Built on the shores of the Mediterranean around 600 BC, Marseille is the oldest city in France and one of the most important ports in Europe. Known in antiquity as Massalia, it was built by Greek merchants from Phocaea, located in present-day Turkey. Taking advantage of its privileged geographical location, they made the city a major commercial axis of the ancient world. Today this heritage, although subtle, is everywhere...
"Being born in Marseille is never a coincidence. Marseilles is, and has always been, the port of exiles, Mediterranean exiles, exiles from our former colonial routes as well. Here, whoever disembarks one day in the port, is inevitably at home. Wherever you come from, you are at home in Marseille. "
In his poem entitled "Marseille" the writer and poet Jean-Claude Izzo proclaims his attachment to his native city. Son of Spanish and Italian immigrants, he perfectly embodies the cosmopolitan spirit that is characteristic of the port city.
A crossroads city
A stopover city, a city of transit or a city of immigration, Marseille is a place that one makes one's own, for a few days or for a lifetime. At the crossroads of trade and immigration, it has been subjected to various waves of migration over the centuries: Greeks, Italians, Armenians, Corsicans, North Africans, Spaniards, many peoples have come to settle or stop here, fleeing persecution or attracted by the economic opportunities offered by the city.
Named the gateway to the Orient by Victor Hugo, Marseille vibrates with this multi-culturalism and its unique atmosphere. Marseilles is the whole universe," said André Chenier. And its center is undoubtedly its emblematic Old Port, through which goods, men and goods of all kinds passed during the first exchanges. Nearby you can see the most important monuments of the city, such as Fort Saint-Jean or the Cathedral of the Major, a building of exceptional dimensions and unique appearance, halfway between Roman and Oriental cultures. The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations, known as Mucem, located next door, will allow the most curious to discover the Mediterranean culture and heritage.
The city of 111 neighborhoods
Marseille is the second most populous city in France, and also one of the largest. Its 111 official districts are for the most part made up of former hamlets that were later attached to the commune. This was the case for the town of l'Estaque located to the northwest of the city and immortalized by Paul Cézanne in his famous painting, La Mer à l'Estaque. This particularity gives each district its own identity and, paradoxically, an overall unity.
In the heart of the city, the Panier and its medieval streets constitute the historic district. The same goes for the Canebière district, famous for its bars, cafés and gastronomic market.
For a run by the sea, head for La Corniche and its 19th century villas which will lead the most motivated runners to Les Goudes and its small fishermen's huts.
One cannot talk about Marseille without mentioning its architectural heritage, from the multitude of religious buildings of various faiths spread throughout the city to the monuments built during the Empire. Symbol of the city, the Basilica Notre Dame de la Garde perched on its hill, combines both.
Les Calanques of Marseille
Marseille is surrounded by mountains and has many gardens such as the Buzine park, made famous by Marcel Pagnol and his novel "Le château de ma mère". But it remains above all known for its Calanques, a succession of coves and creeks stretching over twenty kilometers south of the city. They represent one of the most popular natural sites in France, and since 2012, they have been the first peri-urban national park.
Land of Le Corbusier who built his Cité Radieuse, Marseille enchants architecture, history and gastronomy lovers as well as soccer fans, who can attend Olympique de Marseille matches at the Velodrome Stadium.
Run with Runnin'City from the Old Port to the Calanques of Marseille!