France offers the very best and cheapest camping facilities in all of Europe. We know, we have been camping in Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, to name a few. Use two guides: the Michelin Camping Guide and Le guide officiel camping caravaning. The Michelin gives good advice for facilities, shade, quiet, etc., and the Guide Officiel gives all 8,565 campsites in France. Between the two you can find what you want whereever you find yourself in rural or urban France. Now even the initial outlay for tent, cooker, sleeping bags, etc. is a lot cheaper than it used to be. If you want very good gear get it second hand on eBay. Happy Camping in France!
Le guide officiel camping caravaning: www.campingfrance.com/UK/Guidebooks/Guidebooks/The-guide-of-all-the-camp-sites-in-France
Football supporters' bar, but not as scary as that sounds! Friendly staff, good food, moderately priced drinks considering the position. We were made to feel like regulars!
On the Quai des Belges, right on the Vieux Port.
Google map: bit.ly/Ylztdg
An authentic fish stew served with aioli - succulent pieces of fish served in a tasty broth with little pieces of crusty bread topped with a rich garlic mayonnaise - try eating at the local fisherman's cafe rather than the tourist restaurants on the quay. It's cheaper, the taste is much more authentic and the locals are friendly and talkative - the portions are huge too!
Marseille fish quay
Google map: bit.ly/JvhIQ8
If you want to bask in the warm Mediterranean sea, but hate the crowds that fill much of France’s coastline, head to the vibrant, chilled out port of Marseille.
Get up early to soak up the sights and smells of the Vieux Port fish market. When the shouts of the fishermen trying to get rid of their sea urchins grows too much, take a navette (boat shuttle, €2.50 for a 40 minute journey) to Pointe Rouge, a sandy beach with great views across the harbour. Then take a stroll along the coastal path towards Callelongue, stopping off at whichever calanques (rocky coves) take your fancy, for a swim in the turquoise waters.
When you’re ready to head back to the bustle of the city, catch a number 20 bus to the end of the route and then switch to number 19. End the day with a bowl of bouillabaisse (Provençal fish stew) and a glass- or two- of pastis (anise-flavoured liqueur).
Le Rhul is a three-star hotel located on a bend off corniche Kennedy (the beautiful road that goes along Marseille's Mediterranean coast line). It's not the most modern or best hotel you will go to, but it probably has one of the best views of any three star hotel in the world. The rooms also have a lot of character (not that you will be looking anywhere but out of your window). This was a real treat for a budget traveler like me, and I would never have expected getting a view like this on the coast of France without selling one of my limbs. Some of the best photos I took while traveling through the south of France were from my tiny balcony at this hotel.
Bar on the first floor of the Belle Vue with a great view from the terrace if you can get a table there and tapas served with drinks.
Le Bistrot a Vin
Simple, good Provencal food paired with fantastic wine selections at a very reasonable price.
La Côte de Boeuf
Steakhouse with an amazing wine cellar.
For the best bouillabaisse in Marseille head to
34 quai du Port 13002 Marseille
+33 4 91 90 36 64
Bistrot a Vin
7 Rue Sainte, 13001 Marseilles, France
+33(0)4 91 54 02 20
La Cote de Boeuf
35 Cours Honoré d'Estienne d'Orves
13001 Marseilles, France
+33(0)4 91 33 00 25
6 Rue Catalans
13007 Marseilles, France
+33(0)4 91 52 64 22
As far as I know, British weather doesn't really allow us to have outdoor waterparks like Aqualand but it's worth heading to the continent just for them. In particular, Aqualand St Cyr is a great way to spend a hot summer's day if you want to be away from the chaos of Med beaches. There are rapids, pools of all sorts for over excited kids but also a great creperie and 'espace détente' where parents can rest.
Mas des capellans, 66750 St Cyprien
Google map: bit.ly/dLPDm9
ZAC des Pradeaux
83270 ST CYR SUR MER
tél : 0044 4.94.32.08.32
fax: 0044 22.214.171.124.02
From Marseille the seacliffs around the coast - Les Calanques - are easily reached by metro and bus and some minutes of walking. Here you can go for long walks and you will find some of the best sports climbing in all of Europe. The routes are generally very well protected. During midsummer walking and climbing is forbidden, but during spring and in the autumn the Calanques are open. The scenery is beautiful with white cliffs and a clear blue sea. The young Joseph Conrad left the old port of Marseille on his first ship.
Google map: bit.ly/edF0al
If you want to be in on the local secrets of Marseille then you need to check out 'My Little Marseille', it is up to the minute, latest tips on food, fashion, chilling out, partying, shopping, pampering and lots more.
I get an update every week with tips on everything from Tom the resident Rasta tailor who will turn your chosen fabric into a stylish dress (and drives a rastafarian inspired London cab) to where to go for a fish pedicure (thats little fish nibbling your feet, a massage and exfoliation treatment all in one).
Its in french sorry, but better than any printed guide book by a mile! Even if you don't read french, its only a google translate away to discover these excellent recommended secrets of Marseille.
A spacious holiday studio with a view of both the Vieux Port and Notre Dame de la Garde. The place is one of a few apartments run by Romain who was full of advice on where to go.
In the evening the place is buzzing with all the seafood restaurants and bars.
For daytime activities take the free ferry boat a few steps away at Place Aux Huiles across to the Hotel du Ville (no quicker than walking but a lot more fun) and explore the Panier district or take the 83 bus to the Prado Beach.
Place Aux Huiles
Romain - Tel: +33 6 77 94 34 50
A bus from the centre of Marseille will take you to the head of the trails (through some unsalubrious bainlieues) that lead over craggy limestone peaks to one of the Mediterranean's most beautiful coastal features, the calanques. A little under an hour's walk will lead you to beautiful Sormiou and Morgiou, with pint sized beaches and tiny hamlets sandwiched between dramatic cliffs strewn with shrubs, cedars and maritime pines. The water is crystal clear and sheltered so that it is calmer and warmer than the open sea. On summer weekends, the calanques can get busy with daytrippers, but the rest of the time they are a picturesque treat to enjoy with only a few other people. There are other calanques more easily accessed by boat or from the neighbouring town of Cassis.
Calanque de Sormiou and Calanque de Morgiou, south of Marseille. You can drive the whole way along winding, precipitous, unpaved roads, but as the weather is usually good, it's best to walk - though remember to bring lots of water in summer time! Buses no22 & 23 run to Morgiou and Sormiou respectively from the Rond Point du Prado metro stop.
Guesthouse run by a sweet and friendly lady called Catherine. Rooms are colourful, clean and spacious.
A delightful breakfast is provided. Catherine will go out of her way to make her home your home.
Pitchounette et Olives
11, bld Tellen - 13007 Marseille
00 33 (0) 04 91 54 38 35
An excellent seafood restaurant located just by the the Vieux port. We had salt baked turbot and king prawns. While portions weren't huge, the quality couldn't be faulted. Ideal for a well earned treat.
Le Fetiche Restaurant
38, rue Saint Saens
Angle Rue de la Paix
04 91 54 00 98
The most delicious bouillabaisse is served in this smart and charming restaurant overlooking a quaint harbour in the Vallon des Auffes. Take the Rue de Vallon west to the coast to enjoy. Finish with a stroll along the seaside looking out to the Chateau d'If.
140, Vallon des Auffes - 13007 MARSEILLE
Tél. 04 91 52 14 38 - Fax 04 91 52 14 16
This is an old fortress/prison set on the island of If a few kilometres from the main port of Marseille.
While the fortress has been on the island since the 16th century, its main claim to fame is as the place of imprisonment of the fictional inmate Edmond Dantès, the hero of Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Montecristo.
Only 20 minutes by boat from Quai des Belges in the old port of Marseille.
Hotel in Marseille right on the Old Port. Apparently a two-star hotel but there was nothing to indicate to us that it was in any way different to a three-star hotel. Seemingly for a few euro more you can get a room facing the port. Friendly and great location.
Third-generation chocolate makers in Marseille. This family-run business produces chocolate made from unlikely ingredients such as onion and lavender, as well as pralines (well it is France!) and traditional barres Marseillaises (dark chocolate covered in fruit such as oranges).
A very small shop but apparently is world famous amongst chocolatiers. Well worth a visit. Black and white pictures of previous generations line the walls.
49 rue du Petit – Puits close to Rue du Panier.
You hear so much about Marseille being dangerous, probably a legacy of the French Connection movies.
We went there in May 2008 and it is not at all the dirty, dangerous city of the movies. We would say no more or less dangerous than many European cities.
Probably advisable to avoid the Belsunce area (south west of train station) at night.
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