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Marseille, mediterranean capital

Regions and cities Provence-Alps-the French Riviera Marseille

Here, the sun, the Mediterranean Sea, incredible landscapes and famous monuments compete to seduce visitors. Located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, Marseille, the second city with the biggest population in France, has an amazing amount to offer. This year, the entire city of Marseille is coming together for the launch of “Marseille-Provence 2013”, named European Capital of Culture. For this occasion, Marseille is reaching out beyond the city limits to offer a large number of cultural events. This exceptional year will see the opening in spring of the new Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations), also known as the ‘MuCEM’.

Things to know

Ancestral history

Dating back 2,600 years, Marseille is the oldest city in France. It was founded in the year 600 BC by Greeks travelling from Phokaia (Turkey). It has remained true to its maritime and commercial origins, and is the number 1 port in France.

Sites and Monuments

The Old Port

The old port of Marseille is the heart of the city. It is the point where all the main avenues of the city converge, including the famous Canebière avenue. Restaurants offer pastis, an aniseed-flavoured spirit that is typical of Marseille, pieds paquets and bouillabaisse.


The calanques

Between swimming sessions on little gravel and pebble or vast sandy beaches, you can go off and explore the calanques. These little creeks are sometimes hard to get to but are always amazing, and symbolic of Marseille lifestyle.

Events and festivals


Opera, theatre, music – there is an amazing range of cultural events on offer. In addition to these major venues, there are lots of little performance spaces and cafés offering a musical programme in a festive atmosphere. Some venues specialise in balletti , where the Occitan language is spoken.

Marseille, the 2013 European Capital of Culture

Marseille has been named the 2013 European Capital of Culture. With its contemporary art projects and multiple major events and exhibitions, “Marseille-Provence 2013” will in fact encompass the whole of the Provence region: Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, the banks of the Rhone, etc. On the seafront looking out at the entrance of Marseille’s Old Port, the new Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, or the ‘MuCEM’) will open its doors in spring 2013, covering a total area of 40,000 m2. Marseille-Provence will also serve as a great opportunity to discover the new "Territoires de l’Art" (art spaces) in Marseille: the J1 hangar in the Grand Port (main port), which covers over 2,600 m2, and the Tour-Panorama (Panorama Tower) of the Friche la Belle de Mai.


Autonomous Port

Situated in the heart of the Mediterranean basin, Marseille is a cosmopolitan city open to the world. With several millions of tonnes of cargo traffic passing through, its autonomous port is number one in the Mediterranean and number four in Europe. Marseille is also the go-to place for conference, seminar and trade fair organisations.