Bursting with energy and joie de vivre, Marseille has built on its 2013 European City of Culture title to become the creative hub of southern France. It’s also the gateway to the glories of Provence and the Côte d'Azur, with stunning beaches, scenic treats and sleepy villages just waiting to be discovered…
Described by 20th-century travel writer Basil Woon as “the world’s wickedest port”, Marseille’s image has undergone an abrupt turnaround in recent years. It’s now one of the most culturally progressive cities in France – witnessed by the opening of exciting new institutions such as the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (7 promenade Robert Laffont) and art project cum social experiment the Friche (41 rue Jobin). Alongside such edgy modern additions, you’ll find plenty of old favourites, including the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Palais de Longchamp) and the recently renovated Musée Cantini (19 rue Grignan).
Marseille’s cultural renaissance has spread to the city’s restaurants, with Michelin-starred establishments vying for custom and plenty of experimental start-ups. If you can afford to splash out then book an advance table at Le Petit Nice (17 rue des Braves), which earns its three Michelin stars with a mouthwatering selection of Provencal fare. Schilling (37 rue Caisserie) serves the best fresh fish dishes in town, while those with a sweet tooth can indulge their taste buds at artisan ice cream shop Vanille Noire (13 rue Caisserie).
The beautiful south
If cultural appeal and fabulous food can’t convince you to plan a holiday to Marseille from Glasgow Airport, then perhaps the city’s surroundings will. Marseille is the perfect stepping-off point for Provence, with its famously beautiful lavender fields and legendary vineyards. Explore the idyllic villages of Châteaudouble, Bargemon and Tourtour, the 2,000-feet-deep Verdon Gorge and the lavender-carpeted Valensole Plateau. Then ramp up the glam factor with a tour of the Côte d'Azur’s golden beaches and luxe resorts, including St Tropez and Nice.