Marseille is the second largest city in France, after Paris. It is in Provence – Alpes – Cote d’Azur in French Riviera. I am stationed here for 3 months since the city houses KEDGE Business School, where am at for my exchange.
Marseille is an old city, probably one of the oldest major cities of France. Historically, it has been the Port City of French Empire and that could be attributed to its cultural diversity. In my opinion, this city is least French compared to all the places I have been to in France. That makes it pretty easy for a foreigner to travel and live in Marseille. One could find plenty of people who can speak English and if you are lucky you might just bump into someone from your county. It is sort of a melting pot of cultures. It is a beautiful city and has couple of really nice places to go to.
In the central part of city near Vieux Port and Castellan you will find a lot of architecturally and historically important building to go visit by. There is a castle at the end of Vieux Port and a museum nearby which counts in to the touristy places here. A little off to that places a very beautiful Basilica, Notre Dame de la Garde sits on a hill top. Both the place and view of the city from there is beautiful. A must visit place while you are visiting Marseille is Calanques, they are wild mountain coastal area a little away from the centre of the city but easily accessible through buses to Luminy (Bus 21, 24). Marseille beach is also a nice place, if you are a fan of walking the walk through Catalans about sunset in quiet nice. For the football fans, Point Rond du Prado is where the Stade Velodrome, the home stadium of Marseille football team is.
Going about in the city is pretty easy with the network of metro, busses and trams. There are two tram lines which run between Centre Urbain and Arenc Le Silo in central are of the city. There are also two metro lines covering good part of city and all the SNCF railway stations. Metro 1 runs between La Rose and La Fourragere and Metro 2 runs between Bougainville and Saint Marguerite Dromel. Both the metros are connected to Saint Charles Gare, which is the main railway station in the city and Metro Castellan which is a station at city centre. Bus connectivity and frequency are good during the day on weekday. On weekend you will still have a lot of buses running, if not every 5 minutes then at least 3-4 every hour on all lines. There are night bus services which mostly run till midnight with about 20 minute frequencies. It is easy to figure out conveyance here as every bus stop has details of all the buses passing through that bus. If you are staying here for long it would be good to get a pass made. They are much cheaper than buying solo tickets. You can get your pass done at Metro Castellan.
City centre and Vieux Port is the most happening area here for evening and night life, one can find a range of restaurant, café, lounge and bar there. Food would certainly not be an issue here for you if you are ready to spend. There are a lot of medium budget and fast food places but if you want exotic cuisine you might have to shell out a little extra. A little tip to Indian crowd, near metro stop Noailles, one can find stores with Indian food and stuff. Best places for grocery shopping would be LeaderPrice, Carrefour and MonoPrix, and no I am not getting any money from them to write this.
Weather is generally pretty good in Marseille and yes that is true even for winters. Though, at times it can get really windy. But in winters you will be seeing more sun here than many other places in France.
Getting in and out of Marseille is pretty easy, the city is well connected to whole of France and even other neighbouring countries. There are plenty of high speed TGV to all important places about including Paris, Lyon, Brussels and Madrid. A TGV ride from Marseille to Paris would take about 3 hours or so. There are plenty of regional trains running to all the places from here, so it could be a good base if one wants to explore Riviera side of France.
This should be good to get yourself set in Marseille; it is obviously not exhaustive details about city and there could be much more which I will add if I experience. There is anything you need to know in particular then drop a message!