Marseille makes a stunning appearance as you approach by high-speed toll road from the north and descend through a small tunnel and into a view of the port and its cruise ships and auto ferries in gleaming white that crowd the new harbor.
While the old harbor or "Viex Port" lies hidden between the ancient forts, you follow Viex Port signs and visitor's Info signs with the big i. The highway takes you directly into the old port and at the end, the tourists information office and many parking lots.
The huge church of Notre Dame-de-la-Garde, built on a hill over 500 feet above Marseille's old harbor, dominates the city with its inescapable presence making a good reference point for a tour of France's largest port. The walls of the church still show scars from WW II.
By taking the tiny white trains that make loops carrying passengers to various points of interest including the Byzantine/Romanesque cathedral, you can get a 360 degree view from a lofty perch high above the Mediterranean and get a good feel for the size and shape of the city.
You can walk up to the cathedral, but try it only if you are in shape. Otherwise let the trolley or public bus do the work.
Marseille Provence in the South of France offers sightseeing, shopping and museums in the Old
Port. (Vieux Port) Restaurants line the old port for dining at dockside.
Marseille Tourist Offices offer maps and info; Follow the big i to the Vieux Port for parking and shuttles by both land and water. The tourist trains are a good way to visit the Cathedral.
March, April, May, and June or September and October are good times to go to Marseilles, Provence for hiking, biking and sightseeing. The weather
near Marseilles is Ideal from March to May (60-75 F) and the hiking trails of the Calanques will not be too crowded. July and August are high season and crowded. Accommodations will be scarce and hiking trails could be closed due to fire danger. ( July, August, and first twoo weeks inSeptember)
Marseilles has a dry Mediterranean climate with 300 days of sun but showers could come in Sept. Oct. and the winds in Fall and Winter can be a problem. The Mistral's cold, high winds (hurricane force) can close the trails. Parts of the GR 98 above the Calanques can be slick during wet weather, the rocks are worn smooth.
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