France’s oldest city, Marseille blends ancient charm with Provencal beauty.
Cruise to Provence and check out the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde: Built in the 19th century in a neo-Byzantine style, its golden statue of the Virgin and Child dominates the Marseille skyline. Or sheck ou the MuCEM art museum, or see the craggy limestone cliffs of Calanques National Park, a half-hour drive outside the city.
CLIMB TO THE HEAVENS
Climb the steps to 19th-century Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, rising 150 meters above the water. At its peak is a large golden statue of the Virgin Mary and Child, said to watch over Marseille’s maritime community. The basilica incorporates a renaissance-era fort that includes a serene chapel with ornate stained-glass windows.
Make your way on foot down Boulevard Longchamp, with its posh 19th-century houses, tree-lined promenade and stunning Palais Longchamp, where you’ll wander into a well-manicured park with a stately colonnade and fountain. It’s also home to two of the city’s finest museums, the Natural Museum and the Museum of Fine Art, both of which are well worth a stop.
Le Panier, just north of the port, dates back to 600 BC. While its colored walls, narrow streets and sunny squares once made up one of the poorest districts of the city, today it’s filled with trendy independent boutiques, craft shops and galleries. Cruise to Provence and look for handmade savon de Marseille, the traditional green or white soap made with olive oil that has been exported from Marseille for centuries.