Marseille Attractions Guide

Tourists to Marseille should not miss the following attractions: The Opéra de Marseille is the city’s main cultural attraction, and stages six or seven operas a year. Reconstructed in a predominantly Art Deco style after the building was almost completely gutted by fire in 1919, the Opéra is the home of the Ballet National de Marseille. There are also a number of notable museums in the city, including the Musée Cantini, which houses one of the most extensive French public collections of 20th century art, including the works of artists such as Miro and Matisse; the Musée de la Mode, which features over 6,000 costumes and accessories; and the Natural History Museum and Fine Arts Museum, both of which are located at the Palais Longchamp. The Vielle Charité is a complex of buildings dating back to the 17th century, which currently houses two museums, several art galleries, a restaurant, a café, a bookshop and an arthouse cinema, Le Miroir. The complex also has a chapel built in the French Baroque style by architect Pierre Puget. Vieux Port or Old Port is the heart of the city. Tourists can stroll around the Place Thiars, a square with dozens of bars and restaurants, or go to the quai des Belges, where the famed fish market takes place in the morning. They can also cross the harbor in a ferry which leaves several times a day, to visit the 17th century town hall. The Old Port is also home to La Criée, the city’s most famous theater, located at the quai de Rive Neuve. The Musée d’Histoire is the city’s historical museum, which is home to the best preserved sample of a hull of a 6th century boat in the world. The museum also features records of the Greek and Roman history of the city, as well as ancient remains from the city’s past as a Hellenic port in the adjacent Jardin des Vestiges archaeological gardens. The 19th century Notre Dame de la Garde basilica is affectionately called the Good Mother (Bonne Mère) after the 32ft gilded statue of the Virgin Mary that tops its dome. Its terrace also offers a breathtaking view of the city and the bay, with the Frioul archipelago visible in the distance. The Abbaye de Saint Victor is one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in Europe. Of particular interest is the abbey’s crypt, in which the faithful gather for Candlemas every year. The abbey is also a regular venue for concerts of religious music.