Marseille Tourist Attractions

As the gateway into the Provence Marseille the city is sometimes overlooked as an attraction in its own right. From the stunning Old and New Port to the famous opera house and cathedral, Marseille has much to offer and it is impossible not to be impressed by the sheer number of Marseille tourist attractions that are offered for free.

Always popular with visitors of all ages is a trip to the isle of If, where the inspiration for Alexandre Dumas’ novel the Count of Monte Cristo, stands. Château d'If started life in the 16th century as a straight-forward castle but was later converted into a prison that held none other than the hero of the French Revolution, Monsieur Mirabeau.

Regular tourist boats leave from No. 1 Quai des Belges between the hours of 9.00 am to 6.00 pm from September to March and from 9.30 am to 6.30 pm from June to August. Visitors to the island can enjoy the feeling of incarceration as Alexandre’s Count would have experienced it – along with stunning views over the city and Napoleon III’s former residence directly opposite. The boat trip takes around 20 minutes to complete.

Marseille tourist attractions also include La Cathedrale de la Nouvelle Major at La Joliette, where Napoleon III had the cathedral erected in the 19th century. Spending money on an unprecedented scale, Napoleon III instructed his architects to spare no expense for the building of this Romano Byzantine landmark.

It took more than twenty years to raise the 14 million gold francs needed to complete the project, since the interior of the cathedral is so elaborate and enormous: a congregation of 3,000 souls can find room here, alongside numerous mosaics, highly decorated sculptures and statues. The views from the cathedral are amazing. Visitors have access from Tuesdays to Sundays from 9.00 am to noon and from 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm in the afternoon.

Napoleon III is also responsible for the construction of the Palais du Pharo at no. 58 Boulevard Charles-Livon. Ranking among the top five Marseille tourist attractions, the 19th century Palais du Pharo was once Napoleon III’s seaside home, offering splendid views of the Mediterranean Sea and Château d'If, the castle-turned-prison. The Palais opens to the public daily, but the hours vary as temporary exhibitions are being held there as well as conferences and receptions. The interior is stunning and should not be missed.

Other noteworthy Marseille tourist attractions include the many museums the city has to offer. Among them is the Musée de la Marine et de l'Economie, which is part of the Palais de la Bourse (Stock Exchange) complex. The Maritime and Economy Museum exhibits Marseille’s impressive heritage as one of Europe’s most important and ancient ports. From Roman usage of the Old Port to more modern uses, here Marseille shows off several centuries of its rich sea-faring history and place on the world stage of maritime commerce.

If visiting the Maritime Museum, the natural companion piece is the Musée d'Archéologie Méditerranée, which celebrates the entire Mediterranean coast and Sea, and should not be missed as a highlight among Marseille tourist attractions. The museum is located at the Centre Vieille Charité at no. 2 Rue de la Charité. The museum is home to some truly impressive artifacts and exhibits spanning several millennia, starting with an outstanding Egyptian collection to Roman glass and pottery.

The museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays in the months of October to March from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm and from April to September during the hours of 11.00 am to 6.00 pm.

The Musée de la Mode at no. 11 La Canebière will probably appeal to a more fashion conscious audience. Here France celebrates its importance as the world’s foremost house of haut couture. Dealing with the changes of fashion trends and fads, the museum also educates about the different fashion houses that created some of the world’s most glamorous looks as well as most famous brands. The fashion industry is a multi-billion dollar business and the museum pays tribute to its economic importance to the country with more than 2,000 exhibits sourced from the fashion industry.

The museum opens its doors to the public from Tuesdays to Saturdays between the hours of 10.00 am to 7.00 pm.

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