Encountering the Exotic: Culturally Significant Destinations Across the Globe
Marseille, France: Ancient Ports, Abundant Culture
The delectable phrase “the South of France” draws up images of sun-kissed shores, tranquil waters, picturesque hamlets and perhaps a pinch of hedonistic indulgence. And, sure, the port city of Marseille cops to some of those characteristics, including some gorgeous coasts. But don’t mistake it for a rural getaway.
This second-largest metropolis in L’Héxagone has been continually inhabited for 2,600 years.
Roughness sometimes comes with age, and Marseille is no exception. Tourists will want to stick to the safer parts of town. Still, it contains exotic sights of striking beauty that make it one of the best cultural vacation destinations. The subject of countless photographs, the mast-studded Vieux Port is both gorgeous and ancient.
Show up in the late afternoon to watch the fishermen hawking their catches by auction, a tradition that has endured for two millennia.
Less than a mile from the port, the much newer (circa 19th century) Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde provides stunning views of the water. Buff your literary knowledge by visiting Le Chateau d’If, which featured prominently in Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo.” Round out your trip with a little culture by seeing a show at the Opéra de Marseilles.