ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Visiting the Old Port, Marseille, France: some impressive and largely unchanging views

Updated on March 11, 2013
Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
Traditional fishing at the Old Port, Marseille
Traditional fishing at the Old Port, Marseille | Source
The Old Port, Marseille, viewed from Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde Basilica
The Old Port, Marseille, viewed from Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde Basilica | Source
Marseille Mayor and Deputy Gaston Defferre (right) fighting a duel with Deputy René Ribière (left) in 1967
Marseille Mayor and Deputy Gaston Defferre (right) fighting a duel with Deputy René Ribière (left) in 1967 | Source
Map location of Marseille, France
Map location of Marseille, France | Source

Taking the long view

This is one of the very widely familiar scenes of France: the masts yachts, and fishing boats at the Old Port of Marseille (1) (French: Vieux-Port de Marseille ), overlooked as it it by Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica (French: Basilique de Notre-Dame de la Garde ) (2). Variations on this scene, from many angles, have found themselves into guidebooks and onto calendars over very many years.

There is a curious sense of timelessness about the Old Port of Marseille. Known by Greeks in Antiquity as Massilia, it is remarkable to consider that this port city was thriving when many of the leading cities of the modern world did not exist.

In the 19th century, what is now the Old Port began to be supplemented by a new port at La Joliette; in the 20th century, Marseille's huge container facilities supplemented existing ones. The great port expansion which came about especially from the middle of the 19th century was caused partly by France's increasing colonial trading activities in the Mediterranean area and also by increased shipping resulting from the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.

Some people comment that many of the local people who frequent the Old Port and its cafés are tacit — or more than tacit — supporters of the National Front (French: Front national). Good Republicans are said sometimes to cringe at the disobliging remarks which might sometimes be heard made about foreigners or immigrants: but it is worthwhile remembering also that many workers of the Bouches-du-Rhône department, who in recent years have supported the National Front, are former Communists: one wonders how such a striking, outward shift of allegiance has been internalized. In fact, the reality is that Marseille has for thousands of years been open to overseas newcomers and to the trading links with which they have been associated.

One of the buildings facing the Old Port is the City Hall (French: Hôtel de ville), a building dating from 1653, which, towards the end of World War Two was personally liberated by a Resistance fighter who became the long-serving Mayor of Marseille, Parliamentary Deputy and Interior Minister Gaston Defferre (3).

February 8, 2013

Notes

(1) While in English the name of the city has often been written with a final 's': 'Marseilles', yet increasingly the usual French spelling without the final 's': 'Marseille', is being used.

(2) The Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde Basilica was built on a 149-metre hill overlooking the Old Port between 1853 and 1864. Its style is neo-Byzantine. Its architect was Henri Espérandieu (1829-1874). Interestingly, the building of this imposing structure, development of new port facilties and French support for the opening of the Suez Canal which increased Marseille's trade all occurred during the reign of Napoleon III.

(3) Mayor Defferre (b. 1910) served in that capacity from 1944 to 1946 and again subsequently from 1953 until his death in 1986; the determined and firey Monsieur Defferre truly dominated the city's life for several decades.

Also worth seeing

In Marseille itself, its numerous visitor attractions include: the thoroughfare La Canebière leading from the Old Port; Saint-Charles Station's grand stairway; the Longchamp Palace and gardens, and many others.

...

How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Paris (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle ), where car rental is available ; a variety of air connections between Paris and Marseille is also available. The French railroad company SNCF maintains services from Paris to Marseille. (Paris-Marseille: distance: 778 kilometres.) Some services may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

For your visit, these items may be of interest

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)