhere in Provence mostly but also from southern France. Marseille has a Mediterranean climate with mild, humid winters and warm to hot, mostly dry summers. December, January and February are the coldest months, averaging temperatures of around 12°C or 54°F during the day and 4°C or 39°F at night. July and August are the hottest months, averaging temperatures of around 30°C or 86°F during the day and 19°C or 66°F at night. Marseille is known for the Mistral, a harsh cold wind originating in the Rhône valley that occurs mostly in winter and spring. Less frequent is the Sirocco, a hot sand-bearing wind, coming from the Sahara Desert.

Holiday in Marseille, FranceMarseille was known in antiquity as Massilia or Massalia. Humans have inhabited Marseille and its environs for almost 30,000 years. Palaeolithic cave paintings in the underwater Cosquer Cave near the Calanque of Morgiou date back to between 27,000 and 19,000 BC and very recent excavations near the railway station have unearthed neolithic brick habitations from around 6000 BC. Marseille, which can be called the oldest city in France, was founded in 600 BC by Greeks from Phocaea as a trading port under the name of Massalia. The connection between Massilia and the Phoceans is mentioned in Book I - 13 of the History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides. The precise circumstances and date of founding remain obscure, but nevertheless a legend survives. Protis, while exploring for a new trading outpost or emporion for Phocaea, discovered the Mediterranean cove of the Lacydon, fed by a freshwater stream and protected by two rocky promontories. Protis was invited inland to a banquet held by the chief of the local Ligurian tribe for suitors seeking the hand of his daughter Gyptis in marriage. At the end of the banquet, Gyptis presented the ceremonial cup of wine to Protis, indicating her unequivocal choice. Following their marriage, they moved to the hill just to the north of the Lacydon; and from this settlement grew the city of Massalia. Massalia was one of the first Greek ports in Western Europe, growing to a population of over 1000. It was the first settlement given city status in France. Facing an opposing alliance of the Etruscans, Carthage and the Celts, the Greek colony allied itself with the expanding Roman Republic for protection.

Holiday in Marseille, FranceThis protectionist association brought aid in the event of future attacks, and perhaps equally important, it also brought the people of Massalia into the complex Roman market. The city thrived by acting as a link between inland Gaul, hungry for Roman goods and wine, which Massalia was steadily exporting by 500 BC, and Rome's insatiable need for new products and slaves. Under this arrangement the city maintained its independence until the rise of Julius Caesar, when it joined the losing side with Pompey and the optimates in civil war, and lost its independence in 49 BC. It was the site of a siege and naval battle, after which the fleet was confiscated by the Roman authorities. It was the home port of Pytheas. Most of the archaeological remnants of the original Greek settlement were replaced by later Roman additions. Marseille adapted well to its new status under Rome. During the Roman era, the city was controlled by a directory of 15 selected "firsts" among 600 senators. Three of them had the preeminence and the essence of the executive power. The city's laws amongst other things forbade the drinking of wine by women and allowed, by a vote of the senators, assistance to a person who wished to commit suicide. It was during this time that Christianity first appeared in Marseille, as evidenced by catacombs above the harbour and records of Roman martyrs. According to provencal tradition, Mary Magdalen evangelised Marseille with her brother Lazarus. The diocese of Marseille was set up in the 1st century and it finally became the Archdiocese of Marseille in 1948.

Holiday in Marseille, FranceIn 1575 with the decline of the Roman Empire the town fell into the hands of the Visigoths. Eventually Frankish kings succeeded in taking the town in the mid 6th century. Emperor Charlemagne and the Carolingian dynasty granted civic power to Marseille, which remained a major French trading port until the medieval period. The city regained much of its wealth and trading power when it was revived in the 10th century by the counts of Provence. In 1262, the city revolted under Bonifaci VI de Castellana and Hugues des Baux, cousin of Barral des Baux, against the rule of the Angevins but was put down by Charles I. In 1348, the city suffered terribly from the bubonic plague, which continued to strike intermittently until 1361. As a major port, it is believed Marseille was one of the first places in France to encounter the epidemic, and some 15,000 people died in a city that had a population of 25,000 during its period of economic prosperity in the previous century. The city's fortunes declined still further when it was sacked and pillaged by the Aragonese in 1423. The 17th century Fort Saint-Jean, incorporating the 12th century Commandry of the Knights Hospitaller of St John and the 15th century tower of René. Marseille's population and trading status soon recovered and in 1437, the Count of Provence René of Anjou, who succeeded his father Louis II of Anjou as King of Sicily and Duke of Anjou, arrived in Marseille and established it as France's most fortified settlement outside of Paris. He helped raise the status of the town to a city and allowed certain privileges to be granted to it. Marseille was then used by the Duke of Anjou as a strategic maritime base to reconquer his kingdom of Sicily. King René, who wished to equip the entrance of the port with a solid defense, decided to build on the ruins of the old Maubert tower and to establish a series of ramparts guarding the harbour. Jean Pardo, engineer, conceived the plans and Jehan Robert, mason of Tarascon, carried out the work. The construction of the new city defenses took place between 1447 and 1453. Trading in Marseille also flourished as the Guild began to establish a position of power within the merchants of the city. Notably, René also founded the Corporation of Fisherman.

Holiday in Marseille, FranceMarseille was united with Provence in 1481 and then incorporated in France the following year, but soon acquired a reputation for rebelling against the central government. Some 30 years after its incorporation, Francis I visited Marseille, drawn by his curiosity to see a rhinoceros that King Manuel I of Portugal was sending to Pope Leo X, but which had been shipwrecked on the Île d'If. As a result of this visit, the fortress of Château d'If was constructed; this did little to prevent Marseille being placed under siege by the army of the Holy Roman Empire a few years later. Marseille became a naval base for the Franco-Ottoman alliance in 1536, as a Franco-Turkish fleet was stationed in the harbour, threatening the Holy Roman Empire and especially Genoa. Towards the end of the 16th century Marseille suffered yet another outbreak of the plague; the hospital of the Hôtel-Dieu was founded soon afterwards. A century later more troubles were in store when King Louis XIV himself had to descend upon Marseille, at the head of his army, in order to quash a local uprising against the governor. As a consequence, the two forts of Saint-Jean and Saint-Nicholas were erected above the harbour and a large fleet and arsenal were established in the harbour itself. Marseille has been designated as European Capital of Culture in 2013. Marseille is a city that has its own unique culture and is proud of its differences from the rest of France. Today it is a regional centre for culture and entertainment with an important opera house, historical and maritime museums, five art galleries and numerous cinemas, clubs, bars and restaurants. Marseille has a large number of theatres, including la Criée, le Gymnase and the Théâtre Toursky. There is also an extensive arts centre in La Friche, a former match factory behind the St-Charles station. The Alcazar, until the 1960s a well known music-hall and variety theatre, has recently been completely renovated behind its original façade and now houses the central municipal library. Marseille has also been important in the arts. It has been the birthplace and home of many French writers and poets, including Victor Gélu, Valère Bernard, Pierre Bertas, Edmond Rostand and André Roussin. The small port of l'Estaque on the far end of the Bay of Marseille became a favourite haunt for artists, including Auguste Renoir and Paul Cézanne, who frequently visited from his home in Aix.

Holiday in Marseille, FranceOver the course of the 18th century, the port's defences were improved and Marseille became more important as France's leading military port in the Mediterranean. In 1720, the last Great Plague of Marseille, a form of the Black Death, killed 100,000 people in the city and the surrounding provinces. Jean-Baptiste Grosson, royal notary, wrote from 1770 to 1791 the historical Almanac of Marseille, published as Recueil des antiquités et des monuments marseillais qui peuvent intéresser l’histoire et les arts ("Collection of antiquities and Marseille monuments which can interest history and the arts"), which for a long time was the primary resource on the history of the monuments of the city. The local population enthusiastically embraced the French Revolution and sent 500 volunteers to Paris in 1792 to defend the revolutionary government. Their rallying call to revolution, sung on their march from Marseille to Paris, became known as La Marseillaise, now the national anthem of France. During the 19th century the city was the site of industrial innovations and a growth in manufacturing. The rise of the French Empire and the conquests of France from 1830 onward, notably Algeria, stimulated the maritime trade and raised the prosperity of the city. Maritime opportunities also increased with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. This period in Marseille's history is reflected in many of its monuments, such as the Napoleonic obelisk at Mazargues and the royal triumphal arch on the Place Jules Guesde.

Holiday in Marseille, FranceDuring the first half of the 20th century, Marseille celebrated its port of the empire status through the colonial exhibitions of 1906 and 1922. The monumental staircase of the railway station, glorifying French colonial conquests, dates from this period. In 1934 Alexander I of Yugoslavia arrived at the port to meet with the French foreign minister Louis Barthou. He was assassinated there by Vlado Chernozemski. During the Second World War, Marseille was bombed by the German and the Italian forces in 1940. The city was occupied by Germans from November 1942 to August 1944. On 22 January 1943, over 4,000 Jews were seized in Marseilles as part of Action Tiger. They were held in detention camps before being deported to Poland occupied by Nazi Germany to be murdered. The Old Port was bombed in 1944 by the Allies to prepare for the liberation of France. After the war much of the city was rebuilt during the 1950s, with the governments of East Germany, West Germany and Italy paying massive reparations, plus compound interest, to compensate civilians killed, injured or left homeless or destitute as a result of the war. From the 1950s onward, the city served as an entrance port for over a million immigrants to France. In 1962 there was a large influx from the newly independent Algeria, including around 150,000 returned Algerian settlers (pieds-noirs). Many immigrants have stayed and given the city a French-African quarter with a large market.

Holiday in Marseille, FranceHistorically, the economy of Marseille was dominated by its role as a port of the French Empire, linking the North African colonies of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia with Metropolitan France. The Old Port was replaced as the main port for trade by the Port de la Joliette during the Second Empire and now contains restaurants, offices, bars and hotels and functions mostly as a private marina. The majority of the port and docks, which experienced decline in the 1970s after the oil crisis, have been recently redeveloped with funds from the European Union. Fishing, however, remains important in Marseille and the food economy of Marseille is still dominated by the local catch, and a daily fish market is still held on the Quai des Belges of the Old Port. Today, the economy of Marseille is dominated by the New Port, which lies north of the Old Port, a commercial container port and a transport port for the Mediterranean sea. 100 million tons of freight pass annually through the port, 60% of which is petroleum, making it number one in France and the Mediterranean and number three in Europe. However, its recent growth in container traffic is being stifled by the constant strikes and social upheaval. Petroleum refining and shipbuilding are the principal industries, but chemicals, soap, glass, sugar, building materials, plastics, textiles, olive oil, and processed foods are also important products. Marseille is connected with the Rhône via a canal and thus has access to the extensive waterway network of France. Petroleum is shipped northward to the Paris basin by pipeline. The city also serves as France's leading centre of oil refining. Marseille is a major French center for trade and industry, with excellent transportation infrastructure - roads, sea port and airport. Marseille Provence Airport, is the fourth largest in France. It is the main arrival base for millions of tourists each year and serves a growing business community. All three universities of Aix-Marseille—the University of Provence, the University of the Mediterranean and Paul Cézanne University are represented to varying degrees in both Marseille and Aix-en-Provence, forming France's second largest research centre with 3,000 research scientists.

Holiday in Marseille, FranceMarseille's main cultural attraction was, since its creation at the end of the 18th century and until the late 1970s, the Opéra. Located near the Old Port and the Canebière, at the very heart of the city, its architectural style was comparable to the classical trend found in other opera houses built at the same time in Lyon and Bordeaux. In 1919, a fire almost completely destroyed the opera house, leaving only the stone colonnade and peristyle from the original façade. The classical façade was restored and the opera house reconstructed in a predominantly Art Deco style, as the result of a major competition. Currently the Opéra de Marseille stages 6 or 7 operas each year. Since 1972 the Ballet national de Marseille has performed at the opera house and there are several popular festivals in different neighborhoods, with concerts, animations, and outdoor bars, like the Fête du Panier in June. On 21 June, there are dozens of free concerts and music scenes in some parts of the city, for the Fête de la Musique. At the beginning of July there is the International Documentary Festival. At the end of September the electronic music festival Marsatac takes place. In October the Fiesta des Suds offers many concerts of world music. Marseille is also well known in France for its hip hop music. Bands like IAM originated from Marseille and initiated the rap phenomenon in France. Other known groups include Fonky Family, 3ème Oeil, and Psy4 de la rime.

Climate in Marseille - Marignane Airport
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 11.4
(52.5)
12.5
(54.5)
15.8
(60.4)
18.6
(65.5)
22.9
(73.2)
27.1
(80.8)
30.2
(86.4)
29.7
(85.5)
25.5
(77.9)
20.9
(69.6)
15.1
(59.2)
11.9
(53.4)
20.2
(68.4)
Average low °C (°F) 2.9
(37.2)
3.6
(38.5)
6.2
(43.2)
9.1
(48.4)
13.1
(55.6)
16.6
(61.9)
19.4
(66.9)
19.0
(66.2)
15.7
(60.3)
12.4
(54.3)
7.2
(45.0)
4.0
(39.2)
10.8
(51.4)
Precipitation mm (inches) 48.0
(1.89)
31.4
(1.236)
30.4
(1.197)
54.0
(2.126)
41.1
(1.618)
24.5
(0.965)
9.2
(0.362)
31.0
(1.22)
77.1
(3.035)
67.2
(2.646)
55.7
(2.193)
45.8
(1.803)
515.4
(20.291)
Avg. precipitation days 5 5 4 6 5 3 1 3 5 6 6 6 53
Mean monthly sunshine hours 145 174 239 244 293 333 369 327 259 187 152 135 2,858
Source: Météo France


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Wine Tasting Notebook

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The fastest and most direct way to learn about wine is to take good tasting notes. This is no big secret, but simply the way that beginners learn the fundamentals and professionals hone their skills. The wine tasting forms act as both time savers for professionals and training wheels for beginner and intermediate wine tasters. The accompanying guides serve as a great way to jog an experienced taster's memory as well as an excellent introduction for novices to hit the ground running and learn about wine.

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French Wine Map

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There is not a more detailed, technically accurate or better looking Wine Map of France. The maps are extensively researched and includes adjacent regions in Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain. The map includes detail maps of Bordeaux, Côte d'Or and Beaujolais. Each is 24 by 36 inches, expertly printed on heavyweight acid-free archival paper that is suitable for framing. Included with each is an eight page index booklet.

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Wine Varietal Chart

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Clearly see the big picture of wine grape varieties and how they relate to one another. A beautiful addition to any tasting room or wine cellar. The accompanying reference book, The Wine and Grape Indexes, is the most comprehensive index available of the grape varieties used in worldwide wine appelations. It helps to answer the proverbial question: what grape am I drinking? The Wine Grape Varietal Table is 24 by 36 inches printed in color on acid-free archival paper and is suitable for framing, making it a great gift for any and all wine lovers.

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An Encyclopedia of the Wines and Domaines of France
by Clive Coates

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In this handsome and engaging book, Clive Coates, one of the world's leading authorities on wine, gives us the most up-to-date, comprehensive, and detailed study of the wines of France ever written. Coates's vast knowledge of his subject together with his natural gift as a storyteller make An Encyclopedia of the Wines and Domaines of France as informative as it is entertaining. He discusses every appellation and explains its character, distinguishes the best growers, and uses a star system to identify the finest estates. With more than forty specially commissioned maps that show the main appellations and wine villages of France in detail and a format that invites browsing as well as in-depth study, this book will be essential reading for anyone, professional or amateur, interested in wine.

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