Even a short stay reveals Marseille to be the quintessential Mediterranean city - brash, beautiful and bathed in sunshine.

The city of Marseille is France's second largest, and the contrast with its rival Paris couldn't be greater. Its role as a port has given it a cosmopolitan flavour, with people from cultures and countries from all over - Vietnam, the Comoros, China, Turkey, Algeria, Portugal, Italy - calling Marseille, 'the Phocean city', home.

Air France flights to Marseille take as little as 14 hours from Cape Town or Johannesburg , making for a relatively easy journey to this city of 1.7 million souls. Marseille-Provence Airport is located 25km from the city centre, which may be reached by train or taxi. The local currency is the Euro, and Marseille is one hour behind South African time.

Most people travel to Marseille outside the Winter season, but even as late in the year as November, temperatures can reach highs of 15°C, making it a Winter sun destination with a difference. It's a good idea to check if there are any special offers available if you are travelling at this less busy time of the year.

As a city with a 2,600 year old history, it's not surprising that Marseille has a number of excellent museums exploring this rich heritage, including the spanking new Musée des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée, which focuses on the culture and history of the peoples and states that have left their mark on this part of the world, and the Marseille History Museum. The church of Notre Dame de la Garde reflects much of this history. It is built upon the site of a 13th century church, has shared the hill with military forts, served as a temporary prison for French royalty and now offers a magnificent vantage point over the city and the sea.

Marseille - the Mediterranean on a plate and an epic journey for your tastebuds!

Marseille being a maritime city, it's a great place to savour the bounty of the ocean - seafood-lovers will find the cost of their airplane ticket is worth every cent when they try some of Marseille's most famous dish, Bouillabaisse. This fish stew usually contains three different kinds of local fish, sea urchins, spider crab, mussels and vegetables. The less famous Bourride based on monkfish and mayonnaise is worth trying too. The city is also well-known for a number of savoury pastes and spreads, such as Aïoli (garlic, eggs, lemon juice, olive oil), Anchoïade (anchovies, black olives, garlic and olive oil), and Tapenade (capers, olives and olive oil). And no holiday in Marseille would be complete without having tried the aniseed-flavoured spirit that is so typical of the city - Pastis.
Of course, there's nothing like seeing what you're going to eat later in the day on sale in the daily fish market on the Quai des Belges in the Vieux Port, which has been the location of Marseille's main harbour since the 6th century BC. A short walk from the Vieux Port is the 5km long coastal promenade called 'La Corniche', from which you can enjoy beautiful views of the Frioul islands and the Château d'If. This island fortress in the Bay of Marseille was constructed to defend the port from enemy attack, but it is now best known for the key role it plays in Alexandre Dumas' celebrated novel, the Count of Monte Cristo. The Château is open to the public and offers a chance to venture out of the city. Other interesting excursions worth making during any stay to the area include the Calanques, a series of striking coastal inlets near town of Cassis, and the fishing port of l'Estaque. The easiest way to explore the region is definitely by car .

From pre-flight preparations to Marseille museum opening hours, these websites are the key to making your holiday just perfect!

Look no further for a selection of the most relevant Marseille and France travel websites: