Marseilles

Marseilles Travel Guide

The beachfront bar near the Plage du Prado is where young surfers and their admirers flirt over fruity cocktails.

Established by a pair of local fashion-industry refugees, this cult bath and body-care store elevates the basic Provençal soap to a supremely chic level. The soap bars, foams, and shower gels are stylishly packaged in simple beige cubes or crystal-clear bottles.

Never mind the fancy name, the "château" is actually a former prison—the Mediterranean equivalent of Alcatraz. Built in the 16th century, the island jail was the setting for Dumas's classic The Count of Monte Cristo. Today, the guards have been replaced with guides.

A luxe men's bathing-suit brand founded in nearby St. Tropez, Vilebrequin has been creating well-cut trunks for more than three decades. Its trademark floral and pastel designs are crafted from fast-drying canvas and come in both men's and boy's sizes.

The family-run shop produces handmade chocolates spiked with such unlikely ingredients as fennel, onion, and lavender, as well as pralines and traditional barres marseillaises (fruit-studded dark chocolate).

A high-octane dance club in a renovated bunker, Le Trolleybus's roster of musical genres ranges from techno to salsa over three dance floors.

Local designer Marianne Cat has created a gallery and boutique in an 18th-century town house. She stocks her own silky, ephemeral dresses and blouses, along with a well-edited collection of photography and art.

Take the quaint Petit Train de la Bonne Mère from the Old Port. You'll chug more than 500 feet above the harbor to the towering neo-Byzantine cathedral, where a 30-foot Madonna overlooks the city. Needless to say, the views are fantastic.

Never mind the fancy name, the "château" is actually a former prison—the Mediterranean equivalent of Alcatraz. Built in the 16th century, the island jail was the setting for Dumas's classic The Count of Monte Cristo. Today, the guards have been replaced with guides.

Join the fabulous people for a glass of bubbly or a plate of crepes on Manureva's terrace. Inside, a pale-wood bar gives the feel of the interior of one of those luxury yachts crowding the harbor.

Navettes are crisp, orange-flavored pastries shaped like boats (commemorating a party of seafaring saints). Le Four des Navettes—the oldest bakery in town—has been making the classic cookies of Marseilles since 1781 and will happily ship a box home for you.

You'll get a glimpse of Marseilles's ancient Greco-Roman past at this garden, where, during the 1967 construction of the Centre Bourse (the Stock Exchange), archeologists unearthed the remains of the city's original port, dating back to the ancient Romans.