To the north west of Marseille and now absorbed by the city, is the old fishing village of l’Estaque. Both a humble fishing port and working class town, it lies between the sea and the chain de L’Esataque, some craggy limestone hills behind the coast. Well known for its popularity with artists including Cezanne and Renoir, who delighted in painting here, enjoying the quality of light, scenic views and the character of its buildings. Easily accessible from Marseille by train across the elegant stone Viaduct Estaque, you can enjoy the beaches, restaurants and cafes, visit the 17th century fortress Chateau Fallet, and visit the Notre Dame de Gallina, an 11th century chapel.
Marseille Old Town (Pannier)
Walk north of the old port and you will find yourself in a warren of narrow paved streets amongst tall thin houses in Marseille’s old town. Hidden here are the Place de Lench, a historic square lined with shops and bars and the Place des Moulins, site of the cities old flour mills and with brightly painted pastel houses. Le Pannier is where Marseilles originally began and is the location of the Greek city of Massalia built here in 600BC and has seen 26 centuries of occupation since.
Marseille’s beaches can be split into 2. The remote beaches to the north on the Blue Coast and the urban beaches to the south. The Blue Coast area runs for some 20km westwards from Marseille and is a hilly terrain with small beaches in rocky coves. This area is quiet and rugged though it is necessary to hike or drive their to enjoy it. The beaches to the south of Marseille are urban and while attractive can suffer from pollution, depending on the wind direction. There are many small beaches in rocky inlets as well as a 3km stretch of landscaped beaches and parks in a shallow bay. There are excellent facilities on the large beaches with showers, swimming pools, bars and restaurants and sporting facilities for sailing, canoeing, windsurfing and beach sports.