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The Oldest City in France

The city of Marseilles in Provence was founded around 600 BC by Greek settlers from Phocaea and it remains a truly historic place. It is also the oldest city in France.


Originally named Lacydon (a rocky Mediterranean cove), it became a trading post as the Greek settlers started to build out from the port. The port itself remains a natural harbour and is an impressive view on a nice warm sunny day.

the old port of Marseille

The streets around the old port have a very familiar French feel to them, with lots of wonderful windows and balconies, overlooking the square and many eateries that surround them. The particular image below shows the headquarters of La Marseillaise newspaper and online media resource famous around the Provence area. Of course, the small restaurants and cafes in this square served lovely beers and coffee, and being so close to the sea, the seafood was incredible too.

the streets around the old port of Marseille

Take a small trip out of the old port and start to climb the hills that surround the city, you will reach the lower slopes with some wonderful views.

Sport plays an important role in this region and the football pitches are given as much priority as housing - in the distance you can see the coastline and commercial port of Marseille.

Marseille and the commercial port

Whilst on the lower slopes, you can clearly see the Frioul Islands, a small archipelago off the coast, which is reachable by small boat or ferry from the old port. These islands are another reason that the port became such an important trading spot, with its natural surroundings and protection.

The Frioul Islands off Marseille in the sunshine

The main reason for climbing this particular hill was to see the architecture of the Basilica Notre Dame de la Garde, one of the most famous landmarks in Marseille, and of course, to experience the Mistral. To those who have never visited this part of France, the Mistral is a force of nature, a strong wind coming down from the mountains and sweeping over the land, so strong that at times, parts of the city become unsafe to visit. The area around the Basilica was actually closed the day before we made the journey due to the strength of the Mistral. Quite awe-inspiring really.

Notre Dame de la Garde, in Marseille

As well as holding the title of the oldest city in France, Marseille is also the second largest after the capital, Paris, and looks set to expand as more inhabitants and visitors arrive.

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