Longchamp Palace
Photo by: Diego Cupolo, Creative Commons

Marseille is France’s oldest city and is also the second most populous, next only to its capital, Paris. The city is situated in the southeast coast, along the Mediterranean Sea. Its strategic location has made it the France’s biggest commercial port.

Marseille’s rich history and culture have been preserved in the city’s’ many monuments and museums. Worth visiting are the Monument aux Morts de l’Armée d’Orient, a 1922 statue in memory of World War II, and the Monument aux Repatriés d’Afrique du Nord, a bronze sculpture made in 1971 in honor of those who came back from North Africa.

Museum lovers will have a blast in Marseille. 17th-century private mansion houses the Musée Cantini, which contains a large collection of ceramics dating back to 17th- and 18th-centuries. There are also paintings that depict famous landscapes of the surrounding region. The Musée d’Art Contemporain, on the other hand, is home to the works of famous French contemporary artists like Cesar Baldaccini and Christo, new realists Ben and Klein, as well as pop icon Andy Warhol. Marseille’s fascinating culture and its many influences come alive at the Musée d’Histoire de Marseille. The museum features exciting exhibits like the ruins of a third-century merchant vessel that was stumbled upon in 1973 at the Vieux Port.

There are at least four other museums that are worth checking out: the Musée de la Marine et de l’Économie, which is dedicated to the city’s ocean economy; the Musée de la Mode, where avant-garde fashion is on exhibit; Musée des Docks Romains with its Roman structures and the Musée du Santon, which features little saints made of molded plaster. All these are enough to give tourists museum-fatigue and make them eager to check out Marseille’s other places of interest.

For a change of scenery, you can visit the Vallon des Auffes, where you can drink in the sights and the local color. This traditional fishing village boasts of the classic cabanons that fishermen used to build for tackle storage and weekend cookouts.

Finally, if you want a taste of Marseille’s history, try the Abbaye St-Victor, a 12th-century structure nestled on a hilltop near Vieux Port. It houses martyr tombs dating back to the fourth century and a sarcophagus that dates back to the 3rd century.

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