Marseille is the second largest French city on the Mediterranean and capital of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. Unfortunately doesn’t have the best reputation, due to high crime rates and immigration.
From my travels around France, ALL the people I meet said to be very careful in Marseille or even not to go there.
I can’t say that Marseille is very safe, I could have been lucky because fortunately, I didn’t have any problems at all as a solo female traveller.
Its great to explore the city on foot, but I also recommend you to buy a bus card because the city is quite big.
Vieux-Port (Old Port)
The Old Port is located in the heart of the city and is a very popular place. The bay is packed with boats and yacht surrounded by cafes, restaurants, bars and hotels.
It is quite busy but still picturesque, with a mish-mash of styles and influences.
Notre-Dame de La Garde “La Bonne Mère”
The Notre-Dame de La Garde sits on the highest point in the city. The best part is to walk up the hill and the 360 panoramic views.
The basilica is ornamented with coloured marble, byzantine-style mosaics, and murals.
Chateau D’If Frioul
Is an incredible landmark because of The Count of Monte Cristo from Alexander Dumas. If the weather is good, you can go by boat to the island, from the Vieux Port (old port).
The fort is nice but to be honest not much to see, although the views are great.
La Major, Marseille Cathedral
It is a beautiful and at the same time unusual roman catholic cathedral built in the nineteenth century in Romano-Byzantine style.
The Cathedral of Marseille stands on the western edge of the old town above the Quai de la Joliette.
MUCEM Museum (Museum of Civilization in Europe and the Mediterranean)
The MUCEM, is an iconic museum mostly because of the structure of the building. It’s really a magnificent place and a fantastic playground if you like photography! I strongly recommend a visit even if is just to contemplate the remarkable building.
You can access, to both the courtyard of J4 and the ramparts of the fort, for free. To visit the permanent and temporary exhibitions is 9,50€.
The Virile Charité, located in the heart of Marseille’s Le Panier quarterwas built as an almshouse, although the beauty of the building doesn’t really give that impression with its neoclassical central chapel and elegant arcaded courtyard.
Today is home to a number of cultural institutions and museums.
The Fort Saint-Jean, is for me one of the best places in Marseille. The fort lies at the northern mouth of Vieux Port and was recently restored.
Its perfect for scenic strolls through its gardens, and to enjoy the views of the Mediterranean coastline.
If you go to the top of the gardens near the footbridge to MuCEM, you can see Marseille’s Cathedral, and admired the amazing views of Marseille and of the Mediterranean.
Natural History Museum of Marseille
The museum is inside the astonishing Palais Longchamp, which is worth a visit just to contemplate the architecture and the gardens. Not really worth to visit inside.
Les Docks Village
If you are into shopping Les Docks are a mid-19th century complex of shipping warehouses, that has been redeveloped and now includes shops, boutiques, galleries, cafes and restaurants.
The buildings are connected by creative courtyards. This alone can be good a reason to visit.
The quartier of Cour Julien walls are extravagantly painted for everyone to decipher and enjoy. A wonderful area with loads of quirky stores, cafes, restaurants nice bars, and colourful street art and graffiti covering most of the facades. Make sure you have the time to explore it!
A great place to buy fresh fruit and vegetables.
For some reason, Marseille also has a copy of the famous David from Michelangelo, placed in the middle of a roundabout near the Prado beaches.
photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha
Have you ever been to Marseille? What other places would you include here?
Albi is small and relatively off-the-touristy radar town on the Tarn River in southern France, conveniently located about an hour northeast from Toulouse.
Despite its size, Albi is incredibly rich in history and charm. For me is without a doubt one of my favorite small town in France.
Albi is covered in red bricks, what gives this town a charming and distinctive aspect. The best way to visit Albi is by wandering around the historic center. Through the small cobblestone streets and alleyways near the river.
The Cathedral is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. This place will take your breath-way, it’s imposingly tall and has a distinctive look for the use of brick to construct its exterior. I personally, never came across a construction of this size made of bricks.
This incredibly beautiful Gothic Cathedral is located in the middle of the lovely charming plaza filled with cafes, boulangeries, and other stores.
I found the interior as impressive as the exterior.
Maison du Vieil Alby
The Maison du Vieil Alby is a brick-half-timbered house covered in red-bricks. This house is one of the oldest-surviving buildings in Albi.
A Catholic church with a small cozy cloister, perfect stop, to have a snack or to relax.
Palais de la Berbie
The Palais de la Berbie was a former Bishop’s Palace that serves today as an art museum dedicated to the artwork of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
The gardens behind it, are truly fantastic and the view of the Tarn River spectacular.
Old medieval bridge.
The special thing about the Albi bridge is that it’s also constructed with the same red brick from which all the buildings in the old town were made.
From the bridge, you get a great view over the rest of Albi and the city of Madeleine which is located on the other side of the bridge. The river itself is also quite pretty.
From the other side of town, you have excellent views of the cathedral and the the Pont Vieux along the Tarn River
It’s a small indoor marketplace, unfortunately with no vegan options.
where to stay and how to get there
Albi is a great place to visit but is really small. So its better to base yourself in the nearby big city of Toulouse and do Albi as a day trip. Toulouse as plenty of accommodation choices and Albi doesn’t.
Toulouse has plenty of hostels, hotels as well as a range of AirB&Bs to choose from.
Blabla car works really well in France and is a great way to meet local people.
Toulouse is a charming French town that surprises with its enchanting atmosphere, and location between the Garonne River and the mighty Canal du Midi, plus it’s still a bit off the radar to most people.
The ochre rooftops and coral-pink brick facades gave this sunny town the nickname ‘La Ville Rose’ (the pink city). I found Toulouse quite romantic, perfect for a couple.
Toulouse is an easy stop-off in the heart of the south west of France. Has plenty to do and see from ancient palaces to great food markets. Toulouse has two Unesco heritage sites, the Canal du Midi and the Basilica of St. Sernin, the biggest Romanesque building in Europe.
Toulouse is a “big small city“, where everything you may want to visit is quite close, plus the public transports are amazing, making it really easy to get around.
As I mention before this Basilique is a Unesco heritage site, and it’s considered one of the largest remaining Romanesque buildings in Europe. I found the bell-tower especially impressive, standing 64 meters above the ground.
The city is quite clean and many streets in the center are limited to pedestrians. Bikes are also everywhere. The Old Town not only is a concentration of monuments and old buildings but is also the place where the normal everyday life takes place.
It’s the majestic square in the heart of Toulouse, bordered by grand buildings made from Toulouse’s hallmark rose-red bricks.
The building itself is accessible to the public, and the entry is free.. Going inside is definitely worth it.
Musée des Augustins
Used to be a convent, nowadays is a fine art museum which houses some of the works from the French school between the 15th and 18th centuries. The medieval cloister and garden are especially magical, surrounded by salons filled with evocative statues and sculptures.
Also know as Toulouse Cathedral, it’s a Roman Catholic church built between the 13th and 17th centuries. The cathedral is a combination of northern and southern Gothic styles.
Canal du Midi
A picturesque canal whose waters flow throughout the southwest of France until exiting into the Mediterranean Sea, perfect for a stroll along the River Garonne during a sunny day.
The Pont-Neuf is the oldest and also the main bridge in town, a great place to walk along the Garonne river. The bridge was constructed in the 1500s.
Located in the north of the city near the Compans Caffarelli. On the day I visited the garden, there was virtually no one there, it’s a gorgeous place, that definitely deserves a visit.
Chapelle des Carmélites
It’s a stunning chapel that will absolutely take your breath away. Inside this chapel is covered in fresco painting, from the wall to the ceiling. The chapel is covered with religious depiction of the Heavens, definitely worth a peak.
Market of Saint Aubin
The Market happens every Sunday morning and is run by local farmers. It’s a great place to buy organics products, vegan street food, find local artists and books. Although Toulouse has several markets this one was my favorite
The Marché Victor Hugo, is quite big and well known for its gourmet stalls and restaurants but more is more suitable to non-vegans.
How to get there
Toulouse has its own airport, 20 minutes away from the city center. It also has great connections from the airport to the city.