Le Panier Marseille is the oldest district in the city, and it is located just north of the Vieux Port. When you come to realize that Marseille is the oldest city in France and you witness the range of historic monuments and attractions in this neighborhood, you will understand exactly why this area is referred to simply as Old Marseille. There are a variety of things to do in Le Panier Marseille that include everything from seeing the top attractions and taking walking tours of the district, to enjoying fine dining and some truly exceptional cafes. Le Panier is an extremely popular destination for tourists and is appreciated by the residents of the city who understand its longstanding cultural and historic significance. This is, after all, the place where the ancient Greeks first established a settlement. In the sixth century BC, it was called Massalia. Over the course of 2,500 years, the small settlement chosen for its excellent port location has expanded into the city of Marseille, now the second largest city and third largest metropolitan area in France.
Most people begin their exploration of Le Panier Marseille with a walking tour, whether guided or not. It is preferable to take along a guide if you are interested in learning details of the founding of the city and the significance of many of the sights that you will see along the way. Perhaps one of the most alluring of these attractions is La Vieille Charite, a museum and center of culture that had at one time functioned as an almshouse. It is a Baroque building constructed between 1671 and 1749. The idea was to build a place for the poor in Old Marseille, but by the seventeenth century, the French authorities had taken a firmer stance on how to deal with the poor in their communities and it was not long until it stopped functioning as a place where they could take refuge. The interior and exterior are both absolutely stunning. Be sure to check out the Museum of Mediterranean Archaeology (located on the first floor) and the Museum of Art of Africa, Oceania, and Amerindia (located on the second floor). You can enjoy the quaint cafes and restaurants as well, but one of the top things to do in Le Panier Marseille is to visit the museums and other cultural attractions.
When you pay a visit to Old Marseille, you will probably access the area using the Montee des Accoules, which is a flight of steep steps that takes people into the center of the old district. At the top you will find the location of the former Greek agora, now a public gathering place and a location where you will be able to find a range of cafes and restaurants. The Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) is another of the most famous attractions in Le Panier Marseille. It was one of only three buildings that were spared by a ferocious German attack during WWII. Pierre Puget, who also designed La Vieille Charite, designed the Genoese-style building as well. Other top attractions include Maison Diamantee on the Rue de la Prison and the Hotel Cabre, located at Rue Bonneterie and Grande-Rue.
If you are still looking for things to do in Le Panier Marseille after you have done your sightseeing, give yourself some time to relax and just take in the relaxing environment and the excellent views of the city and sea.
Image: gluca[m]m (flickr)