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Sample Marseille on your holidays to France
An ancient maritime port and a melting pot in the Mediterranean, Marseille is a vibrant city undergoing extensive regeneration. A visit to this exciting multicultural city could be the highlight of any holidays to France.
Easyjet (www.easyjet.com) flies to Marseille from Bristol and London Gatwick. London flights start from £22.99 outbound and £17.37 inbound, with similar prices available for Bristol flights. Even with additional charges for luggage and credit card fees, it is possible to find a round trip fare for around £60.
The sea-faring Greeks of Asia Minor established a colony called Massilia 2500 years ago, and Marseille is still a city that looks to the sea. Get your bearings at the Vieux Port, where locals and tourists gather to eat fish, sip pastis, and grin as the Mistral breeze ruffles the rigging on the fishing boats.
Uphill from here are the tightly-packed streets of the old bar and cabaret quartier of Le Panier. Rapidly gentrifying, it retains a little of its bohemian identity, although the streets are lined with galleries and chic patisseries rather than louche clubs these days.
From the shore you can look out to the old prison island of Château D’If, made famous as the place of incarceration for the Count Of Monte Cristo. Boat trips will take you out to explore the prison ruins, but it's now a seabird sanctuary.
For the real flavour of Marseille, sample the signature dish of bouillabaisse (www.bouillabaisse.com), for which the translation "fish stew" is woefully inadequate. The Michelin-starred chef Christian Buffa in Restaurant Miramar on the quayside provides a crash course in making the dish, followed by an appetising bowlful by the water.
For more ideas of what to see in the Marseille region on your holidays to France, check the information and guides at www.visitprovence.com