Marseille is the oldest city in France. It dates back 2600 years when it was founded by the Phocaeans, or Greeks, from what is now Turkey. Named Massalia the town became very prosperous setting up trading posts in surrounding settlements.
It remained independent of the Romans when they occupied Provence but the inhabitants made the mistake of backing the wrong side during the civil war between Pompey and Caesar. For many years Arles, which had backed Caesar, became the dominant town but by the Middle Ages Marseille had recovered due largely to the trading opportunities offered by the Crusades.
Second City of FranceDespite losing many lives during the the Great Plague of the 1720s, Marseille gradually grew in importance. As well as being the great port we see today it is also the second city of France. Recently there has been a transformation of the infrastructure thanks to the Euroméditerranée Development Programme. In 2013 Marseille was the European City of Culture.
As you might expect there is a great deal to see in this historic city and most of it is based around the Vieux Port, the adjacent Rive Neuve and the famous Canebière.
Don’t Miss: the view of the Vieux Port from the Parc du Pharo, (best during the late afternoon and evening). Above all treat yourself to the delicious local fish stew Bouillabaisse.