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It’s obvious that the beauty of Marseille in France goes beyond what you see on the surface. Of course, the architecture and excellent scenery on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea make the city a wonderful destination, but the truly spectacular things can be found in the special atmosphere and culture that locals will know and love. To get an insider’s perspective, it’s helpful to have someone from Localgrapher who knows the city like a local and also can guarantee you professional quality photographs. Marseille is one of the best cities to visit in France that isn’t Paris, and whether you’ve been to Marseille before or you’re coming to this gem of a city in Southern France for the first time, here are some tips to do see the city through the eyes of a local.
The History of Marseille
While many people come to Marseille because of its growing reputation as a Mediterranean resort city, many of the city’s most spectacular features can be found in its history and ancient culture. In the Old Town area, otherwise known as Le Panier, you can appreciate the old, pastel-colored buildings and charm of the city winding streets. To go back to the origins of the city, you can visit the historic Vieux Port, the place it all began as a shipping port run by the Greeks in 600 BC. While the harbor is now full of modern sailing vessels and yachts, you can also appreciate the peaceful old-time feel of the area. You can delve further into the city’s Ancient Greek history by visiting the Jardin des Vestiges, or Garden of Ruins, which features remains of the city’s ancient Greek port, dating back to as early as 600 BC. The ruins were discovered during a construction project in the 1960s and have since been painstakingly excavated. It’s a peaceful location to sit and observe history.
You can also explore the area’s Roman history at the Le Musée des Docks Romains, which is an archaeological museum showcasing finds from nearby excavations. Other top historical spots include the Château d’If, which is a fortress located in the Mediterranean Sea, just 1.5 km from the shore of Marseille. While it’s not as grand as some of the best castles in France, it’s still well worth a visit. Equally worth your time is the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, which was built in 1853-1864. The Basilica, which is known for its colorful interior and detailed mosaics, sits overlooking the entire city and the harbor, meaning that it’s an excellent spot for tourists to take photographs. It’s a tough walk to the Basilique and most easily accessed by a bus, which leaves from the Vieux Port.
Explore Marseille’s Natural Scenery
There’s certainly plenty to do and keep you occupied within the city limits, but to truly get to know the region, it’s a good idea to explore some of the natural areas around the Marseille region of France. Calanques National Park is a great place to go, as it’s famous for its stunning turquoise waters and large, craggy white limestone cliffs and creeks, which you can admire from the hiking trails or a boat tour. If you’re an adventure enthusiast, there are other sports for you to try such as rock climbing and kayaking for something with a bit more excitement. The scenery is truly stunning.
Visit Les Aygalades Cascade
For a truly off-the-beaten-track experience, head to the Les Aygalades waterfall, which is a destinations locals visit on weekends to cool off. It’s one of the area’s best-hidden treasures, although it can only be visited on certain days.
The waterfall’s edge used to be the meeting point of the Marseillaise bourgeoisie back in the day. Today it’s a stunning natural waterfall and a great place to get some much-needed relaxation and rest.
Explore the Borély Park Japanese Garden
Another hidden treasure that locals try to save for themselves is the stunning Borley Park Japanese Garden. It’s an incredibly peaceful spot, home to pagodas, elegant ponds, and rare flowers. It’s an excellent destination if you want to have a picnic or relax in the shade of one of the garden’s trees during a hot summer’s day.
Find Bargains in Marseille’s Vintage Shops
Head to the Cours Julien or the 6th arrondissement, and you’ll be delighted to find tons of second-hand, retro and vintage boutiques. You can also find interior design items and beautiful antiques. Some of the best shops to visit include Lilou Vintage, La Coquette and La Boutique Vintage. Once you’re done shopping, it’s worth strolling the streets in the Julien Cours neighborhood, they are colorful and splashed in street art.
Did you know that people-watching is considered a hobby in France’s capital of Paris? Why not live as the Parisians do, and sit in one of Marseille’s many cafes that spill onto the streets. Order a strong coffee, and watch the locals go about their day to day business.
Remember Your Trip
One of the best ways to ensure that you can see the city of Marseille through the eyes of a local is to look for a photographer like the ones from Localgrapher who know the region well. Instead of just suggesting the big-name tourist destinations, they can help you find the lesser-known treasures of the city and plan a photoshoot to fit your individual personality and desires. Having professional photos of Marseille is the perfect way to preserve memories of your trip in a meaningful way.
Take a Stroll Along La Corniche
La Corniche lies several kilometers away from Marseille. It’s a long walkway that starts at the Old Port and runs adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea. Along the way, you’ll pass small neighborhoods and beaches, alongside some excellent fish restaurants and fishing harbors. If you want a lazy afternoon stroll, this is the perfect activity for you.