As the second largest city in France (and one of the oldest) the port-city of Marseille is a cultural hub situated on the French Riviera. Founded by the Greeks in around 600 B.C and a pivotal location in the Nazi occupation in France during WW2, it has no shortage of historical significance. Nowadays, Marseille is prominently renowned as the epicentre of French street art. The colourful districts Cours Julien and Le Panier have become hot spots for gentrification, attracting more and more foreign tourists each year.
I’ve always loved French culture and their general approach to life, not forgetting the unreal food and dirt cheap wine. However, as most are aware, the South of France is not exactly known for its filthy bargains. Nevertheless, there are always ways to save some money along the way without compromising any of your experience there.
Free walking tours are by far the most authentic way to see the best a European city has to offer and Marseille’s free walking tour that runs most mornings certainly won’t disappoint. Over the course of 2-3 hours the local tour guides will take you off the beaten track to the lesser known spots which is the perfect way to get to the city in a short period of time. (Including the beautiful port and scenic harbour)
Following this, an unmissable spot to see is the Basilica on the hill, offering incredible views of the city, completely free of charge. However, I do recommend taking the short bus ride to the top to save the sweaty walk up.
For lunch spots I’d recommend avoiding restaurants situated by Marseille’s iconic port, as the food is over-priced and honestly very average. Instead eat like a local and visit the ‘artier’ districts of Le Panier and Cours Julien to experience an outdoor dining experience.
If in the area, I’d definitely advise visiting ‘le jardin d’a cote’for some high quality food with a very reasonable price tag. When visiting any local eatery in Marseille it’s always advisable to go for the ‘plat du jour’ (dish of the day), as this is often cheaper and made with the freshest ingredients.
Whilst in Le Panier and Cours Julien definitely spend some time just wandering around, the winding streets are home to some of the best street art in Europe, in addition to specialist shops for handmade clothes and soaps.
There is no better way to end your day in Marseille than to watch the sunset over the sea whilst sat upon the walls of Fort Saint.
Many locals will do this every night and take a bottle of wine, a baguette and some cheese with them. It’s a popular thing to do so you’ll see a few people doing the same thing but it’s definitely worth it.
Words by Mel Lynch