Marseille is an old city located in the south of France, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It is the largest city in France after Paris. This city is known for its beautiful seashore, as well as the largest commercial port city in Europe. Marseille has many attractions, and one of the most famous is Calanques National Park. The park is located in a small town called Cassis. The park has limestone cliffs and inlets, a beautiful valley, and the famous coral bay known as “a small paradise of France.” To enjoy the beauty of the park, rent a tourist boat. Or for those of you who like to exercise, walking is also a good option. Besides the beauty of the valley and the bay, you can also see the 900 species of plants. There are also some rare animal species, such as B Bonelli’s Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and Great Horned Owl.
After visiting the park, you can go back to Marseille and visit the Old Port. Old Port was set up as a trading post in the 6th century BC, then quays and a shipyard were built in the 16th century. Old Port still has several historical buildings such as the former fortress, a lighthouse, and other historical relics. Another popular place to go is the MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations), which contains a collection of the history of civilization in the Mediterranean region. In addition, you can also visit the Musée Regards de Provence, a modern art museum, built by Fernand Pouillon and containing several ancient collections of painting, photography and sculptures from the 17th century to the present.
Marseille is also known for a unique art called santons. Santons are small, hand-painted terracotta figurines. The French artisan, Lagnel, began making them in the 18th century, and the tradition has continued until now. The Santons exhibition is held every year from the last week of November until December 31st. This is a joint exhibition featuring the work of different santons craftsmen. In this exhibition, each craftsman competes in making various kinds of santons.
Beside the Santons exhibition, there are several other festivals such as Marseille’s Carnaval, the World Festival of Underwater pictures, Christmas Markets, and others. If you’re a foodie, this is the right city for you to visit. Marseille has many traditional French dishes readily available, such as Pasta al Pesto, Alouettes’ sans tête (beef rolls), Panisse (garbanzo bean rolls), Chichi frégi, and rock fish soup. These dishess can be easily found in any restaurant or cafe in Marseille. At Christmas time, you can find Navettes, a common Christmas dish. Navettes is a biscuit made using traditional methods. The biscuit dough is formed from high quality flour, then baked in an ancient oven, so these biscuits have a unique flavor. Besides Navettes there is also a tradition called Gros Souper, which is a big meal without any meat, ending with 13 desserts. This meal is traditionally served on Christmas Eve, before the midnight mass.
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Have a safe and wonderful travels!