« Oh, la France. Ça fait du bien quand on y pense. » It sure does. France might be one of the most holiday-worthy countries in Europe, competing with other tourist hotspots like Italy and Greece. Yet there’s a certain je ne sais quoi about the French which you can’t deny. Maybe it’s their way of talking, maybe it’s their way of flirting, maybe it’s their way of eating or maybe it’s a combination of all of that. Whatever the reason, France has a way of seducing you and often, it just works.
Of course, most of us especially love the South of France. The life there’s even sweeter than in the rest of the country and when you’re lying on a beach at the Côte d’Azur, it’s quite difficult to imagine everyday life isn’t always sunny and good. Strolling over the boulevards in Nice, Cannes or Saint-Tropez is something a lot of us are already quite familiar with, yet what about the rest of the coastline? What about Marseille, for instance?
Well, sure, Marseille isn’t as easy-goingly sweet as some other parts of the French coastline. It’s a big city with big city problems and big city advantages. It’s not particularly a place where you’d go to bake in the sun, even though the surroundings are absolutely stunning – yes, we’re talking about the Calanques. Yet that doesn’t mean Marseille hasn’t got beauty or sweetness on offer. That doesn’t mean the city’s not worth your time. Quite the contrary, Marseille can be a great way to stir things up during a longer holiday in the South of France. Or it can be a city trip to remember. Whatever you choose to do, these five spots will prove the city’s worth discovering. And it definitely will spruce up your Instagram game.
1. La Cité Radieuse
One of Marseille’s great architectural highlights is La Cité Radieuse by the famous architect and city planner Le Corbusier. The big housing block unit isn’t what you’d expect – the building ingeniously plays with light, structure, material and color. In total La Cité Radieuse, built between 1947 and 1952, houses 337 separate apartments, laid out in 23 different floorplans. Yet what makes this architectural gem so special, is the fact that it also houses an indoor high street, featuring – amongst others – a bookstore and a hotel. And with the 2.8 hectares of park around the building, its residents certainly don’t lack any outdoor space.
2. Palais Longchamp
If modern architecture isn’t really your cup of tea, maybe Palais Longchamp will be more up your street. The Palais is actually a beautifully disguised water tower, designed to bring fresh water from the Durance river to the city after a cholera outbreak in 1835. Nowadays, however, the building houses two museums: the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle. After your visit, don’t forget to take a break at the hidden garden, which once was home to Marseille’s zoo.
3. Tuba Club
When you’re on a city trip, you have to stay somewhere – right? So why not turn that ‘obligation’ into an experience on its own? Because that’s exactly what staying over at the Tuba Club hotel means. The joint is exquisitely located on the seafront – including a private ‘beach’ carved out into the rocks – and every single detail has been carefully thought of. There are only five rooms available so you’ll have to be quick about it if you want to book your picture perfect stay. Too late? Don’t worry, you can also have a drink at the bar or grab a bite to eat at the restaurant.
4. Le Dantès Skylounge
The Vieux Port in Marseille is a true tourist highlight. With the colorful houses all around and the very photogenic boats in the marina, you can’t deny there’s something to be said about this place. The only downside? Well, it’s not exactly what you’d call a secret spot in any sense. There are tourists everywhere. Yet, there’s a way to enjoy that view from a much calmer place: Le Dantès Skylounge, the rooftop bar belonging to the Sofitel hotel right beside the Vieux Port. Grab a cocktail, make a picture and then just sit back and relax.
5. Jogging & Samena
Want to buy something special to remind yourself of your trip to Marseille? Don’t give in to the usual tourist traps but do yourself a favor and go over to Jogging instead. This concept store is one big Instagrammable shopping heaven – Simon Porte Jacquemus himself has said it, so we don’t argue. If you’re looking for more within the Jogging-theme, you could book a stay for you and your someone special at Samena, “a retreat for two people a few meters from the sea” as they like to put it. Not too shabby for us!