Although this port city in the south of France has a bad reputation, due to Hollywood films and to it being home to many immigrants, don’t be fooled. It is precisely these residents that Marseille owes a debt of gratitude for creating the unique cultural diversity atmosphere which makes is so special. Marseille, the second biggest and the oldest French city is not as beautiful as Paris, it is not as posh as Nice, and not at all as homogeneous as Bordeaux. However, it’s a city that offers its uniqueness. I have visited Marseille several times, and each time I discovered new hidden gems. Clearly, one day is not enough to get to know it. However, in case you only have 24 hours to spend in Marseille, I've put up a small itinerary with some not-to-miss spots.
Like in every big French city, here too you will find a magnificent Notre-Dame and other stunning buildings, inside and outside (Musee des Beaux-Arts, Palais Longchamp, Cathedrale de la Major...). Even if you are not into churches, Notre-Dame de la Garde is well worth a climb (or take bus 60!). If not for its lower church in the Romanesque style, carved from the rock, and an upper church of Neo-Byzantine-style decorated with mosaics, then surely for the view from the hill where it is situated!
However, in order to experience the real Marseille, you must visit its Marché de Noailles Market. Touring these stalls resembles a gourmet round-the-world trip: from pizza, via famous bouillabaisse fish soup, to Arabic sweets, dry and fresh fruit and spices. Try... everything!
To go deeper into Marseille you must take subway line 2 to Cours Julien, the district of the artist and creators. The ocher buildings in Cours Julien are an open canvas for what is much more than just street art. It's a way of communication, a way of showing fears or griefs, hopes or beliefs. The art pieces come and go, change as the life itself changes. They reveal many feelings, criticise or support. They give the voice to those often unheard. For more street art in Marseille you can also take time to get lost around the Vieux Panier and discover some outstanding murals.
Although not hidden at all, you still cannot miss the Old Port (Port Vieux), where life happens since in 600AC Greek settlers set up here a trading post. With crunchy baguette, tasty cheese and cherry tomatoes from a nearby supermarket an open air picnic in the Port is a great alternative to numerous restaurants trying to rip off tourists. To finish your day in style, visit once a tobacco factory, La Friche. It now hosts a rooftop bar, startups' offices, a restaurant, skate park and a bookshop/coffee shop. It's a perfect place for a sunset drink while going through the impressions of your exciting 24 hours in Marseille.
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