Although part of the region of Provence, Marseille has a soul of its own. Founded in 600 BC. by the Greek sailors of Phocaea, this great city is the oldest in France and surely the most complex. Marseilles, in the time of the French colonies, was the gateway to the Mediterranean, Today Marseilles remains a capitol of southern Europe, cosmopolitan and exuberant, with its picturesque old port, its Bouillabaisse and its folklore.
The Old Port (Vieux Port) of Marseille surrounds a lively yacht marina and is known for its stylish hotels, waterfront cafes, and seafood restaurants serving mullet and lobster from the quayside fish market. Guarding the port is the centuries-old Fort Saint-Jean, which stands near the Romanesque-style Saint-Laurent Church. Late-night bars and clubs fill pedestrianized streets close to the art deco Opéra de Marseille. Just uphill is the ancient Le Panier neighbourhood, the oldest section of the city. Also worth an explore is the République quarter, with its stylish boutiques and Haussmannian buildings, and the Joliette area, centred on Marseille’s totemic Cathédrale de Marseille Notre Dame de la Major.
One can climb to visit the church of the patron saint of sailors, Notre Dame de La Garde. One can admire the cliffs the "Estaque" inspiration to Cézanne or go to Treille to pay homage to the well-loved Provencal writer Marcel Pagnol. Marseille can also be visited from the coast. From the islands "lles de Frioul" and the Chateau d'If with its legend of the Count of Monte Cristo, one has a beautiful view of this ancient maritime site.