Marseille Introduction Walk II (Self Guided), Marseille

Located on the Mediterranean coast of France, Marseille is the largest commercial port and the second most populous city in France. Being also the country's oldest, the city is known for its ancient heritage, distinctive culture, ethnic diversity and strong identity, all of which secures for Marseille the status of a major tourist destination. Follow this orientation walk to explore some of the top attractions of Marseille.
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Marseille Introduction Walk II Map

Guide Name: Marseille Introduction Walk II
Guide Location: France » Marseille (See other walking tours in Marseille)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Author: leticia
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • La Canebiere
  • Vieux-Port (Old Port)
  • Abbaye Saint-Victor
  • Cours Honore-d'Estienne-d'Orves
  • Opéra Municipal
  • Rue Paradis
  • Rue St. Ferréol
  • Rue de Rome
  • Cours Julien
La Canebiere

1) La Canebiere

Close to the Vieux Port and Le Panier, La Canèbiere is another of Marseille’s most important areas. It is the city’s biggest avenue, and it represents the wealth that Marseille once possessed and gladly displayed. The huge, ornate buildings and elegant hotels that once stood on each side of the street have now mostly been converted into restaurants, shops or offices, but they still conserve some of their previous grandeur. The avenue stretches almost one kilometer from the Vieux Port, and leads to the fun Capucin neighborhood, among others.
Vieux-Port (Old Port)

2) Vieux-Port (Old Port) (must see)

The Old Port of Marseille, or Vieux-Port, is located at the end of the Canebière. In 600 BC, Greek settlers from Phocaea landed in the Lacydon, a rocky Mediterranean cove, now the site of the Old Port of Marseille. They set up a trading post in the hills on the northern shore. Until the 19th century, the Old Port remained the center of maritime activity in Marseille. The great St. Victor's Abbey was gradually built between the third and ninth centuries on the hills to the south of the Old Port, on the site of a Hellenic burial ground.

According to John Murray, in 1854 the Old Port had a capacity of between 1,000 and 1,200 ships. Roughly 18,000 merchant ships passed through the port each year, carrying about 20 million barrels worth of freight; this represented a quarter of the trade in Liverpool at the time. Today the Old Port is used only as a marina and as a terminal for local boat trips.

In World War II the Old Port was left in complete ruins. According to eye-witness accounts, in January 1943, the Nazis, aided by the French police, dynamited much of the historic old town and demolished the gigantic aerial ferry or "transbordeur", an engineering tour de force that had become a major landmark of Marseille, comparable to the Eiffel tower in Paris. This became known as the "Battle of Marseille". In 1948 Fernand Pouillon was put in charge of the reconstruction of the devastated old quarter.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Abbaye Saint-Victor

3) Abbaye Saint-Victor (must see)

The Abbey of St. Victor is a late Roman former monastic foundation in Marseille named after the local soldier saint and martyr, Victor of Marseilles.

Tradition holds that in about 415, John Cassian founded two monasteries of St. Victor at Marseille, one for men (the later Abbey of St. Victor), the other for women. While Cassian certainly started monastic life in Marseille, he is probably not the founder of the abbey, as the archaeological evidence of Saint Victor only goes back to the end of the 5th century. Tradition also has it that it contains the relics of the eponymous martyr of Marseille from the 4th century. In reality, the crypts preserve highly valuable archaeological evidence proving the presence of a quarry exploited in Greek times.

The abbey is an imposing monument with an almost military architecture that evokes the medieval past of the city. The building is obviously classified as a historical monument, and it would be a shame to go to Marseille without coming to make a turn. On the one hand, because the monument itself is interesting, and partly because you have, from the forecourt, a stunning view of the Old Port!

Why You Should Visit:
The structure is wonderfully preserved, with plenty of good (English-translated) information and explanation of the various areas and artifacts inside.

Do pay the small fee to go downstairs and visit the wonderful crypt – it is pretty much like entering another world!

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-7:30pm; Sun: 9am-6pm
To visit the crypt, plan your visit from 4 to 6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cours Honore-d'Estienne-d'Orves

4) Cours Honore-d'Estienne-d'Orves

The centre of Marseille has several pedestrianised zones. One of them is Cours Honoré-d'Estienne-d'Orves, a large square off the Vieux-Port. e Ville.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Opéra Municipal

5) Opéra Municipal

L’Opéra de Marseille, or Opéra Municipal, dates from its opening on 4 December 1924. It features a classic urn-shaped auditorium, three rings of boxes, two balconies and a gallery. A large sculpted frieze by sculptor Antoine Bourdelle frames the stage. In 1685, the city was the second in France after Bordeaux to have an opera house which was erected on a tennis court.

However, the first real theater, the Grand-Théâtre was constructed in 1787. During its period of great opulence following the Revolution, it was the site of many major opera presentations, including Verdi’s Rigoletto and Il Trovatore in 1860. Also, French premieres of major operatic works were given in the theater: these include Aida (1877), La Fanciulla del West (1912), and an historic performance by Dame Nellie Melba in Ambroise Thomas’ Hamlet in 1890. Some years following the installation of electricity, in November 1919 a fire destroyed the eighteenth century theater, leaving only its shell and an exterior stone colonnade.

The Grand-Théâtre was designed by the three architects Ebrard, Castel, and Raymond. Many well-known contemporary singers made their French debuts in this opera house. Among them are Alfredo Kraus, Plácido Domingo, and Renata Scotto. Past music directors of the company have included János Fürst. After World War II the Marseille opera house staged Sigurd by Ernest Reyer in 1963 and 1995.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Rue Paradis

6) Rue Paradis

In keeping with the neighboring rue de Rome, rue Paradis, one of the most fashionable and top-end shopping areas of Marseille, established as far back as 1044, is soon to get a major and largely deserved “face-lift” of its own, between the squares of Estrangin and General de Gaulle, en route to La Canebière. The works include widening sidewalks, creating functional areas for deliveries, arranging parking and planting of trees, all of which are due to be completed by early 2018. Previously, this area underwent its first urban renovation, seeing the enlargement of the city wall under Louis XIV, back in 1666.
Rue St. Ferréol

7) Rue St. Ferréol (must see)

This bustling pedestrian street is the heart of Marseille's shopping district. A large variety of boutiques, galleries, superstores guarantee that you will find anything you are looking for. Shopping spots include the Galleries Lafayette, H&M, Sephora, Mango, Zara, the Virgin Megastore, and many more.
Rue de Rome

8) Rue de Rome

If you're into fashion at reasonable prices, Rue de Rome is your place. Young girls and youngsters regularly storm the area's numerous shoe-, clothes-, and accessories stores for a quality gear at remarkably low prices. One such spot is Monoprix, commonly referred to as "Baze" after its founder, a human-size supermarket with a broad range of inexpensive goods and generous opening hours. Rue de Rome is also home to some traditional shops like Le Père Blaize, a herb outlet in business since 1815. The launch of a new tramway line across Rue de Rome in 2015 saw the street totally renovated; broadened sidewalks, more trees and less traffic have largely contributed to the restoration of its yesteryear luster.
Cours Julien

9) Cours Julien (must see)

This beautiful garden close to the district of La Plaine is a fashionable area in Marseille offering shops, bars, restaurants, theaters and concert halls. Today it is one of the most beautiful and well-kept public gardens in the city as well as being the art and music capital of the region. Its population is very cosmopolitan as thousands of people from different backgrounds live there. The huge fountain in the square and the playground draws in local families as well as tourists. There isn't anything specific to do here, but the area is so vibrant and colorful that it's an attraction in itself. Bring your camera!

Try to visit after 5pm when the whole vibe changes and the area starts buzzing with people of all ages and styles.
Mornings are also fun – those who love outdoor food markets may want to check out the organic market (8am-1pm).
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Marseille, France

Create Your Own Walk in Marseille

Create Your Own Walk in Marseille

Creating your own self-guided walk in Marseille is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Marseille Introduction Walk I

Marseille Introduction Walk I

Located on the Mediterranean coast of France, Marseille is the largest commercial port and the second most populous city in France. Being also the country's oldest, the city is known for its ancient heritage, distinctive culture, ethnic diversity and strong identity, all of which secures for Marseille the status of a major tourist destination. Follow this orientation walk to explore some of...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Marseille's Historical Churches Walking Tour

Marseille's Historical Churches Walking Tour

Marseille is rich in sacred places, religious sights and buildings. Most of them represent Roman-Byzantine style and wouldn’t leave you indifferent. Often their interior is decorated with inlaid marble, mosaics and murals.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.6 Km or 3.5 Miles
Historical Landmarks Walking Tour

Historical Landmarks Walking Tour

As Marseilles is the oldest city in France, it has a lot to offer visitors interested in history. It has many ancient buildings and churches of historical interest. All of these ancient buildings are very popular among tourists and have a rich history. Don't miss the chance to visit some of its most interesting constructions.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 Km or 2.9 Miles
Marseille's Museums Walking Tour

Marseille's Museums Walking Tour

Marseille, as the oldest city of France, has a rich history. It is home of diverse museums and galleries. Many of them are beautiful and interesting buildings which have become important landmarks. This walking tour will take you to them to know better understand French history and culture.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles