One of the oldest cities in France after Paris and Lyon, Marseille sits on the southeastern coast of the country against the Mediterranean Sea. It serves as a commercial port for France, as well as the administrative capital of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region of the country. It is the most populated region in France after Paris, and is one of the oldest cities in Europe as a whole. Where Paris is a tourist's dream destination, with things to see and do at every street corner, unraveling the mysteries of Marseille is a little more complicated, and definitely takes a little digging beneath the surface. While there are several main attractions such as the Louvre, Marseille is a city far removed from the typical French clichés, and it is here that you will experience one of the most authentic French trips of your life.
Perhaps the most cultural experience is the le Cours Julien and la plaine, which is basically the throbbing heart of the city, complete with cafés, bookstores, and markets. If you are in Marseille for any length of time you will probably end up spending most of your time in this section of the city, kicking back in one of the many cafés and enjoying the mild Mediterranean weather with some authentic French cuisine. Beyond that, there is Longchamp Castle, Borely Park, the Stade Velodrome, or the football stadium. There are also beaches, but they aren't exactly the kind you want to go to for a beach holiday. Staying in Marseille is about experiencing the city itself, although the surrounding countryside does offer such opportunities as rock climbing the fjords between Marseille and La Ciotat, or simply hiking. Marseille is currently undergoing some significant cultural changes due to the fact that it is the European Capital of Culture for 2013, and preparations are in full swing to make the most of the date when it rolls around.
Aix-en-Provence is a city in the south of France, in the region Bouches-du-Rhone, 20 km north of Marseille. The city has about 145.000 inhabitants and over 20% of them are students. Aix-en-pr…