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Vieux Port, Marseille, France

This is Marseille’s birthplace, where Greek settlers landed in 600 BC. The Greeks set up a trading post in the hills on the north shore. The port remained the center of Marseille’s maritime life until the 19th century, when the port proved too shallow for steamboats. 13th-century Bas Fort St-Nicolas and Fort St-Jean used to […]

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Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde Marseille, France

This 19th-century Romano-Byzantine basilica, informally known as La Bonne Mère, sits atop Marseille’s highest hill, La Garde, and is visible from almost anywhere in the city. The structure is striking, with colored marble, murals and mosaics, wraparound terraces and a tall Virgin Mary crowning the bell tower. Since Roman times, this site has served as […]

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Palais Longchamp, Marseille, France

This colonnaded palace was originally built to celebrate the construction of the Canal de Marseille, which brought water to the city and helped alleviate its summertime draught problem. After continued outbreaks of cholera in the 19th century, the city built the canal linking Marseille to the Durance River. In addition to providing a fresh water […]

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L’abbaye Saint-Victor, Marseille, France

The remains of L’abbaye Saint-Victor, once a prestigious religious center, overlooks the Vieux Port. The abbey was built in the early 5th century on the site where Saint Victor was massacred, and was dismembered in the 18th century. It was secularized, the gold and silver valuables were melted to make coins, the relics were burned […]

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Cathédrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure de Marseille, Marseille, France

This monstrosity is Marseille’s cathedral. If it looks a little modern, it’s because it was built during the late-19th century boom. This was built to signify France’s importance as a powerful trading partner with Asia. Built in eye-catching green and white stone stripes and a mix of Romanesque, Byzantine and Gothic styles, the cathedral oozes […]

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La Vieille Charité, Marseille, France

We spotted this unique dome and beautifully-colored stone from the street and wandered in to find a bit of calmness. The structure that wraps around the Baroque church was originally designed as an almshouse by Marseille architect Pierre Puget. In the 19th century, it was used as an asylum, then for soldiers and the homeless. […]

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Vallon des Auffes, Marseille, France

We walked along Corniche JFK to this fishing cove to check out a rooftop pizza place, but it was closed. There’s not much here – just a few restaurants that were all closed since it was Monday – but it’s an appealing, colorful little area. Tweet

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Marseille Sofitel, Marseille, France

This was one of the best hotels we’ve stayed in recently. The hotel has sweeping views of the Vieux Port and the city, and the walls of windows allow the seaside breeze in. The breakfast was our favorite hotel breakfast in Europe, full of Mediterranean fare like the world’s best ratatouille, marinated vegetables, fresh cheeses […]

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Marseille, France

To think we almost didn’t visit Marseille! We’d heard so many negative things about it, mostly along the lines of it being dirty and dangerous, that we nearly gave it a skip. Well, had we listened to others and bypassed this major French city, we would have missed out on the delicious seafood (notably, the […]

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