France’s sunniest and oldest city may not have the glamour of some of its Cote D’Azur neighbours, but what it lacks in glitz, it certainly makes up for in authenticity and cultural depth. France's second-biggest city, Marseille served as European Capital of Culture in 2013 and is a fantastic hub of museums, creativity and colour. The Le Panier district is a vivid illustration of this - with its faded streets revitalised by overflowing flowerpots and pretty naturally-distressed doorways.
Look down to the yacht-crammed port - where fishermen still unload fresh catches - from the viewpoint at the spectacular Notre-Dame de la Garde - a true crowning glory. Standing over walled fortifications - and capped by an elegant dome - the soaring golden statue of Madonna and Child rises high into the air and is visible all over the city. The huge Marseille Cathedral is equally impressive, with its stunning zebra-striped exterior. Palais Longchamp, built-in 1862, twinkles with flowing water, and its saturated gardens and splashing fountains were built to celebrate the engineering feat of successfully redirecting water to the city.
You can’t leave Marseille without tucking into its famous fish stew – bouillabaisse. Flavoured with thyme, garlic and hunks of Mediterranean fish and plump prawns, it’s a bold and delicious taste of Provence. Wash your hands clean after, with some of Marseille’s traditional soap, created using a fragrant recipe of rich olive oil. Escape the hubbub of the city, to soak in the natural glory of Calanques National Park. Hike, kayak and sail your way through a treasure trove of limestone cliffs, dropping off to hidden beaches.