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Marseille on an MSC Mediterranean cruise?
When cruising southern France, you have to know that Marseille is the most renowned and populated metropolitan area in the country after Paris and Lyon. When you alight from your MSC cruise ship, the cafés around the Vieux Port, where glistening fish are sold straight off the boats on quai des Belges, are wonderful spots to observe the city’s street life.
Particularly good in the afternoon is the north (Le Panier) side, where the terraces are sunnier and the views better. The best view of the Vieux Port is from the Palais du Pharo, on the headland beyond Fort St-Nicolas, or, for a wider angle, from Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, the city’s Second Empire landmark atop the La Garde hill. To the north of the Vieux Port is the oldest part of Marseille, Le Panier, where, up until the last war, tiny streets, steep steps Mediterranean introduction and houses of every era formed a vieille ville typical of the Côte.
You can enjoy many MSC cruise excursions from the Vieux Port. Were it not for the great metropolis of Marseille, just 30 km south, Aix-en-Provence would be the dominant city of central Provence. Aix is more immediately attractive, a stately and in parts pretty place that’s traditionally seen as conservative.
Capital of the Catholic Church during the early Middle Ages and for centuries a major artistic centre, Avignon remains another unmissable excursion. Low medieval walls still encircle Avignon’s old centre, as it nestles up against a ninety-degree bend in the Rhône river. Their gates and towers restored, the ramparts dramatically mark the historic core off from the formless sprawl of the modern city beyond.