Marseille and the Calanques, France

Another place that I went to over the summer of 2017 was Marseille and the Calanques. The main goal was to visit an old friend of mine, but naturally, we also did some sightseeing in the city itself and what a beautiful city it can be! The centre of the city and the southern parts especially are very nice (more specifically, Arrondissements 1, 6, and 7).

History of Marseille

Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde

The city itself has its roots in ancient Roman and Greek times and has been an important city for both the Mediterranean and France for thousands of years. Unfortunately, due to heavy damage during the Second World War, a lot of this history has been destroyed. What remains as well as what has been built around it can be a very beautiful sight to behold.

A panorama of the city from the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde

A lot of the architecture of the larger buildings resembles a pattern of alternating white limestone and green sandstone, reminiscent of zebra striping. The scale, especially of the larger buildings (usually churches and cathedrals), can be quite monumental.

Ch√Ęteau de la Buzine outside the city

Another feature of Marseille that is also on a monumental scale is the Port Vieux (old port). Port Vieux acts as a focus for the city. Port Vieux no longer plays host to shipping as it did in the past. Instead, it is host to personal yachts and sailboats. The atmosphere is quite relaxed; it is obviously a tourist trap with all of the vendors, Irish pubs, and expensive restaurants.

An anchor representing the city’s important maritime history

Here are some more photos from around the city:


Personally, my favourite part of the city is actually apart from all of the buildings. The 9th Arrondissement contains a natural park. This in turn contains Calanques, which are areas of lime- or sandstone that have been eroded by small rivers and creeks over long periods of time. This has created nice isolated inlets with very steep sides. These inlets often have beaches at the very bottom where the small river or creeks meet the ocean. The inhabitants of Marseille like to get away from the city and go to the Calanques.

I was very fortunate to be travelling by car, so visiting the Calanques was very possible. Due to the risk of fire, we had to park outside of the natural park and walk all the way from the car to the Calanque du Sormiou which was a steep, mostly climb up a high ridge and a steep, winding climb back down to sea level.

How can I get there?

Marseille can be reached via road, rail and also ship. Ferries operate between France, Italy and Algeria. There is also an airport shared with Aix-en-Provence.

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