Marseille is one of the oldest cities in Europe, but it's also one of the most alive. It thrives on change and the influx of the new, a true global melting pot since its founding in 600BC. The best places to stay in Marseille reflect this diversity with everything from cheap and chic to five star luxury on offer.
Marseille is also the second largest city in France, by population, and the largest by area. So get ready to jump into the colourful markets - which will transport you to more distant lands, to marvel at the natural beauty of the Calanques - fjord-like cliffs which fall dramatically into the sea, and to delve into the history of the old part of town and the old harbour - le Vieux Port.
Being European Culture Capital in 2013 meant museums, galleries and accommodation options have had a recent spruce up, so it's a great time to visit Marseille. It wasn't just the galleries and museums given a spruce up leading up to 2013, it was also many of Marseille's historic palaces, churches and other treasures. And with 2600 years of history to explore you'll find plenty to keep you interested.
Whatever your reason for being in Marseille, hanging around by the old port and seeing local fishermen auction off their catch is worth doing. As is the Notre Dame de la Garde, a big old church with wonderful views over the entire city.
Marseille also has numerous museums worth poking your way through, and you should definitely stroll through le Cours Julien, which is the trendy area of Marseille, full of bookshops, cafes and a lively market on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Everyone who visits Marseille also takes a stroll along la Corniche, which is right beside the sea, and has a drink at Escale Borely, which also has great sea views. If it's a nice day it's also worth considering a trip out to the Chateau d'If, a fortress on an island just off the city. First a city defence, it was later turned into a prison, and is best know for appearing in The Comte de Monte-Cristo.
The areas of La Panier, the historic home of Marseille's marketplace, and Noailles, which is lined with Arabic and Indo-Chinese shops, are worth exploring as well if you have time.
Marseille is a great spot for romantics who thrive on buzz. Relaxing this town is not, but if you want lively nightlife, plenty of choice when it comes to cultural events - and even more when it comes to eating and drinking, then Marseille is for you.
Stylish modernity close to the old port. This Philippe Starck designed Marseille hotel offers industrial-meets-kitsch style and caters for a trendy crowd. Good for solo travellers, couples and families who like a buzzy atmosphere in minimalist surroundings. Excellent value.
Panoramic views over Provencal rooftops, gourmet food, and pop-art inspired rooms at this attractive sandstone bastide. A romantic setting for couples and great venue for a wedding reception.
Designer B&B in central Marseille. Huge all-white bedrooms and granite bathrooms, courtyard swimming pool, and an excellent restaurant a few doors down. A chic spot.
Where the Mediterranean sea ends there lies this five-star hotel. The spectacular views and calming ambiance extend to the cocktail bar, leafy terrace, swimming pool, famous Gérald Passédat restaurant and spacious rooms. These are immaculate and simple, decorated in a lovely contemporary style.