10 things to do in Marseille

love it!’s ANNA BIBBY visits Marseille, the port city in southern France that has been a crossroads of immigration and trade since its founding in 600BC. It’s a place of tranquil squares and stepped streets, bustling 19th-century avenues and souk-like markets. Here’s her top 10 things to do and see…

1. MUSÉE DES CIVILISATIONS DE L’EUROPE This stunning museum explores the history, culture and civilisation of the Mediterranean region through anthropological exhibits, rotating art exhibitions and film.

2. VIEUX PORT Ships have docked for more than 2,600 years at the city’s birthplace, the colourful old port. The southern quay is lined with bars, brasseries and cafes, and there are more to be found around Place Thiars and Cours Honoré d’Estienne d’Orves.

3. LE PANIER From the Vieux Port, hike north up to this fantastic historywoven quarter, which is fabulous for a quiet wander with its artsy ambience, cool hidden squares and sun-baked cafes.

4. CENTRE DE LA VIEILLE CHARITÉ In the heart of the Le Panier quarter is this gorgeous architectural complex, built as a charity shelter for the town’s poor by local architect and sculptor Pierre Puget (1620–94), who was born just a couple of streets away.

5. BASILIQUE NOTRE DAME DE LA GARDE This opulent 19th-century Romano- Byzantine basilica occupies Marseille’s highest point, La Garde (162m). Built between 1853 and 1864, it is ornamented with coloured marble, murals depicting the safe passage of sailing vessels and superb mosaics. The hilltop gives a 360-degree panorama of the city.

6. VILLA MÉDITERRANÉE This eye-catching white structure sports a spectacular cantilever overhanging an ornamental pool. Inside there’s a viewing gallery with a glass floor and multimedia exhibitions.

7. L’AROME The current hot tip in the trendy area around Cours Julien is this tiny bistro on a graffiti-clad street flanked by ethnic restaurants. The no-frills decor, relaxed service and menu of French market classics have made this diner incredibly popular. Reservations are essential!

8. CAFÉ POPULAIRE Vintage furniture, old books on the shelves and a fine collection of glass soda bottles lend a retro air to this trendy, 1950sstyled jazz restaurant.

9. LES BUFFETS DU VIEUX PORT A high-class, on-trend self-service canteen, with a vast array of starters, mains, salads and desserts laid out like a banquet for diners to help themselves. Premium cold cuts, fresh seafood, mussels, fish soup – it’s all here and more. Portside tables go fast, but there’s plenty of room inside.

10. MAISON DE LA BOULE Pick up your own travelling set of handmade boules – complete with matching bag – plus plenty of other souvenirs relating to France’s iconic game.