A city of art and culture, Marseille has many marvels to share.
The oldest city in France has become the country’s second largest. Wearing its 26 centuries of history with pride, Marseille combines tradition and modernity with a strong character.
If you want to get to know Marseille, start by taking a stroll through the Old Port, sipping an aperitif on one of the many terraces on the promenade and buying the quintessential souvenir, soap that comes from the sweeping lavender fields that bloom in the Provence region. This is a truly inspirational place, and countless artists have sought to immortalise its essence. And we can’t forget about its food; bouillabaisse is to Marseille what paella is to Valencia. Originally simple fisherman’s fare, this dish has become a sought-after delicacy, which can be enjoyed in many of the city’s restaurants. Don’t miss out on a walk along La Canebière, the city’s main thoroughfare, which leads to the port and takes you to the city’s kilometre zero marker, as well as the Grand Théâtre and Opéra de Marseille.
Here are some suggestions for films, books and music to help you discover more about Marseille and fill you with inspiration.
Marius, Fanny, César: A trilogy by Marcel Pagnol
Marcel Pagnol’s famous Marseille Trilogy tells the tragic love story of Fanny and Marius and their son Césariot.
With cult retorts, southern accents, its Old Port and glasses of Pastis aplenty, Marcel Pagnol manages to transport us back to inter-war Marseille with nostalgia and affection. These three films are today considered to be great French film classics.
Written and produced by Luc Besson, Taxi follows the adventures of Daniel, a taxi driver obsessed with speed, and Emilien, a police officer on the tail of a German gang of bank robbers on the loose in Marseille.
The first of a series of six films, which drew in six million viewers when it premiered, Taxi was a huge box-office hit and made stars of actors Samy Naceri, Frédéric Diefenthal and Marion Cotillard.
This dynamic road movie is filled with stunts set against the backdrop of inner city Marseille. Not only is the city of Marseille the setting for the film but it is also at the heart of its soundtrack, which was written by Akenatón from hip hop band IAM and showcases local artists.
Cinq dans tes yeux by Hadrien Bels
In Hadrien Bels’ debut novel, Marseille takes centre stage. It is set in the district of Le Panier in the 1990’s. The novel tells the story of a local boy whose mother is widely known to belong to an aristocratic family. He, on the other hand, goes to school with kids from other backgrounds – from Algeria, Comoras and Toulon. As he comes of age, the protagonist dreams of making a film about the streets of his childhood, with his old friends playing their own roles. It is a story that reflects the multiculturalism of the various districts of Marseille, and it is told with realism and in contemporary language.
Marseille, Porte du sud by Albert Londres
Albert Londres, a French journalist and writer, published this book in 1926. His book shines a light on what Marseille’s famous port was like at the time. It was France’s gateway to the Mediterranean at a time when boats were the main means of transport between countries. The journalist gets to grips with the quays, La Canebière and Place de la Joliette, meeting Greeks, Russians, Chinese, Armenians and sailors at the port. He tells of the unloading of cargo boats but also of the opium trade and the underworld of the port’s bars. A way of discovering Marseille between the two world wars.
Remember that if you want to discover the south of France’s most popular music, with local artists only, you can listen to our Spotify playlist. Don’t miss out!