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With temperatures expected to reach record highs in Europe throughout the fall, tourists are once again flocking to the continent’s southern coast for a late-night beach getaway.
After all, now is the perfect time not only for swimming and sunbathing, as the temperatures are still warm, but also for sightseeing.
Europe has no shortage of incredible destinations to choose from, such as cradle of western civilization and the proud home of several world-famous monuments, but it is the most fascinating place that is usually overlooked, as tourism is concentrated in only a handful of cities.
This season, it’s time to ditch the obvious choice and head instead to this underrated Mediterranean city, renowned for its vast cultural wealth and French Riviera:
Who would have thought that the oldest city in France had so much to offer?
Marseille, France’s oldest city and second largest, is located on the Mediterranean coast, 781.2 miles from Paris.
Although the capital needs no introduction, its southern counterpart is often bypassed by tourists, too enamored of Paris’ carefully arranged Haussmannian buildings. districts and the glittering Eiffel Tower to explore France beyond its borders.
As you are about to learn, Marseille is an equally incredible city breakoffering visitors a different side of France and a completely different experience to that of the glamorous capital.
With nearly a million inhabitants, it is a large European city and a Mediterranean port with a thousand-year-old history.
Founded by the Greeks as early as 600 BC on the Gulf of Lion, where the Rhône meets the ocean, it is the first known major colony on current French territory.
Due to its ancient nature, it has centuries and centuries of accumulated heritage, from Greco-Roman ruins to medieval structures.
A truly cosmopolitan city
The most historic part of Marseille is the Old Port, the heart of the city, where the majority of historically important buildings are concentrated, and the birthplace of the famous Marseille soap, made for the first time in the region at the late Middle Ages.
But what is most interesting about Marseille is its multicultural character. Located on the Mediterranean coast, directly facing Africa, it has been strongly influenced by foreign cultures, particularly North African, in North Africa.
A significant percentage of the local population is from the neighboring continent, meaning Marseille has a large Muslim population and also has the third largest Jewish community in all of Europe, after London and Paris.
In a sense, it is a truly cosmopolitan cityperhaps one of the most diverse in Europe, where different religious groups and people from all walks of life live together.
A classic Mediterranean skyline
The iconic Marseillaise The skyline consists of the Old Port, with narrow streets lined with ocher or brightly colored houses, contrasting sharply with the darker colors of Paris, leading to the imposing Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilicaa combined neo-Byzantine and novel effort.
As the town itself is located in a natural bay, it is surrounded by stunning nature, including the Calanques National Park, which is home to the iconic Sormiou Calanque, the largest in the chain.
Calanques are narrow coves of crystal clear water flanked by high limestone precipices commonly found in the province and are a natural wonder of the region. Mediterranean Basin.
Marseille can also be rather original, with its rebellious art scene and vibrant nightlifeto discover in the bohemian Panier district, the oldest in the city, dating from the Greek period, and in the bar-filled Cours Julien.
Marseille is still hot to visit
In autumn, temperatures remain relatively high in the upper 60sand even if it is not as hot as in summer, it is still pleasant enough to walk around the center without feeling overwhelmed by the heat and even to swim on one of the city’s heavenly beaches.
The best in and around Marseille include the Plage des Catalans (or Plage des Catalans), a long stretch of sand surrounded by the shallow, crystal clear, warm waters of the Mediterranean, the Plages du Prado, which stretch to 5 km south of the Plages des Catalans, and the neighboring naturist hotspot of Huveaune.
If you’re looking for exclusivity, the beautiful island of Degaby, just off the mainland, is owned by the five-star C2 Hotel, with beaches accessible only to guests.
An overnight stay at Degaby will only cost you $280.70 this season now that prices have fallen in France.
Of course, there are much cheaper accommodations in the city, it all depends on your preferences and budget.
On Reservation.comYou’ll find rooms at the three-star Holiday Inn Express Marseille Saint Charles, a 0.5km walk from the center, for just $126 a night, and even cheaper shared accommodation in hostels, like The People, from $42.
Generally, consumer prices are 8% lower in Marseille than in Paris.
Marseille has become much safer to visit
In recent decades, it has acquired a reputation for insecurity, attributed to trends in crime and ghettoization, particularly in the wake of Europe’s refugee crisis and skyrocketing unemployment rates, but this does not mean that Marseille should be avoided at all costs.
Every big city has its challenges, and a city as large as Marseille will inevitably be affected by a higher proportion of crime than other smaller municipalities in the French hinterland.
That being said, compared to cities of similar size outside the country, one could argue that it is very safe.
As reported Local, almost all U.S. cities of the same population size have recently reported higher murder rates. In just three months in 2022, Baltimore has recorded 66 homicides, double the number reported by Marseille authorities for the entire year.
Certainly, Marseille is no safer than the incredibly peaceful Helsinki in Finland, or the picturesque Ljubljana in the small central European nation of Slovenia, but for a metropolis of its size on the international stage, it has acceptable crime rates.
Generally, the whole of France is considered a level 2 destination, meaning Americans should exercise greater caution when visiting due to the threat of terrorism and higher risk of pickpocketing. Recently, France was designated as the worst European country in this area.
When walking in Marseille, especially in tourist areas, just keep your personal belongings with you and be attentive in crowds.
There are currently no scheduled non-stop passenger flights between the United States and Marseille, the closest French coastal airport to accommodate them being Nice, at 2:40 a.m. with the SCNF train.
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This article was originally published on TravelOffPath.com