discover the provence


Marseille was founded around 600 BC by Greek sailors from Phocée, in Asia Minor,  which is why even today it continues to be called the “Phocean City”.

It is located in the southeast of France, in Provence.

Marseille is the “chef lieu” of the Département of the Bouches du Rhône and the capital city of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.

Marseille is bordered by the Mediterranean on the west, surrounded by the Estaque mountain range and the Etoile mountain range to the north, the Garlaban in the east, the Saint-Cyr mountain range and Mount Puget to the southeast and the Marseilleveyre mountain range to the south.

It is the fifth largest Metropolitan France “commune” based upon its geographical area.
It covers 241 km2, including 100m2 of natural space.

It is also the 2nd largest city of France in number of inhabitants. It has 850,636 inhabitants. Due to its ancientness, its unique culture, its strong identity and its ethnic melting-pot, Marseille is one of the most cosmopolitan cities of France today.

Marseille is very easily accessible by express way, at 775 km from Paris, 316 km from Lyon, 204 km from Nice, 405 km from Toulouse, 400 km from Genoa, 373 km from Turin and 501 km from Barcelona.
Marseille profits from an abundance of sun ( fewer than 40 days of rain per year). An azur blue sky is practically guaranteed all year.

This large city is also unique due to its culture, its historical heritage and its exceptional natural areas, especially its turquoise Calanques.

Marcel Pagnol was already talking about a trilogy of mythical aspects in Marseille :

The wafting odors of bouillabaisse, aïoli and pastis are found at each street corner not to mention.

the famous “pétanque” get-togethers which provide rhythm to the days of all good Marseillais!

And that accent which sings.., a guaranteed change of scenery  for one who is not from the region….


Past can be spotted throughout the city:


Which is and remains the heart of Marseille. Marseille’s city hall is located in the middle of the port’s harbor  northern quay. City hall is a 17th century building which stands out by virtue of the fact that it has no staircase to go to the second floor. For that, one must go through the building in the back.


Its golden statue of the “Bonne Mère” dominates the harbor from a height of 160 meters. From its summit, one can discover one of the most beautiful views of the city.


Emblematic avenue in the center of town has its terminus at the “Vieux Port”. It crosses the most commercial sectors of the city. It has acquired an international reputation.


Neighborhood with its picturesque streets and colorful facades.

It is a historical refuge for generations of sailors and immigrants. It should be traversed on foot, in quest of scents and sensations.


Where the Chateau d'If is located, not to mention the Corniche beaches, the Cité Radieuse of Le Crobusier, the Longchamp Palace or Borely Park.


Marseille is a territory with varied and surprising landscapes, classified since April 18, 2012 as a national park.

It is the tenth largest French National Park.

On earth and in the sea, the perimeter of the heart of the park extends to three Communes: Marseille, Cassis, La Ciotat.

It offers a landscape unique in the world and has a remarkable biodiversity, especially with concern to the Calanques.

The dream landscape of the Marseille Calanques is composed of majestic cliffs and of sea as far as the eye can see, with an exceptional fauna and flora.

The Calanques, their emerald fingers plunged in the rock, are of sedimentary origin.

12,000 years ago, the limestone was formed at the bottom of the hot sea during the Mesozoic by the chemical transformation of the accumulation of fragments of skeletons and shells of marine micro-organisms.

This site, unique in the world, allows nature lovers to enjoy several activities:

  • Underwater, thanks to several diving clubs in Marseille.
  • On  the surface of the water by boating excursions.
  • On land by hiking trails.

the symbols of Marseille

The Olympique de Marseille

The emblematic soccer club  and its famous Vélodrome stadium

which has since become the second largest French stadium after the Stade de France.

The pastis, the aperitif of the sun, synonymous with good time.

The word pastis comes from the Provençal Occitan word “pastisson” (mixture, amalgam) A word that evokes a good Provencal smell.

It has become the symbol of the friendliness and the sweetness of living in Marseille.

It is an alcoholic drink perfumed with aniseed and licorice. More than a moment of relaxation, the pastis hour is sacred , perhaps eternal.


Marseille Soap

More than a simple soap, a true symbol of Provençal heritage to be defended!

The true Marseille soap is made with vegetable oils, without coloring, perfume, preservative, animal grease, petrochemical product and it works equally well in caring for skin and linens.

In the Marseille-Provence area, there are 6 soap factories, supplying more than 30% of the production.

Marseille Navettes

These are Provençal pastries, generally prepared for the Chandeleur, instead of crepes, especially in Marseille.

Their shape evokes that of a boat.

Traditionally flavored with orange blossom, the navettes are now flavored with all sorts of spices.

The pointu

Small sailboat which is part of the traditional family of fishing boats of the Mediterranean sea. Its length varies between 4 and 9 meters.

It belongs to the family of boats with a lateen sail, vast Mediterranean family extending from North Africa to Malta, Greece, Italy, (the Napolitan Gozzo), the Cote d’Azur, the Languedoc, Catalonia… The lateen sail, triangular in shape, has very ancient origins, was utilized by the caravels of Christopher Columbus.


A typically Marseille dish in the form of a fish-based soup, can be enjoyed as a first course or as an entree.

Its origins trace back to the founding of the city of Marseille by Greek sailors from Phocée (600 B.C.) J.-C.). With its pieces of fish, it usually includes rouille and garlic rubbed croutons.

Star dish of many city restaurants, it will cost you between 20 and 70 euros depending on the composition and the location.

The marseille accent

The inhabitants of the Midi, « smooth talkers » who link hand gestures to words, speak a language in perpetual motion.

To verify this, you have only to visit the picturesque areas of Marseille.

The « Panier »,  a popular old neighborhood, for example, or the Vieux Port, fiefdom of the fish mongers. Many expressions are borrowed from images of the sea: crammed together like anchovies, skinny like a stoquefiche (salted cod). All of this, of course, with the “accent”!

see notable people

Marcel Pagnol

Born in Aubagne, twenty kilometers from the Phocean City, on February 28, 1895,

He would study in Marseille, would live there and would make the city, its area, its customs, the Petanque and the ferry boat (which shuttles constantly between the harbor quay – City Hall and the Rive Neuver Place aux Huiles quay ) known  throughout the whole world through his body of work. He joined the Académie Française in 1946. 

He rests henceforth not very far from us in the cemetery of la Treille following his death in 1974.


His real name was Contandin, Fernand, born in 1903. 

A great performer who is beyond mere compliments. For people of his generation, while he was dating a young woman, people said “he is Fernand d’elle” and he became our Fernandel for ever.

He began as an amateur singer and a “comique troupier” at the Odeon cinema, then at Bobino in 1928. The beginning of a long series of more than 150 movies began in 1930 in “the white and the black” of Marc Allégret.

Paul Ricard

French businessman born in the Sainte Marthe neighborhood (14th arrondissement of Marseille).

He created the « Ricard » brand of pastis, one of the most famous in the world which now belongs to the « Pernod-Ricard” group".

He was one of the first French CEOs to do “sponsorship” of sport and musical events.

Yves Montand

From Italy originally, the Livi family moved to Marseille in 1923.

He lived in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Marseille, in extreme poverty.

He had a difficult childhood because of his immigrant status. At age seventeen, after having worked in a factory and done several small jobs, he made his debut at the Alcazar (the great Marseille night club) to “warm up the audience”. He was recognized for his performance as an actor and impersonator.

This is when his great movie career began.

He met Edith Piaf, Simone Signoret, Marilyn Monroe and other personalities.

His best movies are Le milliardaire (1960), La folie des grandeurs (1971), Le sauvage (1975), and the adaptation of the novels by Marcel Pagnol : Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources in 1986.