WHEN TO GO
The best times to visit are spring, early summer, and autumn. Avoid late July and August, when the heat can be torrid, and many restaurants (and even some hotels) close down. Winter months are generally mild, but the unexpected arrival of the mistral can make the weather icy.
HOW TO GET THERE
Marseille Provence airport is located 16 miles northwest of the city (www.mrsairport.com). British Airways and easyJet run direct flights from London (Gatwick), but the most direct route for U.S. travelers is to connect via Charles de Gaulle in Paris on Delta Airlines or Air France.
There is a clean, efficient metro system (subway) that stops everywhere you need to go in central Marseille. Maps and information are available from any station or online at www.rtm.fr.
Here, as elsewhere, ostentatious displays of wealth are unwise. Because Marseille is a port city with its share of seediness, be doubly careful about carrying valuables that can easily be snatched. Avoid leaving your car on the street downtown—auto theft is rampant. Fortunately, there are ample and secure underground car parks and an excellent subway system.
The efficient and helpful Office du Tourisme, at 4 La Canebière, provides a good selection of English-language leaflets that cover the major points of interest, including a walking tour of the Quartier du Panier (33-4-91-13-89-00; www.marseille-tourisme.com).View France Factsheet