The most renowned and populated city in France after Paris, MARSEILLE has – like the capital – prospered and been ransacked over the centuries. It has lost its privileges to sundry French kings and foreign armies, recovered its fortunes, suffered plagues, religious bigotry, republican and royalist Terror and had its own Commune and Bastille-storming. It was the presence of so many Marseillaise Revolutionaries marching from the Rhine to Paris in 1792 which gave the Hymn of the Army of the Rhine its name of La Marseillaise, later to become the national anthem.
Today, it's an undeniable fact that Marseille is a deprived city, not particularly beautiful architecturally, and with acres of grim 1960s housing estates. Yet it's a wonderful place to visit – a real, down-to-earth yet cosmopolitan port city with a trading history going back over 2500 years. The people are gregarious, generous, endlessly talkative and unconcerned if their style seems provocatively vulgar to the snobs of the Côte d'Azur.