There are 111 different districts in
Marseille, but only a few are worth visiting. Each one is self-contained
and has its own distinct features.
Le Vieux Port:
The old port is one of the best-known parts of Marseille and its streets
are lined with restaurants and cafés. In the mornings, fishermen's wives
auction off their wares in the fish market opposite the boats. This is
where Louis XIV moored his large arsenal of galleys. You will also find
galleries such as Arcenaux here. Next to Cours Estienne d'Orves you will
find Place Thiars, the liveliest part of this district. Good quality
restaurants stand side by side with tourist traps. The Theatre National de
la Criée is very popular. A bit further on, Basilique St Victor is known
locally as the 'key to the port'.
This is the most famous road in town. Along it you will see shopping
streets such as Rue St Ferréol, and the Musée de la Mode, the Musée de
la Marine, and the Opéra. The Odeon is right at the end.
A walk through this popular district, close to the old port, takes you
around the Provençal pedestrian streets lined with multi-coloured
buildings. The Clocher des Accoules, la place des Moulins, la Vieille
Charité and la Major are all rich in history.
The Joliette docks are the long red brick buildings along the motorway
footbridge. The 4 blocks of buildings were built in the nineteenth century
and the interiors have been completely renovated. The Musée des Docks
Romains charts the history of the port of Marseille. Try to spend an
evening at the Docks des Suds.
In Marseille, Place Jean Jaures is also known as La Plaine. This huge
square has a market on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and a busy
shopping area at other times. In the adjacent streets, there is a wide
choice of restaurants, bars and pubs frequented by the locals such as
l'Intermédiaire or the Bar de la Plaine.
Le Cours Julien:
Just along from La Plaine, le Cours Julien is where young people like to
go as there is a good variety of cafés, cabarets and fringe theatres such
as Chocolat-Théâtre. For concerts Espace Julien is the place to go.
Wander around the antique shops and clothes boutiques, for example Madame
Zaza of Marseille.
Bars and cinemas such as César and the Prado keep this square at the end
of the Rue de Rome busy day and night. Set in the business district it
also marks the intersection of main roads such as Boulevard Baille and the
People come to the Prado to see the bourgeois buildings that line the main
road, the Boulevard Périer and the Rue Paradis. The Parc Borély and its
castle provide one of Marseille's biggest open spaces. The racecourse here
is also very popular.
The locals are partial to this district which is dominated by Notre Dame
de la Garde. The name La Bonne Mère (literally 'the Good Mother') comes
from the enormous statue of the Virgin Mary on top of the bell tower. This
church is also an important site for pilgrims.
The Corniche (coastal road) winds along the Mediterranean coast and all
the fanciest villas are located in this district, as is the Musée d'Art
Contemporain. There are plenty of good views but the beaches are mostly
hidden. The Palais de Pharo is a great place for walks and Vallon des
Auffes is a pleasant surprise. Wherever you are, you can admire the open
Palais Longchamp is a good place to go for walks and a take in a little
culture. You can also visit the Musée Grobet Labadié, the Musée des
Beaux Arts and the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle - the natural history
museum which used to be a zoo (since its closure, it has been converted
into a park).