Marseille, France’s second largest city is also its oldest, with a history that spans 2,600 years. Marseille provides the perfect combination of rich heritage, intense culture and a fantastic location looking out to the sea. The coastal metropolis has a gritty edge and its identity shines through, which is one of the reasons which made it the European Capital of Culture 2013. HAPPYCAR is here to help you find the best rental car Marseille has to offer so you can take full advantage of this earthy city. We check the prices of international and local providers so that you don’t have to check each website to provide you with the best deals to make your money go further on a rental car that fits your rental needs.
Since Phoenician settlers arrived in Marseille around 600 BC, constant waves of immigrants into the city’s famous port developed a substantial maritime heritage that exists today in the vibrant Old Port. Its history is eventful as it has gained and lost royal privileges, recovered fortunes, suffered plagues and terror, and has seated more than one revolution. The city’s Frenchness bleeds through in its gastronomy and art, but its cosmopolitan nature also shines through. From colorful African markets and French fjords to the diverse harbor entrance and the Corniche, the road along the sea, Marseille has a lot to offer.
Le Panier is the oldest quarter and historical heart of the city, tucked away behind the town hall, you can discover its old charm by wandering through the streets on foot. The labyrinthine streets of the quarter are home to many artisan’s shops that reflect its history. From here you can visit the Roman Docks Museum and the Préau des Accoules Children’s Museum. The Chateau d’If, otherwise known as “Marseille’s Alcatraz”, can be found on Île d’If, a small island west of the port. Immortalized in The Count of Monte Cristo, it is a great place to soak in the 16th century fortress-turned-prison.
As a city full of art and culture and with two and a half millennia of history, Marseille has a lot to share. First stop is the Notre Dame de la Garde, an emblematic church with an observation point that has a great view of the city. Old fisherman used to bless their boats by this church, with model boats still be found there today. The Vieux Port or Old Harbor, is an unforgettable experience as you walk along the bay, watching fishermen sell their stock with the Mediterranean behind them. Flanking the harbor entrance are two fortresses standing guard, a remnant of the city’s final defeat as a separate entity.
Cuisine in Marseille focuses mostly on fish and seafood, with its signature dishes being the famous and expensive fish broth bouillabaisse, and aioli, a garlic sauce served with vegetables and dried cod. Thanks to an influx of African and Maghrebic immigrants into the city, a glut of Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian restaurants are to be found in abundance with cheap and authentic couscous eateries all over. Italian food is also strongly represented in Marseille as the city has long ties with Naples and Marseille’s pizza has become a force of nature. A favorite drink in Marseille is Pastis, a Mediterranean aniseed liqueur mixed with water.
You can’t miss a boat trip to the Calanques, a stunning set of pristine, fjord-like inlets that cut deep into the limestone cliffs between Cassis and Marseille, which was recently declared a national park. Marseille is situated in Provence, a region whose endless charms have inspired writers, painters and travelers alike with its lavender fields were the very same that were immortalized in the paintings of Van Gogh. A rental car in Marseille will serve you well as you are able to explore many small villages outside of Marseille, such as Allauch and Plan de Cuques, both with stunning vistas of the countryside, and Toulouse, approxately 250 miles away, and Lyon are not far away.