Marseilles is the center of Southern France and the second largest city in the country, teeming with lively residents, music, fine dining, and history. Marseilles was (and is) the most important trade center in the region and functioned as one of the major ports, bringing people from all around the world to the historic city. If you’re taking a trip to the south of France, you have to visit Marseilles and check out some of these five fascinating attractions.
Old Port of Marseilles
The Old Port of Marseilles is located at the end of the Canebière, the city’s historical central avenue. After taking a stroll past the cafés and boutiques, check out the waterfront. The Old Port was the natural harbor of Marseilles for centuries, but it’s now a mainly pedestrian area and is very popular with residents and tourists. If you’ve decided to visit Old Port, check out the ferryboat schedule, and it will take you around the harbor if you can make it. Since 2010, the ferryboat has been powered by solar panels for an eco-friendly way to see the waterfront.
Abbey of St. Victor, Marseille
The famous Abbey of St. Victor was set on fire and stripped of all its gold and silver (melted down into coins) in 1794. The remaining building was turned into a warehouse, and now all that’s left is the Church of St. Victor. However, the fortified stone monastery is a stunning example of ancient architecture. The church was dedicated to Pope Benedict IX in 1040 and rebuilt in 1200. Restored for worship, the faded sculptures, towers, and crypts are an austere relic of a past age.
The Chateau d’If is a fortress located on the island of If, which is about a mile off of the shore of Marseilles. It’s famous for being one of the settings of Alexandre Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Carlo.” There was a prison on the island (similar to Alcatraz) that was closed in the19th century and then opened to the public on September 23, 1890. Because of Dumas’ novel, the prison has become a major tourist attraction from those who are a fan of his novel, including Mark Twain, who visited the site in 1867! Tourists have continued to marvel at the imposing fortress ever since.