Founded by Greek sailors on the edge of the Mediterranean, Marseille is the oldest city in France.
It has benefited from new facilities and major renovations for 2013 when it was European Cultural Capital. It never always had a good reputation because of its crime rate and many negative headlines in the news, but you will feel well there and enjoy the real Marseille lifestyle. Locals speak loudly, debate with a strong accent and taste - often on terraces - a tasty provençal cuisine. The population is very cosmopolitan, coming from all parts of the Mediterranean, and the atmosphere is a very macho one. Gays are well integrated although discreet. So for a city break or to enjoy the beach and calanques, a trip to Marseilles will seduce you.
When to go?
Winter is not very harsh in Marseille and there are many days with beautiful sunshine. Spring and autumn are really pleasant, summer can be suffocating but with a little nap at the hottest hours the day will be most successful. The Gay Pride parade takes place at the beginning of July after a week of Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans diversity celebration.
What you must see
Thanks to amenities completed in 2013 when Marseille was European cultural capital, the city really got a new look. There is always the Vieux Port and its morning fish auction. A magnificent mirror “ombrière” now protects from the sun those awaiting for the boats. At the end of the port, you will find the fully restored Fort Saint Jean, the magnificent building of the MUCEM (museum of Europe and the Mediterranean civilisations), the Villa Méditerranée or Musée Regards de Provence. You will enjoy walking through the old Vieux Panier neighbourhood and discover the Old Charity hospice. You’ll also love to go uphill and pay tribute to the Bonne Mère. 149 m high, the basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde is topped by a gilded 12 metres Virgin And Child ; one of the symbols of the city.
What to do
Take the Corniche Kennedy coastal road and rush to the beach of Mont Rose which is the city’s gay beach or to the calanques where you can take beautiful treks. Groups like Gay Randonneurs and Rando's Provence propose treks every sunday.
Provence cuisine in all its splendour! The speciality is the bouillabaisse with red mullet, conger, scorpion fish and monkfish whose taste is enhanced with rouille sauce and croutons. Also the bourride made from white fish, pieds-paquets (sheep paunch stuffed with bacon slices in tomato sauce), octopus salad, anchoïade or pistou soup. Eating at a terrace is so nice after a glass of pastis or rosé from Provence. Casa No Name is a gay friendly restaurant. Its panisses « the Estaque way » or its steamed cod, candied lemons & artichokes and chorizo emulsion are truly delicious. The brasserie Les Danaïdes (6, square Stalingrad, 1st ardt) is also popular among the local gays.
Marseille nights offer only a few gay and lesbian addresses gay and lesbian. L'Endroit (8, Rue Bailli De Suffren, 1st) is an atmosphere bar and a hetero friendly club. Tania, its owner is very attentive and its barmen are really sexy. The place is cosy but with a friendly atmosphere. Le New Cancan (3 7 rue Sénac, 1st) is the oldest gay nightclub in Marseille. It seems stuck in the 1980s, which has a friendly side with drag shows. La Mare au Diable is another gay and lesbian club in Allauch in the close suburbs of Marseille.
Where to sleep
The lovely terrace of Les Amis de Marseille (84 rue de Lodi, 13006 Marseille) is a paradise with its views on Bonne Mère. Philippe & Jean- Laurent take time to welcome guests and make house jams. Not far from there by place Castellane, Pascal from BnB Romain and Pascal (33 rue Falque, 13006 Marseille) now offers several rooms including one on the Old Port. Here also, a Marseille welcome that leaves good memories.
Organizing your trip
A weekend easy to organise at the last minute. Located in Marignane, Marseille’s airport is served by direct flights from a hundred destinations. The train links Paris to Marseille in 3 hours and arrives at Saint Charles Station in the heart of the city. Once there, no need for a rental car: city traffic is difficult and there is a good metro, bus and tram network. The access to beaches and the calanques is is easy with regular transport service.