Feel our top 5 sensory experiences in Marseille…

See panoramic views of the Mediterranean from Notre Dame de la Garde, a Catholic basilica and the city’s best-known symbol.

Hear the sound of the water on a boat trip to the secluded Îles du Frioul or during a diving or sailing lesson.

Smell garlic, olives and sun-ripened tomatoes gleaming on open-air market stalls. Try the colourful Capucins market near La Canebière or the organic market at Cours Julien, held on a Wednesday.

Taste bouillabaisse, the famous fish stew which originated here and was originally the humble fishermen’s fare made from the leftover catch they couldn’t sell. It’s typically served with croutons and a spicy, garlicky sauce known as rouille.

Touch bowling balls in a game of pétanque. Local residents enjoy lazy games of this bowling-type pastime on hot afternoons; it originated in the Provençal village of La Ciotat in the early 1900s.

As the 2013 European City of Culture, Marseille (External link) has revitalised its image in recent years and proudly taken its place as France’s second city. This sunny Provençal hotspot is linked with the Count of Monte Cristo, bouillabaisse, pétanque, Zinedine Zidane and the Olympique de Marseille football team… but tourists come principally to visit its new museums, stay in chic hotels and shop in luxury boutiques. It boasts France’s largest Mediterranean cruise port, and being so easy to reach – now served by direct Eurostar from London as well as an international airport – it’s the ideal destination for a city break by the sea.

Getting to Marseille

By air: Marseille or Nice International Airports
By train: 6h30m from London by Eurostar; 3h from Paris by TGV
By road: A55, A7, A52