France's third largest city and unquestionable melting pot, Marseilles has long been a city of vast and varied cultures. With hoards of Italian, Spanish and North African immigrants, Marseiiles' vibrant culture and scenic streets make it one of the most charactered cities in France.

WHAT TO DO

While situated in the Provence along the French Mediterranean coast, Marseilles is known as a melting pot of cultures. Closely situated from Northern Africa, the bustling city has a large number of immigrants from this area of the world. A far cry from the sleepy villages of Cezanne paintings or the lavender fields near Avignon. In fact, the city is the third largest city in France and hosts a rich cultural background. With Northern Africans, Spanish and Italian immigrants abound, Marseilles is perhaps not a place people fall in love with right away, but it s city a colorful and bustling city that is always dynamic and vibrant.

Visitors to Marseilles shop in the colorful and African inspired markets like the Noailles market, visit the Calanques (fjords) that give Marseilles its distinctive and recognizable physical backdrop, hang out in the Vieux-Port (Old Harbor) or simply spend some time strolling the Corniche along the Mediterranean.

Visitors can also visit Le Panier (which is translated directly as "the basket") as one of the oldest areas of the city and the original place immigrants moved when coming to Marseilles. The city is also home to some world famous soaps. Make sure not to miss the cities famous regional dish, a fish stew called Bouillabaisse that is truly delicious. For more detailed ideas on how to get off the beaten path in Marseilles, visit France Travel Guide (you can even check out what the weather will be like or what French food is all about)

GETTING THERE

As one of the largest cities in France, it shouldn't be too difficult getting a flight into Marseilles (airport code MRS). Buses and taxis connect the airport with the city, which is 30 kilometers away. For those coming from Paris, the best way to get to Marseilles to to hop on the TGV (high speed French train). The train ride only takes 3 hours and is much faster than driving.

WHERE TO STAY

There are huge number of hotels in Marseilles to chose from. Whether you are looking from something high-end or budget, this city has the right accommodation for a traveler of any budget. For those backpacking or on a shoestring budget, there are also some hostels in Marseilles to chose from. French Bed and Breakfasts (called Chambres d’Hotes and Gites) are also an affordable and often very comfortable place to stay across the country.