At the end of April, we traveled via TGV south from Paris to the Mediterranean town, Marseille. The second largest and oldest city in France, Marseille has experienced a dramatic rebirth from a rather banal port city to a vibrant, cultural mecca in line with any of Europe’s major cosmopolitan cities.
I was curious to see Marseille again as it had been a very long time. Twenty years ago I wanted to faire un stage thus spent the summer as an intern at a French business after graduating from university. I honestly do not have many fond memories of my time there. I loved the region of Provence surrounding Marseille yet found the city to be dirty, uninspiring and relatively bland. After hearing so much fanfare about Marseille and what a magnificent city it has become, I decided to give it another whirl and I was not the slightest bit disappointed in what I found.
In Marseille, I found a pell mell of culture and electricity that other cities would die to have just a sliver of. In a nutshell, Marseille had come to life with a pizzazz and heartbeat that pulsates the city like a radiant shower of gold.
As soon as we arrived at our hotel along the famous Vieux Port, I was shocked at how much this city had changed. Its vibrancy and beauty were a delightful surprise as was the cultural mix of inhabitants coming from Africa, the Middle East and other parts of the world. Named as the European Capital of Culture for 2013, Marseille is bound to become one of the hottest, most sought after travel locations of the year and it is a reward that is definitely deserved.
Marseille: European Capital of Culture 2013
Our hotel, the Residence du Vieux Port was the perfect place to base ourselves for our stay in Marseille. Strategically located along the Vieux Port, we were walking distance to restaurants, nightlife and shopping along La Canebière, the historic street in the old quarter of Marseille leading to the Vieux Port. But the best part of all about our hotel was the view off the balcony.
Some of the best moments and memories of our trip happened on the balcony off our hotel room drinking icy cold Cotes de Provence as the sun set behind the Notre Dame de la Garde casting hues of pinks, golds and oranges across the port. It was a room with a splendid view. One you’d see on a cover of Conde Nast. It was grand.
As the sun tucked away behind the Notre Dame de la Garde and all became engulfed in darkness, the boats became awash in blue lights and it was utterly gorgeous.
If you go…
Marseille is an easy hop, skip and a jump from Paris. You can either take a short flight or for a more scenic view, the TGV will get you there in less than four hours. Marseille is the perfect launching off pad for jaunts into lovely Provence, Cassis and all the grand cities alongside the Côte d’Azur.
To see my TripAdvisor review of the Residence du Vieux Port, click here.
Stay tuned….For visits into Cassis and the perched villages of Luberon in Provence.