- Category: Experts
- Author: Damon M. Banks
Visiting Marseille-Provence To Celebrate Capital of Culture
It’s a great time to visit Marseille and Provence, so plan your trip now. I will be the first to admit that Marseille is not near the top of my list when I think of “must-visit” destinations in France, but when it comes to cultural significance, Marseille certainly has a colorful history worthy of exploration. If nothing else, it’s a great city to visit while taking advantage of the many day trips to the picturesque villages of Provence. Personally, I feel that these villages complete with hospitable locals, delectable cuisine and many hidden treasures are the true treasures of this region. Marseille has been working feverishly for several years to complete many improvements and enhancements to this famous city on the sea in an extensive revitalization effort. With miles of coastlines and charming villages within a very short distance by train, a week being able to live like a local in a beautiful villa can provide a quintessential Provence experience.
Celebrating The Capital of Culture:
Marseille and the region of Provence are fortunate to be celebrating a year filled with over 400 cultural events as they commemorate being one of the Capitals of Culture. For 2013, this honor is shared with Košice, the economic and cultural center of Slovakia. For visitors and locals alike, the very impressive lineup by Marseille and Provence throughout the entire year will allow for an inventive journey of exploration; celebrating the past, present and future. 97 towns and communities have come together to collaboratively prove to the world that Marseille and Provence have earned their place among the impressive list of cities that have been able to call themselves the European Capital of Culture since it was created in 1985 to strengthen togetherness within the European Union.
In Marseille and Provence, the year has been divided into 3 programs, but maintains the centralized theme of “The Mediterranean: The Narrative Of It’s Two Shores.” Part 1 of the program has just come to a close, and was a very successful beginning to this year’s celebration, as the theme was aptly titled, “Marseille-Provence Welcomes The World.” Part 2 has just kicked-off, and will continue until September with the theme of “Marseille-Provence Under The Stars.” Many events occur under the starry skies with locals and tourists coming together to celebrate throughout the entire region. Part 3 is titled, “Marseille-Provence of a Thousand Faces,” and will wrap up the year from September to December. This part of the program celebrates togetherness and recognizes the many faces that have influenced this region. Regardless of when you visit during 2013, you’re sure to have endless opportunities presented, allowing you to fully embrace and appreciate this region.
Great Day Trips From Marseille:
Aubagne: Located just 10 miles from Marseille and the Mas de Provence villa, you feel you’re a world away from the metropolis when arriving to this picturesque village. This area is very proud to be the birthplace of Marcel Pagnol, the writer and producer who glorified and popularized Provence. The farmers markets here would be difficult to replicate with this region’s amazing produce. With so many local offerings, the items most sought-after remain the honey, olive oil, goat cheese and Pastis Janot.
Gardanne: Located just 16 miles from Marseille, Gardanne is not a destination if you’re looking to be with a lot of tourists. However, if you’re looking to mingle with the locals in an industrial city that has still maintained a great deal of true-life charm, this is a great afternoon getaway. Beautiful fountains, small city squares and tiny streets of mystery make Gardanne a uniquely local experience.
Aix-En Provence: Located just 20 miles from Marseille, this is one region that is worthy of several days to savor the lovely Provincial lifestyle. Known for their magnificent fountains and love of art; the chateaus, gardens and village life will leave you wanting to simply pause to savor the moment. Here they pride themselves on family-style comfort foods made with the freshest of ingredients grown in this region, which are then paired with the local wines of this area called The Vineyards of Aix en Provence (including grenache, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, and notably vermentino). Not a bad combination!