Marseille Shore Excursions
Old Port (Vieux Port)
The origins of the city lie in the Old Port, which has been an important port and sometimes shipbuilding center for over five hundred years. The area was completely flattened in WWII, but it was rebuilt and has more than regained its attraction. The port is lined by old quays, built in the 17th century, from which radiate narrow streets, filled with shops, restaurants and bars. Perhaps the place with the widest choice of eateries is the area around Place Thiers, just off Quai de Rive Neuve. Be sure to sample the famed Bouillabaisse, a fish stew, said to have originated in Marseille.
Garden of Ruins (Jardin des Vestiges)
The interesting Garden of Ruins contains the ruins of Greek docks from the 1st century. The ruins were discovered during excavations for the foundations of a shopping center in the 1960s. The park is a hundred yards inland from the Old Port, just behind the Centre Bourse.
Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica
The Romanesque-Byzantine Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica sits atop the highest hill in Marseille, and can be seen from just about anywhere in the city. The people of Marseille hold the church dear to their hearts, believing it their guardian angel and protector. The current basilica was constructed in the mid 19th century, and a unique funicular (now demolished) connected the church to the district below. Inside spot the many models and paintings of boats protected from sinking by Notre Dame - fishermen still have their boats blessed here. Outside the church several points offer stunning views out towards the sea over the archipelago that includes the famous islands Chateau d'If and Iles de Frioul. The Basilica lies about half-a-mile to the south of Vieux Port, a short bus ride, or an energetic walk away.
Completely renovated in 2001, the Musee Cantini houses a fabulous collection of art covering the period 1900-1960. Take a tour through Fauvism, Cubism, and Surrealism as you enjoy the paintings of big name artists like Matisse, Dufy, Picasso, De Stael and Bacon. The museum is a 2 minute walk inland from the Old Port.
Plage des Catalans
The Plage des Catalans is the nearest beach to the Old-Port. Popular with both tourists and locals, the beach can be very busy, but it makes a great place for a refreshing dip. Showers, restrooms and a snack bar are available. The beach is about half-a-mile west of the Old-Port, just past the Palais du Pharo, taking about 10 minutes by foot.
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